Lilypons Water Gardens, Frederick County, Maryland

IMG_6213.jpg

Today, at the recommendation of a fellow birder at the Professional Development Center (Thanks Larry!), I visited Lilypons Water Gardens, which lies beside of the Monocacy River and just south of Buckeystown and east of the Sugarloaf Mountain Natural Area. This spot was described to me as a commercial aquatic horticultural operation with a multitude of little ponds that attract a vast variety of birds. I first thought it was “Lilly Ponds” Water Gardens, but that would be incorrect. I thought Lilypons was a strange spelling but didn’t think about it again.

IMG_6223.jpg

As I walked around I found out that the location has a long history and that the spelling was for a specific reason. At the store located on the site I saw a plaque on the wall by the entrance. “Lily Pons,” post office, and Metropolitan Opera Singer made absolutely no sense to me. When I got back to my room I used the modern investigative tool, Google, dig up some history on the place.

The Lilypons Water Gardens is a family owned business that was started in 1917. It started out as Three Springs Fisheries specializing in goldfish and water lilies. In 1930 it started doing business by mail order. By 1935 the mail orders were so numerous that the US Postal Service decided to establish a post office on site. What to name this new post office? Well, as it turns out, the owner was a huge opera fan and his favorite singer and most popular singer of the day was, you guessed it, Lily Pons. Perfect, except that the post office requested that the name of the new office be one word. The post office ceased operations there in 1966 and in 1975 Three Springs Fisheries became Lilypons Water Gardens located in Adamstown, MD 21710. Who knew? Read the full history on the company website here.

As for birds, it seemed relatively quiet. There were a number of Rusty Blackbirds which are always a pleasure to see. The most numerous group of birds were sparrows, however, species diversity was pretty low with only Song, Swamp, and White-throated present. With all that aquatic vegetation I was hopeful that a Nelson’s or LeConte’s Sparrow would have popped out somewhere, but they didn’t. I was surprised to see three species of wrens, Carolina, Winter, and Marsh.

There were as many as 5 Red-shouldered Hawks in area with possibly as many as 7 or 8, which is a little puzzling to me. When I moved back to the east coast I assumed Red-shouldered Hawks would be one of the more common raptors around West Chester. However, in the two years that I have been birding at the Stroud Preserve, which is very similar in habitat and general appearance, I have only seen single Red-shouldered Hawks on eight occasions.

The last notable flying organism had scales instead of feathers. At 10:00 with a temperature of approximately 38º I saw two sulphur butterflies. It seemed a little on the cold side for butterflies to be flying!

Start time: 7:30

End time: 11:00

Temp: 28-45º

Wind: 0-9 mph from the north

Skies: clear

Species Total: 44

  • Great Blue Heron – at least 6
  • Great Egret – 1
  • Black Vulture – 5
  • Turkey Vulture – 14
  • Canada Goose – approximately 50
  • Wood Duck – 4
  • Mallard – 7
  • Green-winged Teal – 5
  • Hooded Merganser – 1
  • Bald Eagle – 1, immature
  • Red-shouldered Hawk – at least 5
  • Red-tailed Hawk – 3, 1 adult, 2 immatures
  • American Kestrel – 1 male
  • Wilson's Snipe – 8
  • Rock Dove – 2
  • Mourning Dove – 1
  • Belted Kingfisher – 4
  • Downy Woodpecker – 5
  • Hairy Woodpecker – 1
  • Northern Flicker – 3
  • Pileated Woodpecker – 1
  • Blue Jay – 4, heard only
  • American Crow – approximately 25
  • Carolina Chickadee – approximately 20
  • White-breasted Nuthatch – 1, heard only
  • Carolina Wren – approximately 15
  • Winter Wren – 1
  • Marsh Wren – 2
  • Golden-crowned Kinglet – approximately 10
  • Eastern Bluebird – 6
  • American Robin – 2
  • Northern Mockingbird – 5
  • European Starling – approximately 15
  • Cedar Waxwing – approximately 30
  • Yellow-rumped Warbler – 2
  • Eastern Towhee – 1, heard only
  • Song Sparrow – approximately 100
  • Swamp Sparrow – approximately 25
  • White-throated Sparrow – approximately 25
  • Dark-eyed Junco – approximately 10
  • Northern Cardinal – approximately 10
  • Red-winged Blackbird – approximately 15
  • Rusty Blackbird – approximately 25
  • American Goldfinch – approximately 15

 

The Stroud Preserve, 15 October 2013

   SPICEBUSH    Lindera
benzoin  (L.) Blume  15 October 2013, Stroud Preserve, West Chester,
Chester County, Pennsylvania. 






  
  
   
  
  

  
  
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 SPICEBUSH Lindera benzoin (L.) Blume 15 October 2013, Stroud Preserve, West Chester, Chester County, Pennsylvania.

Today the Stroud Preserve had the look of fall and the feel of summer, as it was quite warm and nearly windless. Bird life was listless, which could have been a factor of my late start. There seemed to be far more butterflies flying about than birds.

The bird of the day was a gianormous dobsonfly that flew past nearly taking off my head near the old farm pond. Judging from the size of it’s mandibles, which seemed to be half of the total length of the insect, I would guess that it was a male. I remember seeing many of these growing up South Carolina, but this is one of the few that I have seen in Southeastern Pennsylvania.

Now that I have a fairly good grip on the birds and plants of the Stroud Preserve I think the project that I would like to undertake next year is to start an inventory of butterflies. I have a fairly large insect collection that I primarily use for educational purposes. I have only one tray of butterflies and I would like to keep it that way for two reasons, the first is that butterflies take up lots of room in Cornell trays and that gets expensive as time goes on. The second reason is that I don’t really enjoy pinning butterflies. If I forgo collecting butterflies specimens I’ll need to get a good camera so that I can document what is there. Good camera is something I’ll have to save for. So until that happens, I’ll stick to plants and birds.

  SPICEBUSH    Lindera
benzoin  (L.) Blume  11 April 2013, Stroud Preserve, West Chester,
Chester County, Pennsylvania. 






  
  
   
  
  

  
  
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SPICEBUSH Lindera benzoin (L.) Blume 11 April 2013, Stroud Preserve, West Chester, Chester County, Pennsylvania.

Speaking of plants, the photo above is the fruit from a spicebush (Lindera benzoin). These little red berries, actually a drupe, have been a long time in coming as the flowers of the spicebush (right) are amongst the first flowers to be seen in the spring, flowering far in advance of the leaves.  Spicebush along with several species of viburnum are amongst the most dominant of the native shrubs of the forest understory here in Southeastern PA. Here I emphasize “native” as the non-native honeysuckles, privet, and autumn-olive far out number the native shrubs. It is one of only two members of the Laurel family that occur in Pennsylvania, the other being sassafras (Sassafras albidum). Sassafras is quite common in most parts of Chester County, but locally on the Stroud Preserve, it seems to be few and far between. 

