What a great day with five new birds for the 2013 preserve’s year list, which is now up to 69. By far the best bird of the day, in my humble opinion, was an alternate plumaged male Rusty Blackbird that was foraging in the muddy areas of the old farm pond bed. I got to watch it at a fairly close range (40 feet or so) for about 20 minutes.
Runner up for bird of the day was another Icterid, a lone Eastern Meadowlark that was in the field at the base of “No Hang Glider” Hill. This is another species that I would expect would be very common at a place like the Stroud Preserve, however, this is only my 7th observation of this species. I did not note any during the breeding in the area last summer. My guess is that the grasses in the fields are cut to low for suitable nesting habitat.
The third runner up for bird of the day was a gobbling Wild Turkey. I heard it on the west side of the preserve along Lucky Hill Road. It sounded fairly close but my efforts to actually see it were not successful. It wouldn't be the first time that I've searched in vain for a turkey that I heard. This in only the third time I have heard a Wild Turkey at the preserve (I’ve never actually seen one there!).
I can hereby declare that spring has officially arrived with the presence of seven Tree Swallows! I looked at every bird on the wing today to see if it was a swallow, but it wasn’t until nearly the end of my walk that I saw these birds over the parking area as I was about to get in my car. The last new year-bird was a pair of Wood Ducks on the Brandywine. Other signs of spring were singing Field Sparrows and a Downy and Red-bellied Woodpecker with nest cavities big enough for the birds to fit into completely. They sky’s were full of groups of birds moving around. I’d say about 97 % of them were Red-winged Blackbirds, Common Grackles, and American Robins.
The winner of the oddest aerial observation today goes to 6 migrating Gas Hawks in formation. There was one very large one, which I’m guessing was a 747, and following behind it were 5 fighter planes of some sort or another. My I didn’t get a good look at the 747 to see if it was painted in the presidential color scheme. Whoever was on the plane must have been important.
Start time: 8:50
End time: 12:15
Wind: slight from the east
Skies: heavy foggy to overcast
Species Total: 45
- Great Blue Heron – 2
- Black Vulture – approximately 12
- Turkey Vulture – approximately 25
- Snow Goose – 23
- Canada Goose – approximately 400. I heard several very large flocks flying over head above the fog.
- Wood Duck – 2
- American Black Duck – 1
- Mallard – 6
- Sharp-shinned Hawk – 1
- Red-tailed Hawk – 2
- Wild Turkey – 1, heard only
- Killdeer – 4
- Mourning Dove – approximately 50
- Great Horned Owl – 1, same bird, same place
- Belted Kingfisher – 1, heard only
- Red-bellied Woodpecker – approximately 10
- Yellow-bellied Sapsucker – 1, heard only
- Downy Woodpecker – approximately 10
- Hairy Woodpecker – 3
- Northern Flicker – 1
- Blue Jay – approximately 10
- American Crow – approximately 100
- Fish Crow – 5
- Tree Swallow – 7
- Carolina Chickadee – approximately 20
- Tufted Titmouse – approximately 20
- Red-breasted Nuthatch – 1
- White-breasted Nuthatch – approximately 10
- Carolina Wren – 5
- Eastern Bluebird – approximately 25
- American Robin – approximately 250
- Northern Mockingbird – 1
- European Starling – approximately 100
- Eastern Towhee – 4
- Field Sparrow – 6, two singing
- Song Sparrow – approximately 50
- White-throated Sparrow – approximately 75
- Dark-eyed Junco – approximately 200
- Northern Cardinal – approximately 20
- Red-winged Blackbird – approximately 1000 (probably a low estimate)
- Eastern Meadowlark – 1
- Rusty Blackbird – 1, Bird of the Day!
- Common Grackle – approximately 1000 (probably a low estimate)
- House Finch – 5
- American Goldfinch – 2