It was a cold and crisp morning on a snow-covered nature trail! We are awaiting another snowfall this afternoon, and temperatures seemed to reinforce the storm's impending arrival.
When I arrived, I was greeted by construction equipment being stored at the trailhead. There is an improvement project on the pipeline in the gas line cut so there was a good amount of noise and even car traffic on the main path of the trail! If you are visiting the trail over the next two weeks, please stay out of the way of the construction and yield to any vehicles or personnel that are moving through the area.
The birds were still pretty active despite the added traffic! The walk featured mostly songbirds throughout the morning. High overhead, large flocks of Common Grackle were passing overhead, and I did my best to get accurate counts on all of them. On my drive in, I saw much larger flocks of Common Grackles over Chicheser as the sun was rising. This is a relatively common dawn and dusk occurrence in winter months, but when the flocks are large, seeing such a phenomenon never gets old!
The highlight of the morning came at the end of the walk when I heard a crashing sound followed by loud squeals from the bushes along the edge of the trailhead. My first thought was that a bird of prey caught a mammal or songbird for its breakfast. After a few seconds, the trail drew to a silence. As I started to walk back to school, I stopped dead in my tracks; a male Cooper's Hawk was perched only a few feet away! My suspicions were confirmed, and it sat for about three minutes for me to get some good photos of it! A great way to end a nice morning of winter birding!
Bethel Springs E.S.--Nature Trail Dec 15, 2017 7:16 AM Traveling 0.30 miles 45 Minutes All birds reported? Yes Comments: Cold morning with a light blanket of snow on the trail. Overcast with temperatures in the low 30s. Construction going on in the gas line cut, so I walked the main trail then the perimeter of the recently mowed meadow. Male Cooper’s Hawk offered stellar views! Submitted from eBird for iOS, version 1.6.1 Build 25 1 Cooper's Hawk 1 Red-shouldered Hawk 1 Mourning Dove 1 Red-bellied Woodpecker 1 Downy Woodpecker 2 Blue Jay 1 American Crow 4 Carolina Chickadee 2 Tufted Titmouse 2 Carolina Wren 3 American Robin 1 Northern Mockingbird 2 European Starling 8 White-throated Sparrow 3 Song Sparrow 5 Northern Cardinal 239 Common Grackle -- Flyover flocks of 150, 3, 16, and 70. 1 House Finch 2 American Goldfinch Number of Taxa: 19