Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Reporting Out Great Backyard Bird Count

Last week concluded this year's Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) event. I was happy to once again be able to schedule work around participating in this event, so I got to bird four days in a row! Life doesn't get much better than that.

I have finished filing all of the GBBC checklists into eBird, so I can finally report to all of you how it went. Overall, it was pretty good weekend.

On Friday, February 17, a group of us birded the chat trail and barrow pit in Lake Wichita Park. One of our group is fairly new to birding. I enjoy having new birders in a group--it really helps to go with others when you're first learning. Sue got a lifer marsh wren. One of the highlights was a hairy woodpecker. Although you don't see one every day, I don't think most of the regular birders in the area think of them as rare, but eBird does. Several of the group independently identified the bird, but no one thought to take a picture of it, so we'll see whether they accept the sighting. We had a good morning for woodpeckers overall, with the hairy, a couple of downy woodpeckers, a northern flicker, a ladder-backed woodpecker, a northern flicker, and a red-bellied woodpecker. We didn't do as well on the duck side of the house, but a quick sighting of a great-horned owl in flight made up for the lack of ducks.
Foggy morning at Lake Arrowhead SP
Disputed sandpiper

On Saturday, a few of us tackled Lake Arrowhead State Park. Thick soupy fog made visibility poor and prevented being able to scan the lake and opposite shore for birds. Since the picture to the left was taken with my cell phone, if you haven't been to Lake Arrowhead SP, you probably don't recognize how foggy it was. From this spot, we should be able to see over the lake, but there is just a wall of white. We saw some good birds regardless. The long-eared owls were still on site. There were a lot of people who traveled from elsewhere in the state to get a good look at the owls. One is remarkably mellow about all of the coming and going. Sue King, who had the lifer marsh wren on Friday, picked up another lifer with a golden-crowned kinglet here. We spent a great deal of time studying a flock of sandpipers. To all of us the legs appeared dark and we made an identification of semipalmated sandpiper. The editor for eBird thinks the legs are yellow in the photo. We are still in discussion at this point. The list at the end of this post is accepting the sandpiper as we identified it because the legs were definitely not yellow. But the editor has only the photo and range maps to go by, and semipalmated are not supposed to be here right now. But, as the saying goes, the birds can't read the field guides. However, it is possible the sandpiper is something else, so we will see. I sent out a call to those who were there to forward any clear pictures they might have.

On Sunday, several of us met out back of Wild Bird Rescue for a GBBC in a Big Sit format. It was pretty disappointing in terms of numbers, although James got a lifer with a yellow-rumped warbler. A Bonaparte's gull and a couple of Forster's terns were highlights for me.

River up in Lucy Park
Recent rains mean quishy areas in Lucy Park
On Monday, I birded the Circle trail from the entrance of Lucy Park on Sunset Drive to Williams Park. Lucy Park is not the bird mecca it was before, but there is still some good habitat on this stretch of trail for little dickie birds. As you can see in the photos, the recent rain made much of the park pretty quishy and the river was up and moving fast. I enjoyed seeing a white-throated sparrow--the first I have seen in Lucy Park since they tore out much of the understory. However, there is still a good stand of trees and vines near the footbridge, behind the sanitation building. Down the trail some, Lynn and I saw two brown creepers, which are always a highlight for me. A surprising find in town was the pair of eastern bluebirds behind the MPEC. I have seen bluebirds a couple of times over the past 20 years in Lake Wichita Park, but never here. A belted kingfisher flying up and down the river was also nice.

I am hoping by next year's, GBBC the Nature Bluff area will be ready for visitors.

So what did we see? I am hoping I don't inadvertently leave a bird out, but here goes:

Canada goose
Double-crested cormorant
Northern shoveler
Ruddy duck
American wigeon
American coot
Pied-billed grebe
Ring-billed gull
Bonaparte's gull
Forster's tern
White pelican
Great blue heron
Semipalmated sandpiper
Belted kingfisher
Great horned owl
Long-eared owl
Turkey vulture
Red-tailed hawk
Northern flicker
Ladder-backed woodpecker
Downy woodpecker
Hairy woodpecker
Red-bellied woodpecker
Inca dove
Mourning dove
Eurasian collared dove
White-winged dove
Rock pigeon
Northern cardinal
Northern mockingbird
Blue jay
Tufted titmouse (both regular and black-crested)
Eastern phoebe
Eastern bluebird
Ruby-crowned kinglet
Golden-crowned kinglet
Orange-crowned warbler
Yellow-rumped warbler
Common yellowthroat
American robin
Great-tailed grackle
Red-winged blackbird
European starling
House finch
American goldfinch
Cedar waxwing
Song sparrow
White-thrated sparrow
White-crowned sparrow
Field sparrow
Dark-eyed junco
Harris's sparrow
Brown creeper
Marsh wren
Carolina wren
Bewick's wren

If my count is correct, that's 58 species.

Good birding!

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