 

Start time: 9:52

End time: 12:09

Temp: 57-64º

Wind: 0-4 from the northeast

Skies: clear

Species Total: 39

 

  • Black Vulture – 25, I observed one kettle of 21 individuals
  • Turkey Vulture – 10
  • Canada Goose – approximately 20
  • Wood Duck – 4
  • Sharp-shinned Hawk – 2
  • Red-tailed Hawk – 2
  • American Kestrel – 1
  • Rock Dove – 4
  • Mourning Dove – approximately 10
  • Red-bellied Woodpecker – 5
  • Downy Woodpecker – 2
  • Hairy Woodpecker – 1
  • Northern Flicker – 5
  • American Crow – approximately 30
  • Tree Swallow – approximately 20
  • Carolina Chickadee – approximately 10
  • Tufted Titmouse – approximately 10
  • White-breasted Nuthatch – 2 heard only
  • Carolina Wren – 2, heard only
  • Golden-crowned Kinglet – 1
  • Ruby-crowned Kinglet – 2
  • Eastern Bluebird – 5
  • American Robin – 3
  • Gray Catbird – 1
  • Northern Mockingbird – 1
  • European Starling – approximately 40
  • Cedar Waxwing – approximately 15
  • Yellow-rumped Warbler – approximately 20
  • Palm Warbler – 1
  • Eastern Towhee – 6
  • Song Sparrow – approximately 30
  • Swamp Sparrow – approximately 10
  • White-throated Sparrow – approximately 15
  • Northern Cardinal – 4
  • Red-winged Blackbird – approximately 10
  • Brown-headed Cowbird – 1
  • House Finch – 11
  • American Goldfinch – approximately 10

Exton Park, 14 October 2013

IMG_6043.jpg

On Sunday I saw  a report on PABIRDS of a Nelson's Sparrow at Exton Park, in Exton of all places. Having never been there and seeing that it was only about 4.5 miles I thought I'd go check it out. Nelson's Sparrow is a species that I haven't seen since in a long time and it has been on my list of birds that I'd like to find at the Stroud Preserve. 

I didn't have much time to explore the 700 acre park, but I did find the spot where the sparrow was seen the day before. There were many Swamp, Song and White-throated Sparrows, a handful of Lincoln's Sparrows and a single Field Sparrow. I could not find a Nelson's Sparrow anywhere. 

Otherwise, I enjoyed my walk around the pond. Other highlights were a Merlin and an adult Bald Eagle and my first fall Yellow-bellied Sapsucker. I heard but did not see a Greater Yellowlegs. The full list of birds is below.  

 

Start time: 10:00

End time: 12:22

Temp: 56-61º

Wind: 5 from the northeast

Skies: clear

Species Total: 39

  • Black Vulture – 4
  • Turkey Vulture – 20
  • Canada Goose – approximately 350, mostly overhead
  • Wood Duck – 4
  • Mallard – approximately 50
  • Bald Eagle – 1, adult
  • Cooper's Hawk – 2
  • Red-tailed Hawk – 1
  • Merlin – 1
  • Greater Yellowlegs – 1, heard only.
  • Rock Dove – 5
  • Mourning Dove – 8
  • Yellow-bellied Sapsucker – 1
  • Downy Woodpecker – 2
  • Northern Flicker – 4
  • Blue Jay – approximately 20
  • American Crow – approximately 5
  • Fish Crow – approximately 10
  • Crow sp. – approximately 50. There were many crows but only calling in the proportions noted above.
  • Tree Swallow – approximately 50
  • Carolina Chickadee – 5
  • Tufted Titmouse – 1
  • Carolina Wren – 2
  • Golden-crowned Kinglet – 1
  • Ruby-crowned Kinglet – 4
  • Eastern Bluebird – 2
  • American Robin – 5
  • Northern Mockingbird – 1
  • European Starling – approximately 25
  • Cedar Waxwing – approximately 10
  • Yellow-rumped Warbler – approximately 100. The trees around the pond and wetlands were filled with these.
  • Eastern Towhee – 3
  • Field Sparrow – 1
  • Song Sparrow – approximately 25
  • Lincoln's Sparrow – 5
  • Swamp Sparrow – approximately 20
  • White-throated Sparrow – approximately 20
  • Northern Cardinal – 5
  • Red-winged Blackbird – approximately 40
  • American Goldfinch – approximately 10

The Stroud Preserve, 8 October 2013

IMG_5933.jpg

It has been quite a while since the last time I posted anything about birds at the Stroud Preserve. This is primarily due to the fact that I have not been birding there in quite a while. I spent much of the summer working on plants there. During much of the breeding season, my birding efforts were searching for birds that I thought might be here but couldn’t find, primarily woodland species like Hooded, Kentucky, Worm-eating and Prothonotary Warblers. I searched what I thought might be appropriate habitat listening and using playback to conclusively determine that they did not occur on the preserve. Looking for and not finding birds generally takes a lot of effort and produces a very boring species list.

The other complicating factor that has kept me away from the preserve since the first of August is that I secured a paying job after two years of unemployment. This was and especially difficult tasks because finding something in my career path (wildlife biology and ecology) is particularly difficult in Southeastern Pennsylvania. It is a position with a federal agency which has an intensive job training program in Maryland. So, I’ve been physically away from the area, which in turn, makes it hard to get out birding here. However, after seven weeks of steady work, I got furloughed. Such is life working in the public sector. It’s not the first time that I’ve had to deal with something like this and I’m sure it will not be the last.

The upside to being furloughed is that I got to go birding to day at the Stroud Preserve. I was hopeful that the storm front that passed through here yesterday would have brought waves of migrant birds to the east fork of the Brandywine Creek. And to this end, I was disappointed. The up side is that I did tally a new species for the preserve list! There were approximately 15 Dickcissels in the vegetation covering the old pond bed. These were the first Dickcissels that I have seen since returning to the east coast in August of 2011.

Other birds that were noteworthy were a pair of Kestrels and a single Merlin. The Kestrels were dive-bombing the Merlin. Once the Merlin was driven off, the Kestrels foraged along the fields on the north side of the preserve where the Bobolinks nest. There were also approximately 25 Snow Geese in two groups, in the first 15 followed by 10 more about 20 minutes later. They were both heading south-southwest.  

What I didn’t see today were waves of migrant birds; only three warblers totaling 6 individuals. For the most part it was pretty quiet today. I did have stellar views of the Yellow-throated Vireo which is always nice. Since I have been away from the area for the last seven weeks I don’t really have a good grip on whether any of the birds that I saw today are early or late or otherwise.

 

Start time: 8:55

End time: 1:10

Temp: 54-63º

Wind: 5-7 from the north

Skies: Clear

Species Total: 46

  • Black Vulture – 15
  • Turkey Vulture – 25
  • Snow Goose – 25
  • Canada Goose – 10
  • Mallard – 8
  • Sharp-shinned Hawk – 1
  • Cooper's Hawk – 3
  • Red-tailed Hawk – 4
  • American Kestrel – 2
  • Merlin – 1
  • Mourning Dove – 20
  • Red-bellied Woodpecker – 4
  • Downy Woodpecker – 4
  • Northern Flicker – 2
  • Pileated Woodpecker – 1, heard only
  • Eastern Wood-Pewee – 2
  • Yellow-throated Vireo – 1
  • Blue Jay – 18
  • American Crow – 30
  • Fish Crow – 2
  • Tree Swallow – 10
  • Carolina Chickadee – 15
  • Tufted Titmouse – 2
  • White-breasted Nuthatch – 3
  • Carolina Wren – 4
  • House Wren – 2
  • Ruby-crowned Kinglet – 2
  • Eastern Bluebird – 8
  • American Robin – 10
  • Gray Catbird – 5
  • Northern Mockingbird – 3
  • European Starling – 5
  • Cedar Waxwing – 55, in two flocks of approximately 25 and 30
  • Yellow-rumped Warbler – 1
  • Palm Warbler – 2
  • Common Yellowthroat – 3
  • Eastern Towhee – 10
  • Song Sparrow – 20
  • Lincoln's Sparrow – 5
  • Swamp Sparrow – 15
  • White-throated Sparrow – 10
  • Northern Cardinal – 4
  • Dickcissel – 15, New bird for the preserve! Approximate number as they were foraging in the vegetation of the old farm pond in a loose flock and were difficult to count. The most I observed at one time were 8. 
  • Red-winged Blackbird – 3
  • House Finch – 15
  • American Goldfinch – 25

Stroud Preserve, 15 June 2013

  Venus' looking-glass      Triodanis
perfoliata  (L.) Nieuwl.  15 June 2013, Stroud Preserve, West Chester, Chester County,
Pennsylvania. 






  
  
   
  
  

  
  
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Venus' looking-glass Triodanis perfoliata (L.) Nieuwl. 15 June 2013, Stroud Preserve, West Chester, Chester County, Pennsylvania.

