The Stroud Preserve, 5 March 2013

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What a beautiful day! As beautiful as the day was, it looked and sounded really lifeless. I figured it was literally the calm before the storm. I thought it would be another run of the mill late winter day at the preserve. There were a few things here and there, but not much to slow me down. Within a few minutes a Turkey Vulture appeared then a Black Vulture shortly thereafter. “Good. I knocked those off” I thought. At about 9:00 I saw a group of four Black Vultures circling overhead. Amongst them was another bird. I immediately knew it was a good one as it didn’t look like a Red-tailed Hawk or an accipiter. I quickly got it in my binoculars to see that it was an adult Peregrine Falcon! This was a long over due bird for the preserve (167 for the preserve, 151 for me, and 67 for the year).

The Great Horned Owl made another minor change in behavior. Today it was sitting nearly upright in the nest. I looked very hard for chicks but none could be seen. Otherwise, things were indeed pretty slow. Again, numbers of everything were down. Even Red-winged Blackbirds seemed to be few in numbers than the last week or so. The only other notable species were three Field Sparrows at the northwest corner of the preserve.

While I had a hard time finding birds today, one of the birds found me. I was walking along the path that runs west of the serpentine outcrop when I heard a woodpecker tapping. There are many trees there with many dead branches. I searched in vain for 10-15 minutes without any luck when all of the sudden something, larger and more substantial than a leaf, hit me on my head! I looked down to see a big piece of bark about 5 inches long and 2 wide, laying on the ground. I then looked up to see a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker pecking away at a dead branch about 30 feet up. Tapping mystery solved…the hard way. I didn’t need to be told twice to move out of the way.

Back at the parking lot, I usually take a short walk down along the fence that goes beside Creek Road where I can reliably flush up a hand full of Savannah Sparrows, which is usually my final species of the day. I walked down the road and flushed up nothing. Calling it a day I then turned around and walked back along the same path that I covered just seconds before flushing up no less than 10 Savannah Sparrows. That left me scratching my head. As I stood there scratching a flock of over 100 American Pipits flew over, circled, and finally landed in the short grassy area over near the “Shrek” Barn down the road. And with that, I did call it a day.

I did note three more flowering plants, all introduced weeds; Thyme-leaved sandwort (Arenaria serpyllifolia), hairy bittercress (Cardamine hirsuta), and Creeping speedwell (Veronica filiformis). 

Start time: 8:40

End time: 12:05

Temp: 32-40°

Wind: slight from the east

Skies: clear

Species Total: 33

  • Black Vulture – approximately 20
  • Turkey Vulture – approximately 20
  • Canada Goose – approximately 300
  • Mallard – 12
  • Red-tailed Hawk – 8, as is becoming usual, 6 apparently paired adults, and 2 immature
  • Peregrine Falcon – 1, adult! Bird of the Day!
  • Great Horned Owl – at least 1, same bird, same place
  • Red-bellied Woodpecker – approximately 10
  • Yellow-bellied Sapsucker – 1
  • Downy Woodpecker – 2
  • Hairy Woodpecker – approximately 8
  • Northern Flicker – 2
  • Blue Jay – 2
  • American Crow – 10
  • Carolina Chickadee – approximately 10
  • Tufted Titmouse – approximately 10
  • White-breasted Nuthatch – approximately 10
  • Carolina Wren – approximately 5
  • Eastern Bluebird – approximately 30
  • American Robin – 1
  • Northern Mockingbird – 4
  • European Starling – approximately 50
  • American Pipit – approximately 100
  • Eastern Towhee – 1, heard only
  • Field Sparrow – 3
  • Savannah Sparrow – approximately 10
  • Song Sparrow – approximately 40
  • White-throated Sparrow – approximately 20
  • Dark-eyed Junco – 1
  • Northern Cardinal – approximately 15
  • Red-winged Blackbird – approximately 25
  • Common Grackle – 1
  • House Finch – 7