With this morning being the first walk with freezing temperatures this season, it felt especially cold! I observed a few frozen puddles as I strolled down the trail, which at first seemed to be the only thing out there until the sun crested the trees. Once the sun was high enough, things got warmer and action started to heat up. There was very few vocalizations from birds so I observed pretty much every bird by sight this morning. Highlights included a large group of flyover House Finches, which is a high count for the trail. My flyover count was a conservative estimate as my observation of the flock was brief so there very well could have been more than 20. Between that conservative estimate plus two separate individuals I observed in the parking lot shortly after, this is the greatest tally of House Finches I’ve observed on a walk on the trail.
I encountered the Northern Mockingbird at its usual perch in the shrubs just behind the Basswood tree. As I continued on toward the gas line cut, I heard one squeak from a White-throated Sparrow nearby. I paused on the gravel path and looked to my left, and I was surprised to find six White-throated Sparrows foraging through the leaves. I would’ve passed right by them if I didn’t stop! Amazing to think what else is hiding out there that has yet to be discovered…
A final note – I am seeing an influx of Canada Geese returning to our area. This amazing migratory species often congregates on lawn grass, bodies of water, and farm fields in very large numbers in winter. There are Canada Geese that stay here all year round and do not migrate, but the migratory ones are only seen here in winter in these amazing, large flocks. With these large flocks congregating, there is often a chance of finding other species of geese getting mixed within by accident. Other birds to look out for include Snow Goose and Cackling Goose. If you’re lucky, you can find a real rarity like Greater White-fronted Goose, Barnacle Goose, or one that would be a lifer for me: Pink-footed Goose! I have been seeing Canada Geese congregating each morning in the fields at the Francis Harvey Green School. Definitely worth keeping an eye out for something in a flock that’s not like the others!
Here’s the eBird list for this morning’s walk:
Bethel Springs E.S.--Nature Trail
Dec 9, 2016
All birds reported? Yes
Comments: Walked to gas line cut and back. First morning walk of the season with freezing temperatures. Paired with high winds, it was an unforgivable morning.
Submitted from eBird for iOS, version 1.4.1 Build 113
38 Canada Goose
4 Ring-billed Gull
2 Mourning Dove
1 American Crow
1 Northern Mockingbird
1 European Starling
6 White-throated Sparrow
2 Song Sparrow
2 Northern Cardinal
22 House Finch -- A flyover flock of approximately 20 birds +2 individuals in the parking lot. Unofficial high count for the trail - I wish I had a more accurate count, but the estimate was conservative!
2 American Goldfinch