Monday, April 10, 2017

Saturday Bird Walk at Lake Arrowhead State Park

Lincoln's Sparrow
Photo courtesy: Andy Reago and Chrissy McClarren
Wikimedia Commons
Saturday was an absolutely gorgeous day to be out watching the birds. The only downside was the wind, which became increasingly blustery as the bird walk at Lake Arrowhead State Park progressed. By 9:00 AM, there were whitecaps on the lake. Windy days aren't the best for finding birds. Consequently, it wasn't the greatest birding morning ever, but it was still better than cleaning house.

On the way out to the park, it was obvious the scissor-tailed flycatchers are back. This was the first day I had seen any, and they were everywhere. I easily saw over a dozen along FM 1954 between Hwy 281 and the park entrance. When I was filling out my park entry paperwork, a Carolina chickadee was singing in the tree at the park entrance. That was the only chickadee I saw or heard all morning.

Debra Halter was the only other person to show that morning, so we took off on our usual route. There were a few times Debra said, "We haven't seen XXX bird this morning." No less than three times, we saw the bird right after she mentioned it. The first was the white pelicans. There are usually good number of pelicans on the lake, but this is right around the time they leave. Sure enough, right after we saw a group of around 15 across the lake. As we were leaving, a group around that size flew over our heads and joined up with another group to make about 50 birds, circling over our heads before flying off. Migrating? We've had a small group of 5 or 6 stay at Lake Arrowhead for the summer the last couple of years. No indication they are breeding.

Debra and I spent several minutes watching a couple of sparrows in the underbrush. We finally decided one was most likely a Lincoln's sparrow. Debra had her camera and loaded the picture into iNaturalist, where that ID was confirmed. I have included a clearer picture from Wikimedia Commons.

Overall, here is a list of the birds we saw on the bird walk inside the park:

Northern shoveler
Blue-winged teal
American coot
Double-crested cormorant
White pelican
Least sandpiper
Great egret
Dowitcher (couldn't determine long-billed or short-billed)
Turkey vulture
Mourning dove
Eurasian collared dove
White-winged dove
Red-bellied woodpecker
Carolina chickadee
Northern mockingbird
Northern cardinal
Eastern phoebe
Cliff swallow
Common grackle
Great-tailed grackle
Red-winged blackbird
Brown-headed cowbird
European starling
House finch
White-crowned sparrow
Harris' sparrow
Lincoln's sparrow
Song sparrow
Bewick's wren

When I left the park, I decided to take a couple of detours on the way home. First, I drove down to a little marshy area on FM 1954 toward Hwy 287 just outside the park. Added a great blue heron and a northern harrier to my list. I turned around and took W. Arrowhead Rd down to the public boat ramp. I saw another northern harrier and added a loggerhead shrike and an eastern bluebird.

Overall, not a bad morning. Don't forget, the bird walk at Lake Arrowhead state park is the second Saturday every month, beginning at 8 AM. It is an easy walk, lasting about an hour and a half. If the weather is unpleasant, we may complete the route in an hour. If the birds are great, we may go two hours. Come out and join us! New birdwatchers are always welcome.

Good birding!

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