Sunday, December 14, 2014

Birding on Broadmeade Walk

A week ago today (Sunday), six folks met me at the Braes Valley trail head for the monthly group bird walk. We spent about two hours on a cold and overcast morning finding 35 species of birds. Highlights started near the trail head when we heard a small group of Blue Jays suddenly start their alarm calls and then saw a Sharp-shinned Hawk fly past through the canopy. Later on a couple of us got a close look at a perched Cooper's Hawk (a very similar bird) in the Town and Country parking lot. And nearby we saw possibly the same Sharp-shinned Hawk soaring overhead. I got this poor photo of the soaring Sharp-shinned. From this angle two things that help distinguish it from a Cooper's are the small head and the more squared-off tail.

Sharp-shinned Hawk

Through the whole walk we distantly heard and then finally saw a female Belted Kingfisher perched on a wire over the creek.
Females are distinguished from males by the reddish brown patches on the breast. An unusual thing about this species is that the female is more colorful than the male. Here's my poor photo.

Belted Kingfisher

Other fun observations included the first Cedar Waxwings I've seen this winter (several groups that I estimated totaled at least 60 birds), a heard-only Eastern Bluebird, and at least 80 American Goldfinches mostly by the footbridge. We enjoyed brief distant looks at a small group of Greater Yellowlegs on he creek, and we got closer looks at this Great Egret.

Great Egret

Here's our complete bird list. Despite the dark and cold conditions, it was a fun morning!

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