Sunday, April 5, 2015

Birding on Broadmeade Walk

Despite it being Easter Sunday and despite imminent rain, nine folks joined me this morning for the monthly group bird walk. We started at the Braes Valley parking lot and spent two hours finding about 40 species of birds. The overcast cool damp weather seemed to subdue the birds and make them harder than usual to observe. So it was mostly a quiet morning, but are some highlights.



A few of us who arrived early heard a Yellow Warbler singing. We never got good looks at this north-bound migrant but I was confident of the identification based on hearing its song and comparing it to a recording on my iPhone. After we started down the trail, it was hard to get a good look at a bird until we ran into Jeff Patterson who pointed out a singing Brown Thrasher on the other side of the creek. Brown Thrashers are only here in the winter, and they usually stay hidden in dense low brush. Getting to watch one sing at the top of a tree was a real treat.

On the other side of the footbridge we watched a Yellow-crowned Night-Heron fly in from downstream and land on a wire over the creek. It was sporting fresh breeding plumage and briefly raised its crest and fluffed out the long breeding plumes on its back. After a few minutes it flew down to the creek bed and landed near another Yellow-crowned Night-Heron we had not noticed yet. It briefly displayed again for this bird, presumably a female, as she ate a crawfish. The breeding display of this species is as colorful and dramatic as many exotic birds of the tropics, and it's amazing to me that it happens right here in our neighborhood where this species breeds in the summer.

A little further downstream we found three Greater Yellowlegs which tolerated our presence until we got quite close, when they made a few calls and flew downstream. These are winter residents who will soon be leaving for further north. One of the three was already sporting its breeding plumage.

On our way back Rich Kostecke found a Nashville Warbler, another northbound migrant. And we heard and briefly saw a Great Crested Flycatcher, a newly returning summer resident.

Our complete bird list is here.

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