Whoa! It’s been a long time since I’ve done a bird post to le blog. Since 10 May to be exact. You might wonder where I’ve been. Well, I’ve been here, I just changed gears a little bit from birds to plants. When I was mostly focused on birds, I could go out birding, then come home write my notes as a blog post, post it and be done with it all in 30 minutes or so. Plants are a different matter.

Many plants I know. Most I do not. Especially the hard ones, like grasses, sedges, and rushes. Many of these require that I collect a specimen and bring it home and examine it under my microscope. The technical keys are, well, technical. They also employ the botanical lexicon with which I am quite rusty. So, things are slow and I usually go late into the night working on plant identifications. The result is this doesn’t leave much time to blog [case in point, I wrote this post on the 15th and I’m just getting around to posting it!].

The other complication is that my schedule altered slightly and most of my visits have been in the afternoon well past the time good for birds. This was compounded by the fact that my car, a 1994 Honda Passport with 270,000 plus miles, needed some attention from our local mechanic. I’ll spare you from the details of that unpleasantry.

The good news for me is that school is out and I no longer have to see the kids off to the bus, which frees up my morning quite a bit. My car is now moving forward again. However, I still try not to drive it and use my bicycle when ever possible. I’ll still be focused on plants but should be able to do at least one breeding season post per week.

As far as plants go, feel free to check out my photo albums for each family. I have many hundreds of photos posted at this point. If you see anything that is incorrectly identified, please don’t hesitate to let me know. My main focus with the plant project is to inventory all that grows at the Stroud Preserve. You can check out my running list here.

As for birds, I did manage to get out on Saturday (15 June 2013). I believe everything on my list below is pretty normal for this time of year. The most exciting thing for me was the many Yellow-billed Cuckoos that I heard and saw. Last summer I did not see or hear any. In fact, I did not record one for the preserve at all until the fall. Even then, I only saw two. On Saturday I saw twice as many as I have ever see or heard in total previously!

Here are the rest of the details. I misplaced my notes on the numbers seen today so an X signifies presence. All observations from 15 June unless otherwise noted.

 

Start time: 8:00 AM

End time: 1:00 PM

Temp: 60-82°

Wind: slight to none

Skies: Clear

Species Total: 58

  • Black Vulture – X
  • Turkey Vulture – X
  • Red-tailed Hawk – I haven’t check the nest site on the north side of the preserve since the middle of May.
  • Wild Turkey – heard calling on 19 June on the southwest side of the preserve.
  • Rock Dove – X
  • Mourning Dove – X
  • Yellow-billed Cuckoo – Up to 6 birds seen or heard. I did not detect this species at all last summer.
  • Barred Owl – a pair calling along the green trail where I suspect they nested.
  • Chimney Swift – X
  • Ruby-throated Hummingbird – X
  • Belted Kingfisher – X
  • Red-bellied Woodpecker – X
  • Downy Woodpecker – X
  • Hairy Woodpecker – X
  • Northern Flicker – X
  • Pileated Woodpecker – Absent, last recorded on 10 May
  • Eastern Wood-Pewee – X
  • Acadian Flycatcher – A number of birds can be found calling in wooded areas of the preserve.
  • Willow Flycatcher – Many birds calling in open areas with small trees or shrubs.
  • Eastern Phoebe – X
  • Eastern Kingbird – X
  • White-eyed Vireo – X
  • Warbling Vireo – X
  • Red-eyed Vireo – X
  • Blue Jay – X
  • American Crow – X
  • Fish Crow – Not recorded at the preserve, however, numerous birds can be seen in downtown West Chester feeding fledglings.
  • Tree Swallow – X
  • Northern Rough-winged Swallow – X
  • Bank Swallow – X
  • Carolina Chickadee – X
  • Tufted Titmouse – X
  • White-breasted Nuthatch – X
  • Carolina Wren – X
  • House Wren – X
  • Blue-gray Gnatcatcher – X
  • Eastern Bluebird – X
  • Veery – X
  • Wood Thrush – X
  • American Robin – X
  • Gray Catbird – X
  • Northern Mockingbird – X
  • Brown Thrasher – X
  • European Starling – X
  • Cedar Waxwing – X
  • Blue-winged Warbler – Multiple males singing on territory.
  • Ovenbird – X
  • Common Yellowthroat – X
  • Eastern Towhee – X
  • Chipping Sparrow – X
  • Field Sparrow – X
  • Song Sparrow – X
  • Northern Cardinal – X
  • Indigo Bunting – X
  • Bobolink – 15 to 20 birds in the usual nesting area.
  • Red-winged Blackbird – X
  • Eastern Meadowlark – ? I have not been able to check the suspected nesting area because of road construction. Last noted on 10 May.
  • Common Grackle – Strangely difficult to see in the summer months. Very common in other urban areas around West Chester and Exton.
  • Brown-headed Cowbird – X
  • Orchard Oriole – X
  • Baltimore Oriole – X
  • House Finch – X
  • American Goldfinch – X

 

The Stroud Preserve, 10 May 2013

  Wood geranium    Geranium
maculatum  L.,  10 May 2013, Stroud Preserve, West Chester, Chester
County, Pennsylvania. 






  
  
   
  
  

  
  
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Wood geranium Geranium maculatum L., 10 May 2013, Stroud Preserve, West Chester, Chester County, Pennsylvania.

Wow! What a difference a day makes. I went from 53 species yesterday to 82 today. My combined warbler list for the past three visits was 9. Today’s total was 16, one of which was new for the preserve. Also added to my preserve list was Black-billed Cuckoo. In all, I added 14 first-of-the-year birds. A busy day at last!

I’ll let the notes below speak for themselves.

Start time: 8:50

End time: 1:30

Temp: 63-73°

Wind: 3 mph from the north

Skies: clear

Species Total: 82

  • Great Blue Heron – 1, both flyovers
  • Black Vulture – 3
  • Turkey Vulture – approximately 15
  • Canada Goose – 4
  • Wood Duck – 2
  • Mallard – 2
  • Red-tailed Hawk – 2
  • Mourning Dove – 1
  • Black-billed Cuckoo – 1, FOY and new for my preserve list and the first one that I have seen since moving back the east coast 19 months ago.
  • Barred Owl – In the same general area as yesterday.
  • Chimney Swift – approximately 40
  • Ruby-throated Hummingbird – 1, FOY
  • Belted Kingfisher – 1
  • Red-bellied Woodpecker – approximately 10
  • Downy Woodpecker – 2
  • Hairy Woodpecker – 1
  • Northern Flicker – 2
  • Pileated Woodpecker – 1, heard only
  • Eastern Phoebe – 3
  • Great Crested Flycatcher – 2, FOY
  • Eastern Kingbird – 2
  • White-eyed Vireo – approximately 8
  • Blue-headed Vireo – 1
  • Warbling Vireo – approximately 10
  • Red-eyed Vireo – 2
  • Blue Jay – approximately 15, observed one nest building.
  • American Crow – approximately 10
  • Fish Crow – 1 on the east side of the preserve.
  • Tree Swallow – approximately 50
  • Northern Rough-winged Swallow – approximately 20
  • Barn Swallow – approximately 20
  • Horned Lark – 1, FOY, I had a nice look as it flew over head. First one since the fall.
  • Carolina Chickadee – 4, I don’t know where all of these went overnight.
  • Tufted Titmouse – approximately 12
  • White-breasted Nuthatch – 4
  • Carolina Wren – 5
  • House Wren – 2
  • Blue-gray Gnatcatcher – approximately 10
  • Eastern Bluebird – approximately 10
  • Veery – 1, FOY
  • Swainson’s Thrush – 4, FOY
  • Wood Thrush – approximately 8
  • American Robin – approximately 20
  • Gray Catbird – approximately 30. The catbird factory is now open for business.
  • Northern Mockingbird – 2
  • Brown Thrasher – 1
  • European Starling – approximately 10
  • Blue-winged Warbler – 1
  • Northern Parula – 7,
  • Yellow Warbler – approximately 25
  • Chestnut-sided Warbler – 1, FOY
  • Magnolia Warbler – at least 2, possibly a few others. FOY
  • Black-throated Blue Warbler – approximately 20. FOY. Probably the most common warbler behind Yellow Warbler and Yellowthroat. The woods were filled with both males and females.
  • Yellow-rumped Warbler – approximately 10
  • Black-thraoted Green Warbler – 3
  • Yellow-throated Warbler – 1, FOY. A singing male. It took me a while to find it in the trees along the green trail.
  • Prairie Warbler – 2
  • Blackpoll Warbler – 3, FOY
  • Black-and-white Warbler – 3, heard only
  • American Redstart – approximately 12
  • Ovenbird – 3
  • Northern Waterthrush – 2, FOY, a long the Brandywine.
  • Louisiana Waterthrush – 1, same location as yesterday.
  • Common Yellowthroat – approximately 20
  • Summer Tanager – 1, female, FOY.
  • Eastern Towhee – approximately 15
  • Chipping Sparrow – 1
  • Field Sparrow – approximately 10
  • Song Sparrow – approximately 10
  • Swamp Sparrow – 1
  • White-throated Sparrow – approximately 25, all in the woods along the green trail.
  • Northern Cardinal – approximately 20
  • Rose-breasted Grosbeak – 1 singing male. FOY
  • Indigo Bunting – 2, males. FOY
  • Bobolink – 3, all on the south side of the preserve away from the traditional nesting grounds.
  • Red-winged Blackbird – approximately 30
  • Eastern Meadowlark – 1, in the same location as previously described.
  • Brown-headed Cowbird – approximately 12
  • Orchard Oriole – 4
  • Baltimore Oriole – approximately 10
  • House Finch – 2
  • American Goldfinch – approximately 20

