This morning nine folks joined me for the first group bird walk of 2016! We met at the Braes Valley parking lot at 8:00 AM and spent about two hours finding 37 species of birds. The weather was cold but nice, with light wind and a little bit of sun during the first hour. An early highlight was this cooperative Spotted Towhee that responded to my recording and came out for the whole group to get close looks:
We were lucky to see this perched adult accipiter early in the hike as well. I called it a Cooper's Hawk when we found it. But after looking at my photos I think it's a Sharp-shinned based mostly on the dark nape. The bill also seems small and the eye seems large for a Cooper's Hawk. I love the way its red eye lit up in the morning light:
On the creek bed I was pleased to find a small group of Least Sandpipers. As we watched, the group that was initially on the far side of the creek from us flew across and foraged right in front of us for a bit. This was my favorite moment of the morning!
If I had to guess, I think the group's favorite bird of the morning was this female Belted Kingfisher. It flew in from downstream and landed on a wire over the creek not to far from the trail. We watched it vocalize and cock its tail.
On our way back a Ruby-crowned Kinglet came into view right over the trail and climbed around on a section of poison ivy vine that was covered with berries. You can see its yellow feet in this interesting shot:
Here's our complete bird list. What a fun morning!