Seasonal Changes in Bird Watching
As the seasons change, we’ve watched foliage turn color and fall. Now we’ve added the element of observing migrating birds go through our neighborhood, winter birds arrive and begin their stay, and some folks caught sight of birds not normally found here, but blown inland and/or off course from Hurricane Sandy.
This past week-end’s weather was gorgeous for being outdoors and quietly watching birds. Temps were in the 60s with clear skies and bright sun. Plus, I now have binoculars once again!
I eagerly headed to the Otter Point Creek marshes along Rt. 40 on Saturday morning, and oh my! The pond was teeming with birdlife. I was stunned by how much I had missed before and now can see with my new, upgraded binocs. I was so excited, and stayed much longer than usual.
About 120 Canada geese swam in the waters towards the back of the pond. I watched as small groups of 3-6 would flutter their wings and take off, heading south?. Here is my best attempt at capturing a picture, the departing birds are on the left.
Many ducks plied the water – I noted about 20 ruddy ducks and 4 wood ducks. In marsh area #2, on the other side off the highway on-ramp, 6 gorgeous male mallards and a few females were nestled on the far side, along the grasses.
While getting into my car to leave, my eye caught a bird in this sycamore tree in the median. The bird was a downy woodpecker! Quite a surprise for me. Pic is of tree; the woodpecker flew away …
I stayed awhile longer, searching other trees along the marsh edge and found one chock full of cedar waxwings!! About 20 were perched in the same tree. This was a first for me. I found more birds that greatly resembled waxwings but were bigger and plumper. I’m not sure of their ID yet.
I made it back to the marsh just before sunset. The morning’s group of birds were replaced with about a dozen families of ducks – black & slate gray in color, with white tips of their tails, adults and juveniles. Their description matches a Brant goose, but these didn’t seem very goose-sized, so maybe they are American black ducks.
Another highlight of this evening’s visit was watching a colorful blue bird swoop down to the water, nab something worm-like, and enjoy the feast. He then flew over to a snag, sitting while I caught his photo: a belted kingfisher. This one I could readily ID:
On Sunday morning, Marshy Point Nature Center offered a bird walk with experts so I happily joined, content to wander along the coastline and woods, soaking in all the good advice and tips along with the warm sunshine. We saw: many robins (they don’t leave for the winter; rather they gather in flocks and nestle in the woods); and our guide mentioned that you may find a hermit thrush amongst a flock of robins and we did! (another first); purple and house finches; white-breasted nuthatch, bluebirds, lots of dark-eyed juncos, a golden-crowned kinglet here for the winter (a 1st for me! and wow – they never stay still), white-throated sparrows, and a downy woodpecker.
Marshy Point Park woodlands:
The park is pristine and so serene. A Marshy Point cove:
And on the water: pied-billed grebes ducking down into the water and popping back up, and ring-billed and herring gulls. (Shown on the top picture.)
Have you seen any migrating birds in your neighborhood? Have any “winter” birds arrived?