 

The Stroud Preserve, 9 May 2013

  Purple cliffbreak    Pellaea
atropurpurea  (L.) Link  9 May 2013, Stroud Preserve, West Chester,
Chester County, Pennsylvania. 






  
  
   
  
  

  
  
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Purple cliffbreak Pellaea atropurpurea (L.) Link 9 May 2013, Stroud Preserve, West Chester, Chester County, Pennsylvania.

Today I spent the majority of my time focused on plants with preserve manager Fred Gender. I could have probably tallied more birds for the day list if I looked up more often, but I can’t complain about that today. I did manage to get one new bird for the year. Finally, after nineteen months after moving back to the east coast and many hours of fruitless searching I heard, the got extended looks at a Louisiana Waterthrush!

The waterthrush was in one of the smaller streams that drain off one of the hillsides in the preserve. Specifically, the stream along the “green” trail (I’ve started calling it green creek). It is probably the best creek in terms of a wooded stream with a completely covered tree canopy. It is perfect place to see a Louisiana Waterthrush.

Here is everything else. I didn’t really pay much attention to numbers today so unless otherwise noted and “x” will have to do.

Start time: 9:10

End time: 3:00

Temp: 63-68°

Wind: 3-7 mph from the east and south

Skies: overcast, with occasional sunbreaks

Species Total: 53

  • Black Vulture – X
  • Turkey Vulture – X
  • Canada Goose – X
  • Red-tailed Hawk – X
  • Mourning Dove – X
  • Chimney Swift – X
  • Belted Kingfisher – 1
  • Red-bellied Woodpecker – X
  • Downy Woodpecker – X
  • Northern Flicker – X
  • Eastern Phoebe – X
  • Eastern Kingbird – 1
  • White-eyed Vireo – X
  • Warbling Vireo – X
  • Blue Jay – X
  • American Crow – X
  • Fish Crow – 2
  • Tree Swallow – X
  • Northern Rough-winged Swallow – X
  • Barn Swallow – X
  • Carolina Chickadee – X
  • Tufted Titmouse – X
  • White-breasted Nuthatch – X
  • Carolina Wren – X
  • House Wren – X
  • Blue-gray Gnatcatcher – X
  • Eastern Bluebird – X
  • Wood Thrush – X, heard only
  • American Robin – X
  • Gray Catbird – X
  • Northern Mockingbird – X
  • Brown Thrasher – X
  • European Starling – X
  • Northern Parula – 3
  • Yellow Warbler – X
  • Yellow-rumped Warbler – 1, heard only
  • Black-thraoted Green Warbler – 2, heard only
  • Prairie Warbler – 1, heard only
  • Black-and-white Warbler – 1, heard only
  • Ovenbird – 1, heard only
  • Louisiana Waterthrush – 1, FOY, Bird of the Day!
  • Common Yellowthroat – X
  • Eastern Towhee – X
  • Chipping Sparrow – 1
  • Field Sparrow – X
  • Song Sparrow – X
  • Northern Cardinal – X
  • Bobolink – 5, as with the past two visit, these birds were not in the usual field but in the larger field on the south side of the preserve.
  • Red-winged Blackbird – X
  • Brown-headed Cowbird – X
  • Orchard Oriole – X
  • Baltimore Oriole – X
  • American Goldfinch – X

The Stroud Preserve, 8 May 2013

  Nodding trillium    Trillium
cernuum  L.  8 May 2013, Stroud Reseve, West Chester, Chester County,
Pennsylvania. 






  
  
   
  
  

  
  
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Nodding trillium Trillium cernuum L. 8 May 2013, Stroud Reseve, West Chester, Chester County, Pennsylvania.

Finally, a step forward! Not a big step forward, but a step forward nonetheless. I picked up 4 new birds for the year, Barred Owl, Northern Parula, Black-throated Green Warbler, and Ovenbird. I almost decided not to go out as all today because of heavy rain. But my little iPhone app said it would be ending by 10:00 AM. So, I headed out at 10:30 just to be safe. My app lied. There was light rain until about 11:30.

I haven’t checked the Eastern Meadowlark spot for a while because of road work that blocks easy access. I decided to make the extra effort to see if the male at the corner of Creek and Strasburg Road was still there. I have yet to see this bird interact with another meadowlark or any other signs of nesting. But, that it is still there lends hope that it will.

While the handful of new year-birds was exciting, it was overshadowed with the location of 23 nodding trilliums (Trillium cernuum). I had given up hope of finding any of these as I have checked all of the suitable habitats on the preserve several times. I had high hopes that I would find some at the site from last year but after searching the area I came put empty. However, I did find what I believe is a netted chain fern (Woodwardia areolata). I’m still working on the final confirmation, but if correct, it would be a nice addition to the preserves flora list.

