Saturday, February 8, 2014

Good Birding at Lake Arrowhead Today

The second Saturday of every month is a bird walk at Lake Arrowhead State Park. On the drive out, I saw 5 red-tailed hawks and 4 kestrel, so I was hoping for a good morning. After a week of snow and bitterly cold weather, I had a hunch there wouldn't be a crowd at the park for the walk today; nevertheless, the roads were clear, so I went. And I was right. However, me, myself, and I had a good morning. It wasn't too cold (30's) and there was no wind, making for decent weather.

While I was waiting to see if anyone else was going to show, I watched a mockingbird go over my truck looking for food. I realize my little cell phone camera isn't the best, but you can see him perched on the front of my truck--looks like a hood ornament. He actually let me get pretty close. He was going over the grill and searching in the space between the windshield and the hood, probably looking for bugs. I did notice the mockingbirds were beginning to chase one another and other birds, although none are singing yet.

The lake, besides being low, has a film of ice on it, with some of the last round of snow still setting on top of it. The lake is currently sitting at around 28% capacity.

In addition to the birds, there were a number of white-tailed deer. It is amazing that you can be looking over a field and see nothing, then something startles the deer and suddenly, there are a dozen of them running across the field with their white tails flashing.

I also saw some bobcat tracks and when I was climbing the rock stairs on the trail, it was obvious a cotton tail had come that way before me--he had climbed the stairs too.

You can't really see it, but in the picture to the right there are several hundred gulls sitting on the ice. Most all of them are ring-billed gulls but there were two first winter herring gulls mixed in--they really stood out from the others, being much larger and darker. Although a large group of birds, this was just what was left after well over 1000 took off just a little earlier.

In a little over an hour inside the park, I saw the following birds: Canada goose, cackling goose, white pelican, mallard, double-crested cormorant, killdeer, great blue heron, spotted sandpiper, ring-billed gull, herring gull, red-tailed hawk, red-bellied woodpecker, downy woodpecker, golden-fronted woodpecker, northern mockingbird, northern cardinal, eastern bluebird, red-winged blackbird, meadowlark sp., dark-eyed junco, white-crowned sparrow, Harris' sparrow, song sparrow, and house sparrow.

By the time I left the park, the weather was really warming up, so I decided to take West Arrowhead Road to see if I could add any birds to my list. I did add starlings (yippee), Eurasian collared dove, blue jay, American kestrel and American crow.

I then decided to head home by way of FM 9154 and FM 2650 (Sisk Rd). Most of the small tanks were frozen, but there was one tank with some ducks, so I was able to add not only some great-tailed grackles, but gadwall, ring-necked ducks and green-winged teal.

Now, aren't you sorry you stayed home? Don't forget you can participate in the Great Backyard Bird Count at Lake Arrowhead State Park next Saturday, February 15, at 9:00 AM. Why not join in?

Good birding!

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