Sunday, December 2, 2018

Birding on Broadmeade Walk

This morning ten people joined me on the monthly group walk. It was cold and clear when we met at 8:00 AM at the Braes Valley parking lot. We spent about 3 hours covering 1 mile on the trail and as a group observed 42 species of birds. And we enjoyed beautiful clear conditions and morning light. Here are some highlights.

Two Carolina Chickadees were some of the first birds we got good close looks at as one sang and both foraged in and around the dead mimosa tree near the trail head. There was a nearby cavity in one of the branches that they might have been checking out or even guarding for future use to nest in. Here's one:

Carolina Chickadee

A little further down the trail we started hearing the "vree" call of a Hermit Thrush, the first I've heard or seen this season. We played a recording of its song and this normally hidden bird that prefers low dense brush in the woods came out and flew by us several times looking for the source of the song. Unfortunately it never gave us a good photo opportunity.

There was a fair amount of activity including Yellow-rumped Warblers, White-throated Sparrows, Northern Cardinals, and a few other species but getting good looks at them was difficult. Then from across the creek there was a large flight of White-winged Doves and a minute later we spotted a Cooper's Hawk flying through the canopy. We then noticed that nearly all the birds were silent because of the close proximity of this avian predator.

The subdued activity lasted for a long time, and we were approaching the footbridge before things seemed to return to normal. We got some brief looks at a Brown Thrasher in the dense trees and shrubs between the trail and the creek. And then I looked up and was stunned by the fall color of a cedar elm tree in the angled morning light. The leaves looked almost electric!

Cedar Elm Fall Color

In the playing fields we finally got good looks at Cedar Waxwings which we had been hearing on and off all along. Some were in one of the young cottonwoods and many were eating berries in the hackberry trees.

The walk back was relatively quiet until we heard a Blue-headed Vireo calling. We quickly found this winter resident songbird which came right up to the trail and didn't seem very afraid of us as we watched it. This bird stayed with us for 15 or 20 minutes and the group must have taken 1000 photos of it as it foraged around us. Here's my photo that pales in comparison to some of the others taken by the group:

Blue-headed Vireo

Another fun observation on our way back was this male Yellow-rumped Warbler, also a winter resident, that ate poison ivy berries in a dense patch of this often disliked plant. (Poison ivy just causes problems for humans, and its berries are an important food source for birds in the winter.)

Yellow-rumped Warbler in Poison Ivy

Barry Noret took this photo of most of the group while we were on the footbridge. You might notice how a couple of us are in wheelchairs. Virginia Rose (in the blue jacket) birds Lake Creek Trail often. She blogs about local wheelchair-accessible trails and helping mobility-challenged folks enjoy the outdoors in her blog, Birdability. Say hi if you see her on the trail!

Birders on Lake Creek Trail

Here are a few more photos from this morning on Flickr.

And here is our complete bird list on eBird.

1 comment:

Jacque said...

Thanks Mikael for the pictures and enjoyable information about the interesting birds on our trail.