Monday, September 15, 2014

Saturday at Lake Arrowhead

On Saturday I attended the Bird Walk at Lake Arrowhead State Park. We had some out of town guests (David, Jonathon, Eilene) from New Mexico and Arizona as well as Terry, June and Paula.

It was unseasonably cool for mid September, which I was very happy about. I expected a lot of shorebirds, considering the numbers of shorebirds at Lake Wichita that past couple of weeks. Other than a few killdeer, the shorebirds were not to be found on Saturday. However, we did have some decent birds.

When you go on a bird walk, the expectation most people have is the "leader" is going to be an expert and be able to identify every bird seen. I am very conservative. If I am not absolutely positive about the ID, I don't make one. I do take note of field marks and try to research the bird later for a positive identification. We had three mystery birds when we stopped the walk--two of which I feel comfortable making an identification call.

The first was a small group of dickcissel that perched out in the open for a long time. When I initially
Dickcissel at LASP. Photo courtesy of Paula Savage
got a good look at them, I identified them as dickcissel and then for some reason, talked myself out of the ID. Paula Savage took the photo accompanying this post and as soon as I opened her email, the dickcissel identification was obvious. Thank goodness for a photographer among us.

The second mystery bird remains unidentified. It looked a lot like an oriole. One of the members of our group leaned toward a Bullock's oriole. I was reluctant to go there, as there was no white patch on the wing--it was more like a pair of wing bars. Really, it looked more like a tanager, but they tanager it looked most like hasn't been recorded anywhere close to our area. That doesn't mean it is impossible, just not likely. We did not get a photo of this bird, so it remains unidentified--those that were there can decide to record it as they wish.

The third mystery bird was an Empidonax flycatcher. These birds are notoriously difficult to identify without a song clue, which we didn't get. The most noticeable field mark was the olive tint to the plumage, to include the wing bars,which were obvious, but not sharply distinct. I also wrote down a bi-colored bill and some very light streaking on the throat and upper breast. Based upon those notes and comparing all of the species accounts, my best guess is an Acadian flycatcher.

One of the best birds of the morning was an adult male red-headed woodpecker. We don't get to see these as often as we used to, so it is always a treat. This was a lifer for Paula. We had another lifer for one of our out-of-town visitors--a scissor-tailed flycatcher. We took time to really look at and enjoy these birds. It's a fact that we see so many of common birds such as the scissor-tailed flycatcher that we don't take the time to really look at and appreciate just how beautiful they are.

The birds seen in the park Saturday were: killdeer, great egret, great blue heron, snowy egret, Canada goose, double-crested cormorant, turkey vulture, Eurasian collared dove, white-winged dove, Bewick's wren, red-headed woodpecker, northern mockingbird, northern cardinal, scissor-tailed flycatcher, Acadian flycatcher, dickcissel, orchard oriole, lark sparrow, and yellow warbler.

On the way home, I stopped at the Chat Trail in Lake Wichita Park in hopes of catching sight of the redstart seen and photographed a few days before by Paula Savage. No dice on that. In fact, it was very quiet on the Chat Trail for this time of year.  We were there for just about 20 minutes and saw the following birds: Eurasian collared dove, white-winged dove, chimney swift, hummingbird sp., scissor-tailed flycatcher, great-crested flycatcher, blue jay, northern cardinal, northern mockingbird, robin, eastern phoebe, house finch, savannah sparrow, and house sparrow.

Overall, a nice morning of birding.

Good birding!

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