Start time: 10:40

End time: 3:00

Temp: 63-68°

Wind: 3-7 from the east

Skies: Rain to partly clearing by 2:00 pm

Species Total: 61

  • Great Blue Heron – 2
  • Black Vulture – approximately 10
  • Turkey Vulture – approximately 15
  • Canada Goose – 8
  • Mallard – 2
  • Red-tailed Hawk – 3
  • Solitary Sandpiper – 1 along the Brandywine.
  • Mourning Dove – 5
  • Barred Owl – 1, FOY, along the “green trail” which is a different area than last spring. I’ve gotten several
  • Chimney Swift – approximately 50
  • Red-bellied Woodpecker – approximately 10
  • Downy Woodpecker – 4
  • Hairy Woodpecker – 1
  • Northern Flicker – 2
  • Eastern Phoebe – 2
  • Eastern Kingbird – 2
  • White-eyed Vireo – approximately 10
  • Warbling Vireo – approximately 10
  • Blue Jay – approximately 15
  • American Crow – 6
  • Fish Crow – 4, on the east side of the preserve.
  • Tree Swallow – approximately 100
  • Northern Rough-winged Swallow – approximately 20
  • Barn Swallow – approximately 30
  • Carolina Chickadee – approximately 10
  • Tufted Titmouse – approximately 10
  • White-breasted Nuthatch – 3
  • Carolina Wren – approximately 10
  • House Wren – 2
  • Blue-gray Gnatcatcher – approximately 15
  • Eastern Bluebird – approximately 10
  • Wood Thrush – 5
  • American Robin – approximately 25
  • Gray Catbird – approximately 15
  • Northern Mockingbird – 2
  • Brown Thrasher – 1
  • European Starling – approximately 10
  • Cedar Waxwing – approximately 10, heard only.
  • Northern Parula – 3, FOY, singing along the Brandywine.
  • Yellow Warbler – approximately 15
  • Yellow-rumped Warbler – 2
  • Black-thraoted Green Warbler – 1, FOY, heard only
  • Black-and-white Warbler – 2
  • Ovenbird – 1, FOY
  • Common Yellowthroat – approximately 10
  • Eastern Towhee – approximately 20
  • Chipping Sparrow – 2
  • Field Sparrow – approximately 10
  • Song Sparrow – approximately 20
  • Swamp Sparrow – 1
  • White-throated Sparrow – 1
  • Northern Cardinal – approximately 20
  • Bobolink – 3, in first field on the left, as with yesterday, not where I have seen them before.
  • Red-winged Blackbird – approximately 25
  • Eastern Meadowlark – 1, the same male on territory
  • Common Grackle – 2
  • Brown-headed Cowbird – approximately 12
  • Orchard Oriole – 5
  • Baltimore Oriole – 2
  • House Finch – 1
  • American Goldfinch – approximately 10

The Stroud Preserve 6 May 2013

IMG_3957.jpg

It seems as if migration is going forward for every location other than the Stroud Preserve. Here, it seems to be going backwards. I picked up no new arrivals and only 45 species. That things are slow is not just my imagination. For this day last spring I tallied 75 species. I never go fewer than 60 species for any day in May of 2013. I’m assuming it will get here sometime soon. Until then, there are plants to identify.

Just as with birds, plants can throw you a curve by possessing some type of aberrant feature. Above is a bulbous buttercup (Ranunculus bulbosus) with 10 petals. It should have only 5. You know it's a slow day with the highlight is a buttercup with 10 petals. 

Start time: 9:00

End time: 1:40

Temp: ? (to make a bad day more badder, I somehow deleted the temperature and wind data.)

Wind: ?

Skies: overcast

Species Total: 45

  • Black Vulture – 3
  • Turkey Vulture – approximately 12
  • Canada Goose – 8
  • Red-tailed Hawk – 2
  • Chimney Swift – approximately 30
  • Red-bellied Woodpecker – approximately 10
  • Downy Woodpecker – 3
  • Hairy Woodpecker – 2
  • Northern Flicker – 3
  • Eastern Phoebe – 2
  • Eastern Kingbird – 1
  • White-eyed Vireo – approximately 10
  • Warbling Vireo – 4
  • Blue Jay – approximately 15
  • American Crow – 3
  • Tree Swallow – approximately 50
  • Northern Rough-winged Swallow – approximately 20
  • Barn Swallow – approximately 30
  • Carolina Chickadee – approximately 10
  • Tufted Titmouse – approximately 10
  • White-breasted Nuthatch – 2
  • Carolina Wren – 5
  • House Wren – 2
  • Blue-gray Gnatcatcher – approximately 15
  • Eastern Bluebird – approximately 10
  • Wood Thrush – 1
  • American Robin – approximately 25
  • Gray Catbird – approximately 10
  • Northern Mockingbird – 1
  • Brown Thrasher – 1
  • European Starling – approximately 30
  • Yellow Warbler – approximately 15
  • Yellow-rumped Warbler – 1
  • Common Yellowthroat – approximately 10
  • Eastern Towhee – approximately 10
  • Chipping Sparrow – 1
  • Field Sparrow – approximately 10
  • Song Sparrow – approximately 20
  • Northern Cardinal – approximately 10
  • Bobolink – 6, these were flying over and calling from the field in the northwest corner of the preserve where I have never seen them before. I saw none in the traditional nesting area.
  • Red-winged Blackbird – approximately 50
  • Brown-headed Cowbird – approximately 12
  • Orchard Oriole – 3
  • Baltimore Oriole – 2
  • American Goldfinch – approximately 12

The Willisbrook Preserve, 3 May 2013

IMG_3891.jpg

Some how or another in the three miles between my house and the Stroud Preserve my GPS malfunctioned and I ended up at the Natural Land Trust’s Willisbrook Preserve near Paoli! Some people have asked me if I go birding in places other than the Stroud Preserve. Yes, occasionally.

My interest in the Willisbrook Preserve has less to do with birds and more to do with flora. The Stroud Preserve has a small serpentine out crop (a couple hundred square yards at the most) that has a small community of native plants that are adapted to serpentine soils. Willisbrook has about 20 acres of serpentine soils and likewise, the plant community is larger and more complex than the one at Stroud. Getting to know the plants at Willisbrook will probably help me understand things at Stroud a little better.

My interest in small grasslands isn’t just in passing. In graduate school I studied bird and plant communities in the remnant glacial outwash prairies of the South Puget Sound. While the details of the natural history between these grasslands are vast, literally a continent apart, the conservation and management concerns are quite similar.

As far as my visit today I saw my Prairie Warbler and Northern Paula for the spring. The wind was blowing pretty good which made picking up movement through the trees difficult, still, I ended up with 46 species which was pretty good for the small amount of ground that I covered.

American Holly Ilex opaca Aiton. 3 May 2013 Willisbrook Preserve, Malvern, Chester County, Pennsylvania.

The understory of the wooded area is completely dominated by greenbrier. The leaves weren’t out enough for me to identify the species but I suspect it is Smilax rotundifolia. The other tree related find was an American Holly (Ilex opaca). When I moved back here I was surprised to see this species on the Pennsylvania Natural Diversity Inventory List as endangered. There is certainly no shortage of it in the urban areas planted as an ornamental. But, as I have walked through the woodlands here I have certainly noted its absence. The one today was the first that looked like it was truly wild.

Tufted hairgrass Deschampsia cespitosa (L.) P.Beauv. 3 May 2013, Willisbrook Preserve, Malvern, Chester County, Pennsylvania.

The small patch of grassland is an absolute gold serpentine mine of grasses and sedges. The only one that I have identified with any confidence so far is Tufted hairgrass (Deschampsia cespitosa) which is a endangered species in PA found mainly in serpentine barrens.

Start time: 9:00

End time: 11:45

Temp: 55-63°

Wind: 18-10 mph from the east

Skies: clear

Species Total: 46

  • Turkey Vulture – 3
  • Red-tailed Hawk – 1
  • Killdeer – 2, with a chick or egg nearby as they were giving me quite the distraction display.
  • Mourning Dove – approximately 10
  • Chimney Swift – approximately 30
  • Red-bellied Woodpecker – 2
  • Downy Woodpecker – 1
  • Northern Flicker – 2
  • Eastern Phoebe – 2
  • White-eyed Vireo – 6
  • Warbling Vireo – 1
  • Blue Jay – approximately 10
  • American Crow – approximately 15
  • Fish Crow – 1
  • Tree Swallow – approximately 10
  • Northern Rough-winged Swallow – 1
  • Barn Swallow – approximately 15
  • Carolina Chickadee – 8
  • Tufted Titmouse – 2
  • White-breasted Nuthatch – 1
  • Carolina Wren – 2
  • House Wren – 5
  • Blue-gray Gnatcatcher – 4
  • Eastern Bluebird – 2
  • American Robin – approximately 10
  • Gray Catbird – 1
  • Northern Mockingbird – 3
  • European Starling – approximately 10
  • Northern Parula – 1
  • Yellow Warbler – 4
  • Yellow-rumped Warbler – 5
  • Prairie Warbler – 1
  • Palm Warbler – 1
  • Black-and-white Warbler – 1, heard only
  • Common Yellowthroat – approximately 10
  • Eastern Towhee – approximately 20
  • Chipping Sparrow – 4
  • Field Sparrow – 5
  • Savannah Sparrow – 1
  • Song Sparrow – approximately 10
  • White-throated Sparrow – approximately 10
  • Northern Cardinal – approximately 10
  • Red-winged Blackbird – approximately 20
  • Common Grackle – 2
  • Brown-headed Cowbird – approximately 10
  • American Goldfinch – approximately 15

The Stroud Preserve, 2 May 2013

  Nodding Trillium    Trillium
cernuum  L.  29 April 2012, Stroud Reseve, West Chester, Chester County,
Pennsylvania. 






