Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Birding on Broadmeade Walk

Twelve people joined me this morning at 7:30 at the Braes Valley end of Lake Creek Trail for the monthly group walk. Before we got started the wind was calm and the sun briefly broke through the clouds, promising a warming trend. But the cloud cover sustained through the morning and the north wind picked up, keeping us a bit cold until the walk ended at about about 10:00 AM. We ended up finding 36 species of birds and here are some highlights.

The presence of hawks was directly and indirectly. We heard Blue Jays imitating both Red-shouldered Hawks and Cooper's Hawks before we saw either species. And distant mobbing calls from crows and then Blue Jays preceded our first sighting of a Red-shouldered Hawk that flew over the trail chased by a couple jays. Later we saw another Red-shouldered Hawk by the footbridge and a third in the Town and Country playing fields carrying a big rat it had just caught. Here's the hawk by the footbridge, accompanied by a disapproving Northern Mockingbird:

Red-shouldered Hawk and Northern Mockingbird

From the footbridge we heard many songbirds vocalizing and we saw House Finches, a closeup Red-bellied Woodpecker, and a couple Lincoln's Sparrows. A Cooper's Hawk flew by and all the other birds went silent until a few minutes later, closely attuned to the arrival of this songbird predator!

Birds were a little easier to see when we east of the bridge along the creek bed between the playing fields. There was a large flock of House Finches feeding on the giant ragweed and flying back and forth overhead. We also glimpsed Lincoln's Sparrows, Lesser Goldfinches, and House Wrens. After finally turning around at the last low water crossing, we got a few better looks at birds on our way back. We saw a few Eastern Bluebirds, and this flock of about 10 Chipping Sparrows:

Chipping Sparrows

With them was a single Vesper Sparrow. Look at that eye-ring!

Vesper Sparrow

Our last treat was back on the section of trail between the footbridge and the parking lot where someone noticed some scattered feathers. They were quite beautiful! I gathered up a few for this photo:

Killdeer Feathers - 1 - 2

The group puzzled over what bird they might have been from. From the way they were scattered around I'm pretty sure an arial predator like a Cooper's Hawk had gotten this bird. (Terrestrial predators leave a more concentrated feather pile.) But what bird had the predator gotten? These are feathers from a Killdeer. It's easy to overlook this common and sometimes annoying shorebird, but its colors are really quite stunning. The two reddish brown feathers on the right are tail feathers, and the rest are flight feathers from the wings.

Here's our complete bird list on eBird.

And here are a few more photos on Flickr including a couple taken by Twyla Grace.

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