The Stroud Preserve, 22 March 2013

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When I get up in the morning around 5:40, I check my weather app on my iPhone to see what the day has in store for me. By the time I make breakfast for the family, see the children off to school and arrive at the Stroud Preserve at around 8:45, whatever little icon and temperature range was displayed earlier will have surely changed, and usually for the worse.

Let’s take to day for example. At 5:40 I got a sun icon with a temperature range of 28 to 47°.  Awesome! By the time I got to the Stroud Preserve at 8:50, the icon had turned to snow flakes and any hope of reaching 47° was nothing but a distant dream. Well, what can you do? I tell you one thing I’m going to do, if I ever met Punxsutawney Phil in a dark alley, I’m going to open up a can of woop ass on that hairy little rodent for saying we were going to have an early spring. That’s what I’m going to do.

That said, it actually wasn’t a bad day bird-wise. I tallied the highest species count of the year so far without seeing anything unusual. The meadowlarks and snipe of the day before were nowhere to be found. I saw a single Rusty Blackbird flying over an open field on the south side of the preserve. It briefly landed in a tree at the edge of woodlands and quickly moved on. There was a large flock of sparrows on the west side of the preserve, which probably totaled over 300 individuals by my best guess. They were madly foraging in, on, under and around a big thicket of multi-flora rose. The other highlight was a total of 4 Killdeer.

Common chickweed (Stellaria media (L.) Vill.), 22 March 2013. The Stroud Preserve, Chester County, PA, 

Field speedwell (Veronica media L.) 5 March 2013. The Stroud Preserve, Chester County PA. 

For the weed enthusiast out there I found a few others to add to the early bloomers list (I actually found these blooming back on March 5th but I’m just now getting around to posting the photos). They are field speedwell (Veronica agrestis) and common chickweed (Stellaria media). If anyone disagrees with identification of these plants please don’t hesitate to let me know (click on the photo for a better look). I’m not nearly as certain about my botanical identifications as I am with my ornithological identifications. I used the keys in Plants of Pennsylvania (Rhoads and Block 2007) to identify these. I am most uncertain about the Veronica. It shouldn’t be blooming until April. But I went through the keys several times with it and still came up with this one.

Start time: 8:50

End time: 12:40

Temp: 30-34°

Wind: 7-17 mph from the west

Skies: mostly cloudy light snow flurries, occasional sun breaks

Species Total: 46

  • Great Blue Heron – 2
  • Black Vulture – approximately 10
  • Turkey Vulture – approximately 25
  • Canada Goose – approximately 150
  • Mallard – 9
  • Common Merganser – 2
  • Bald Eagle – 1 immature
  • Sharp-shinned Hawk – 1 adult
  • Red-tailed Hawk – 6, 4 adults, two immature
  • American Kestrel – 1 male
  • Killdeer – 4, still an uncommon bird at the preserve!
  • Mourning Dove – 2
  • Belted Kingfisher – 1
  • Red-bellied Woodpecker – 5
  • Yellow-bellied Sapsucker – 1
  • Downy Woodpecker – 2
  • Hairy Woodpecker – 1
  • Northern Flicker – 1
  • Eastern Phoebe – 1
  • Blue Jay – approximately 10
  • American Crow – approximately 30
  • Fish Crow – 3
  • Tree Swallow – 7
  • Carolina Chickadee – approximately 10
  • Tufted Titmouse – approximately 10
  • White-breasted Nuthatch – 4
  • Carolina Wren – approximately 5, heard only
  • Eastern Bluebird – approximately 20
  • American Robin – approximately 150
  • Northern Mockingbird – 3
  • European Starling – approximately 75
  • Eastern Towhee – 4
  • Field Sparrow – 7
  • Savannah Sparrow – 1
  • Fox Sparrow – 3
  • Song Sparrow – approximately 100
  • Swamp Sparrow – 1
  • White-throated Sparrow – approximately 250
  • Dark-eyed Junco – approximately 25
  • Northern Cardinal – approximately 15
  • Red-winged Blackbird – approximately 100
  • Rusty Blackbird – 1
  • Common Grackle – 1
  • Brown-headed Cowbird – approximately 15
  • House Finch – 1
  • American Goldfinch – 3