  
  
   
  
  

  
  
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Nodding Trillium Trillium cernuum L. 29 April 2012, Stroud Reseve, West Chester, Chester County, Pennsylvania.

Another fairly slow day for birds, however, I did get three new arrivals, Red-eyed Vireo, Wood Thrush, and American Redstart. The high pressure that we have sitting over our region needs to move on so our birds can come home. I also didn’t get to check things as thoroughly today as I would have liked as I had to rush off to a doctor’s appointment.

The up side to the nice weather is that the vegetation will be pretty full by the time things start to arrive in earnest. Trees like beech, maple and poplar are already pretty full. The oaks, hickories and ash still have a ways to go. I’m still adding many new plants to the preserve list and have quite a backlog of things to document. 

I have run into a small, no, actually a large disappointment so far with the plant inventory for the preserve. This time last year I found two specimens of the rare nodding trillium (Trillium cernuum). The day after the photograph above was taken the I went back to take a better picture of them but the plants had disappeared. I am assuming the cause of the disappearance was white-tailed deer foraging.

I was excited to find these plants here because there are only 30-60 probable sites for its occurrence in Pennsylvania and an estimated population of only 5000-5500 ramets (i.e., clonal colonies). I have put a great amount of effort in checking the creek drainage where these plants were found as well as other suitable habitats on the preserve and have come up empty. If the plants are still growing on the preserve I should have another month or so until they wither away and can no longer be found. So if the Pennsylvania birding community could keep your fingers crossed, I’d greatly appreciate it!

Start time: 9:00

End time: 12:20

Temp: 52-64°

Wind: 5-7 mph from the east

Skies: perfectly clear

Species Total:

  • Great Blue Heron – 1
  • Black Vulture – 2
  • Turkey Vulture – approximately 30
  • Canada Goose – approximately 10
  • Red-tailed Hawk – 2
  • Killdeer – 1, heard only
  • Mourning Dove – 4
  • Chimney Swift – approximately 30
  • Red-bellied Woodpecker – approximately 10
  • Downy Woodpecker – 4
  • Hairy Woodpecker – 2
  • Northern Flicker – 1
  • Eastern Phoebe – 3
  • White-eyed Vireo – approximately 15
  • Warbling Vireo – approximately 10
  • Red-eyed Vireo – 1, FOY
  • Blue Jay – approximately 20
  • American Crow – approximately 10
  • Fish Crow – 2, again on the west end of the preserve
  • Tree Swallow – approximately 30, numbers seem to be dropping for this species
  • Northern Rough-winged Swallow – approximately 10
  • Barn Swallow – approximately 30, numbers seem to be climbing for this species.
  • Carolina Chickadee – approximately 10
  • Tufted Titmouse – approximately 10
  • White-breasted Nuthatch – 3
  • Carolina Wren – 2
  • House Wren – 3
  • Blue-gray Gnatcatcher – approximately 15, either numbers have dropped or they are becoming less vocal
  • Eastern Bluebird – approximately 10
  • Wood Thrush – 1, FOY
  • American Robin – approximately 20
  • Gray Catbird – approximately 20, it is safe to say that the catbird factory is now in production!
  • Northern Mockingbird – 2
  • Brown Thrasher – 1
  • European Starling – approximately 10
  • Yellow Warbler – approximately 20
  • Palm Warbler – 1
  • American Redstart – 1, FOY
  • Common Yellowthroat – approximately 20
  • Eastern Towhee – approximately 25
  • Chipping Sparrow – approximately 10
  • Field Sparrow – approximately 10
  • Song Sparrow – approximately 30
  • White-throated Sparrow – approximately 10
  • Northern Cardinal – approximately 15
  • Bobolink – 1, heard only. I don’t know where the small group went that I saw earlier in the week has moved.
  • Red-winged Blackbird – approximately 75, there is still a large group of about 30 birds that forages in the old farm bed
  • Brown-headed Cowbird – approximately 20
  • House Finch – 2
  • American Goldfinch – approximately 40, numbers are way up for this species 

The Stroud Preserve, 1 May 2013

  Wild ginger  Asarun canadense  L.  1 May 2013, Stroud Preserve, West Chester, Chester County, Pennsylvania.

Wild ginger Asarun canadense L. 1 May 2013, Stroud Preserve, West Chester, Chester County, Pennsylvania.

Today I a nice May Day surprise and finally added a long over due Purple Martin to the preserve list. When I first started birding here one of the first things I noticed on the checklist for the preserve was that there were only three swallows listed, Barn, Tree, and Northern Rough-winged. Thinking back to when I lived in southeastern Pennsylvania back in the 1980s I didn’t recall that Bank, Cliff and Purple Martin were all that difficult to come across. When I adopted the preserve as my own little bird and plant project, I predicted that I would add these birds to the list without any trouble. It would just be a matter of looking at all the swallows carefully.

I’m happy to say that, as predicted, as of today, I have added the other three swallows to the preserve list, however, not as predicted, it was a lot of trouble! I have spent more time than I’d like to admit sorting through the large groups of swallows that occur here. I had given up hope of seeing them last season then very late in the fall I had a handful of Bank and Cliff Swallow pass over head. Today it was again pretty slow and I had given up on any new spring arrivals. Then literally the last bird I saw as I opened the door to my car was a large, dark swallow with a notched tail. It was not calling or vocalizing at all so I could have easily missed it. 

I was unable to check on the Eastern Meadowlark today as the bridge on creek road is being worked on and I didn’t have time to walk to the area. I also did not see any Bobolinks either. I walked all the way around the nesting area and didn’t see or hear any. For the third day in a row, there was a Solitary Sandpiper in the east end (the drainage end) of the old farm pond.

Start time: 8:45

End time: 1:10

Temp: 50-64°

Wind: 6-8 mph from the northeast

Skies: clear

Species Total: 53

  • Great Blue Heron – 1
  • Black Vulture – 5
  • Turkey Vulture – approximately 20
  • Canada Goose – 2
  • Wood Duck – 2
  • Mallard – 2
  • Bald Eagle – 1, immature
  • Sharp-shinned Hawk – 1 adult
  • Cooper's Hawk – 1 adult
  • Red-tailed Hawk – 3 adults
  • Solitary Sandpiper – 1
  • Mourning Dove – 4
  • Chimney Swift – approximately 30
  • Belted Kingfisher – 1
  • Red-bellied Woodpecker – approximately 10
  • Downy Woodpecker – 3
  • Northern Flicker – 2
  • Eastern Phoebe – 3
  • White-eyed Vireo – approximately 10
  • Warbling Vireo – approximately 10
  • Blue Jay – approximately 15
  • American Crow – approximately 8
  • Fish Crow – 1
  • Purple Martin – 1, adult male FOY, first for the preserve.
  • Tree Swallow – approximately 50
  • Northern Rough-winged Swallow – approximately 30
  • Barn Swallow – approximately 25
  • Carolina Chickadee – approximately 10
  • Tufted Titmouse – approximately 15
  • White-breasted Nuthatch – 1
  • Carolina Wren – 3
  • House Wren – 2
  • Blue-gray Gnatcatcher – approximately 25
  • Eastern Bluebird – approximately 10
  • American Robin – approximately 25
  • Gray Catbird – approximately 15
  • Northern Mockingbird – 2
  • Brown Thrasher – 1
  • European Starling – approximately 10
  • Blue-winged Warbler – 1
  • Yellow Warbler – approximately 10
  • Common Yellowthroat – approximately 15
  • Eastern Towhee – approximately 20
  • Chipping Sparrow – 1
  • Field Sparrow – approximately 10
  • Savannah Sparrow – 1
  • Song Sparrow – approximately 30
  • Swamp Sparrow – 1, becoming hard to find
  • White-throated Sparrow – approximately 15
  • Northern Cardinal – approximately 20
  • Red-winged Blackbird – approximately 50
  • Brown-headed Cowbird – approximately 10
  • American Goldfinch – approximately 20

The Stroud Preserve, 30 April 2013

  Jack-in-the-pulpit  Arisaema dracontium  (L.) Schott  30 April 2013, Stroud Preserve, West Chester, Chester County, Pennsylvania. 

Jack-in-the-pulpit Arisaema dracontium (L.) Schott 30 April 2013, Stroud Preserve, West Chester, Chester County, Pennsylvania. 

Today’s walk yielded no new year-birds and my species count was lower than yesterday’s, however, it was not raining and that is a winner in my books! With the exception of swallows and swifts chattering overhead, it was largely silent. I heard a Eastern Meadowlark on the west side of the preserve, but I think it is more likely a transient.

Plants are blooming at an exponential rate. I think I have over two hundred species on the plant list so far which includes very few trees. Rushes, sedges and grasses are starting to bloom so I am spending much more time in the evening with my microscope trying to figure those things out. They ain’t easy! Pictured above is an easy one.

Start time: 9:00

End time: 12:30

Temp: 52-63°

Wind: 10-12 mph from the east

Skies: clear

Species Total: 54

  • Great Blue Heron – 1
  • Black Vulture – 2
  • Turkey Vulture – approximately 10
  • Canada Goose – 4
  • Wood Duck – 2
  • Mallard – 4
  • Cooper's Hawk – 1
  • Red-tailed Hawk – 3
  • Solitary Sandpiper – 1, in the old farm bed.
  • Mourning Dove – 2
  • Chimney Swift – approximately 25
  • Red-bellied Woodpecker – approximately 5
  • Downy Woodpecker – 3
  • Northern Flicker – 2
  • Pileated Woodpecker – 1, heard only
  • Eastern Phoebe – 3
  • Eastern Kingbird – 1
  • White-eyed Vireo – approximately 10
  • Warbling Vireo – approximately 10
  • Blue Jay – approximately 20
  • American Crow – approximately 10
  • Fish Crow – 3, more often than not, I am hearing these on the west side of the preserve
  • Tree Swallow – approximately 150
  • Northern Rough-winged Swallow – approximately 50
  • Barn Swallow – approximately 25
  • Carolina Chickadee – 5
  • Tufted Titmouse – approximately 10
  • White-breasted Nuthatch – 3
  • Carolina Wren – approximately 10
  • House Wren – 2
  • Blue-gray Gnatcatcher – approximately 25
  • Eastern Bluebird – approximately 10
  • American Robin – approximately 10
  • Gray Catbird – approximately 10
  • Northern Mockingbird – 1
  • Brown Thrasher – 2
  • European Starling – approximately 30
  • Blue-winged Warbler – 1
  • Yellow Warbler – approximately 8
  • Yellow-rumped Warbler – 1
  • Black-and-white Warbler – 1, heard only
  • Eastern Towhee – approximately 10
  • Chipping Sparrow – 1
  • Field Sparrow – approximately 10
  • Savannah Sparrow – 1
  • Song Sparrow – approximately 25
  • White-throated Sparrow – approximately 10
  • Bobolink – at least 2, heard only
  • Red-winged Blackbird – approximately 30
  • Eastern Meadowlark – 2, 1 calling from field on west side of preserve, 1 calling from usual spot on Creek and Strasburg Roads.
  • Common Grackle – 1
  • Brown-headed Cowbird – approximately 10
  • House Finch – 2
  • American Goldfinch – approximately 15

The Stroud Preserve, 29 April 2013

  Rue Anemone  Thalictrum thalictroides  (L.) A.J.Eames & B.Boivin  29 April 2013, Stroud Preserve, Chester County, Pennsylvania. 

Rue Anemone Thalictrum thalictroides (L.) A.J.Eames & B.Boivin 29 April 2013, Stroud Preserve, Chester County, Pennsylvania. 

When I got up this morning it was raining. I looked at the hourly forecast and looked as if the rain might disappear until the afternoon. So, I took my chances and headed out the door. As it turns out, my chances were not good and it rained constantly the entire time I was out. But, at least I got out.

I decided it would be a good day to visit the Susan Groome Harney part of the preserve to see what kind of plants might be found there. It is on the very north end disjunct from the rest of the preserve. As it turns out the plant community, at least the understory, is quite different from what I have seen in other parts of the preserve. A few weeks ago I mentioned that I had only found species of mustard, Cardamine concaternata, in only a few small places. This area was covered with it. In all, I found over ten new species of flowering plants that I have not recorded before. I suspect that the soil type might be a little different there. It will be interesting to see what else pops up over the summer.

I spent most of my morning looking for plants but I did venture back to the main part of the preserve to go see if the Bobolinks were back. I spent about 45 minutes walking at a brisk pace through the rain and found the Bobolinks were indeed back. I also saw my first of year Blue-winged Warbler, Gray Catbird and Solitary Sandpiper. I also saw my first fledglings of the year as a pair of Canada Geese were leading around 6 downy chicks. It was also my first confirmation of them breeding on the preserve. What was most surprising was that in my brisk walk through the constant rain, I tallied my highest daily species count for the year at 58! I’m still looking for that breakthrough spring day were birds are everywhere!

Start time: 8:55

End time: 11:40

Temp: 54°

Wind: 5-9 mph from the southwest

Skies: light rain

Species Total: 53

  • Great Blue Heron – 1
  • Canada Goose – 8, one pair with 6 downy chicks
  • Wood Duck – 2
  • Mallard – 3
  • Red-tailed Hawk – 1
  • Solitary Sandpiper – 1, FOY, flushed from the bed of the old farm pond
  • Mourning Dove – 3
  • Chimney Swift – approximately 40
  • Belted Kingfisher – 1
  • Red-bellied Woodpecker – 2
  • Downy Woodpecker – 2
  • Northern Flicker – 3
  • Eastern Phoebe – 3
  • Eastern Kingbird – 1
  • White-eyed Vireo – 5
  • Blue-headed Vireo – 1, heard only
  • Warbling Vireo – approximately 5
  • Blue Jay – approximately 10
  • American Crow – 2
  • Fish Crow – 1
  • Tree Swallow – approximately 100
  • Northern Rough-winged Swallow – approximately 30
  • Barn Swallow – approximately 30
  • Carolina Chickadee – approximately 10
  • Tufted Titmouse – approximately 10
  • White-breasted Nuthatch – 1
  • Carolina Wren – 3
  • House Wren – 1
  • Blue-gray Gnatcatcher – approximately 15
  • Eastern Bluebird – approximately 10
  • American Robin – approximately 10, two nests observed with female incubating.
  • Gray Catbird – 1, FOY
  • Northern Mockingbird – 1
  • Brown Thrasher – 1
  • European Starling – 5
  • Cedar Waxwing – approximately 25, one flock overhead, first observation since 14 January 2013.
  • Blue-winged Warbler – 1, FOY, right where Kelly said it was.
  • Yellow Warbler – approximately 10
  • Yellow-rumped Warbler – 1
  • Black-and-white Warbler – 1
  • Common Yellowthroat – 3
  • Eastern Towhee – approximately 10
  • Chipping Sparrow – 1
  • Field Sparrow – approximately 5
  • Savannah Sparrow – 2
  • Song Sparrow – approximately 15
  • Swamp Sparrow – 1
  • White-throated Sparrow – approximately 5, heard only
  • Northern Cardinal – approximately 10
  • Bobolink – 8, FOY
  • Red-winged Blackbird – approximately 30
  • Eastern Meadowlark – 1, heard only from the corner of Creek and Strasburg Road
  • Common Grackle – 1
  • Brown-headed Cowbird – 6
  • Orchard Oriole – 1
  • House Finch – 2
  • American Goldfinch – approximately 15

The Stroud Preserve, 28 April 2013

IMG_3783.jpg

I normally don’t visit the preserve in the weekends but my son William loves water critters and wanted to go wade around the Brandywine. I figured it was just warm enough not to get hypothermia incase he fell in, so off we went.

We went down stream where it was more wooded. I let William have at it and I kept an eye out for birds and plants. I did pick up two new first of the year birds, Eastern Kingbird and Black-and-white Warbler. Again, the most common bird in the trees was Blue-gray Gnatcatcher of which I found two more nearly completed nests. I also found a couple of pairs of Rough-winged Swallow with burrows in a cut bank of the creek. Most exciting was a borrow of a Belted Kingfisher. This was just barely within the preserve boundary. I was glad to add that to my list of nesting birds.

I still looked very hard for Louisiana Waterthrush and Prothonotary Warbler. This area should be ideal habitat for these species. This habitat would also be good for Hooded and Worm-eating Warblers, which are also absent from the preserve list. I’ll continue to check the area over the coming months. Hopefully, one of the four species will make an appearance. The only new plant that I came across was a species of pondweed called curly pondweed (Potamogeton crispus) which native to Europe. I only saw a three or four plants along the half mile or so of stream bed that we walked along. So it wasn’t that common.

William had a great time. And as I predicted, he fell in the water up to his neck when he tried to walk across a log that broke in half when he was completely over the water, and as I predicted, he did not go hypothermic. He did find a baby snapping turtle. They sure are cute when they are the size of a silver dollar. I told William to make nice with it now because the next time he comes across it he may not have such a pleasant disposition!

Check out photos of our walk in the mud here.

Start time: 11:30

End time: 1:300

Temp: 63-68°

Wind: 5-7 mph from the south

Skies: clear

Species Total: 39

  • Black Vulture – 4
  • Turkey Vulture – approximately 10
  • Canada Goose – 2
  • Mallard – 2
  • Red-tailed Hawk – 1
  • Mourning Dove – 4
  • Chimney Swift – approximately 20
  • Belted Kingfisher - nest in creek bank
  • Red-bellied Woodpecker – 3
  • Downy Woodpecker – 2
  • Northern Flicker – 1
  • Eastern Phoebe – 4
  • Eastern Kingbird –2, FOY
  • Warbling Vireo – 2
  • Blue Jay – approximately 10
  • American Crow – 2
  • Tree Swallow – approximately 50
  • Northern Rough-winged Swallow – approximately 20, nesting in burrows in the creek bank. 
  • Barn Swallow – approximately 10
  • Carolina Chickadee – approximately 10
  • Tufted Titmouse – approximately 10
  • White-breasted Nuthatch – 2
  • Carolina Wren – approximately 5
  • House Wren – 1
  • Blue-gray Gnatcatcher – approximately 15
  • Eastern Bluebird – approximately 5
  • American Robin – approximately 10
  • European Starling – approximately 20
  • Yellow Warbler – approximately 10
  • Yellow-rumped Warbler – 1
  • Black-and-white Warbler – 2, FOY
  • Common Yellowthroat – approximately 10
  • Eastern Towhee – 3
  • Song Sparrow – approximately 10
  • Northern Cardinal – approximately 10
  • Red-winged Blackbird – approximately 25
  • Common Grackle – 2
  • Brown-headed Cowbird – approximately 10
  • American Goldfinch – approximately 20

The Stroud Preserve, 26 April 2013

IMG_3743.jpg

Accompanying me on my walk today was Susan Charkes. We had high hopes for more spring birds but our hopes didn’t produce anything new. As we were lamenting about the lack of birds we ran into Kelly Nunn, who was not lamenting about the lack of birds. She had quite a list of birds that we had not seen including Blue-winged Warbler, Baltimore Oriole and Orchard Oriole. Kelly did start about an hour earlier than we did but I still can’t help but think that I did something to offend the spring warbler. I seem to be little behind what is generally being reported.

The birds never did really pick up for us, but fortunately, springtime has other things to offer. While the photo above could reflect my grumpy disposition about the state of migration, it is actually a snapping turtle that I see frequently hauled out on a stream bank on the northwest side of the old farm pond. It usually on the side that is to squishy for me to walk on but today, it was on the opposite side, where I could take a nice portrait of it.

Susan and I worked our way around to the serpentine outcrop to look at the interesting plants in bloom there. Lyre-leaved rockcress (Arabis lyrata), large field mouse-eared chickweed (Cerastium velutinum var. velutinum),  and early saxifrage (Saxifraga virginiensis) are still the only native flowering plants that we could find. I was hoping that some of the grasses would have grown enough for me to identify yet. I did turn my attention to the little yellow violets that grow commonly around the preserve. I have concluded that violets are just plain evil.

Yes, evil. In plant identification circles, you often hear people talking about how difficult things like grasses, sedges and willows are to identify. Well, I think violets are worse. With the others they are difficult, but the taxonomy is pretty much agreed upon by the plant taxonomy gods above. Violets are surprisingly difficult and there is very little agreement on their taxonomy. I have a number of flora text available to me both printed and on the internet. None of them employ the same taxonomy for Violaceae. An this little yellow violet is a poster child that illustrates the problem.

Originally, I identified it as Viola hastata, which I recently realized is clearly incorrect. V. hastata simply does not occur in eastern Pennsylvania. But each time I tried to key it using Rhoads and Block I keep coming out to V. hastata. Looking at my general field guides to plants the one that seems to be the best fit is V. pensylvanica. Turning to another flora, Weakley’s Flora of Southern and Mid Atlantic States, it easily keyed out to V. pensylvanica. But this species is not listed at all in Rhoads and Block. Humm…

After several hours of trying to reconcile the differences I finally figured it all out. The little yellow violet that I see at the Stroud Preserve is Viola pubescens var. scabriuscula in Rhoads and Block. The key stresses the features of V. pubescens var. pubescens, which is where I went wrong. In Weakley, the little yellow violet is indeed V. pensyvanica. Both Rhoads and Block and Weakley give V. eriocarpon as a synonym. So, the common bond between the two authorities that I use is V. eriocarpon.

 It seems so innocent. 

It seems so innocent. 

Make sense? To give you and ideal of just how bad it can be, here is Weakley’s full synonym text;

[= WV; = Viola pubescens Aiton var. scabriuscula Schweinitz ex Torrey – K, V, X; = V. eriocarpa (Nuttall) Schweinitz var. leiocarpa Fernald & Wiegand – RAB; < V. pubescens – C, GW, W; > V. pensylvanica Michaux var. pensylvanica – F; > V. pensylvanica var. leiocarpa (Fernald & Wiegand) Fernald – F; = V. eriocarpa – G, S; = V. eriocarpon (Nuttall)Schweinitz var. leiocarpon Fernald & Wiegand; > V. pubescens Aiton var. leiocarpon (Fernald & Wiegand) Seymour]

And birders think flycatchers are difficult. Please.

Start time: 8:50

End time: 1:00

Temp: 52-57°

Wind: 10 from the south

Skies: clear

Species Total: 53

  • Great Blue Heron – 1
  • Black Vulture – approximately 10
  • Turkey Vulture – approximately 20
  • Canada Goose – approximately 10
  • Mallard – 2
  • Northern Harrier – 1, immature or female
  • Sharp-shinned Hawk – 3, 2 immature, 1 adult
  • Cooper's Hawk – 1 adult
  • Red-tailed Hawk – 4
  • Mourning Dove – 4
  • Chimney Swift – approximately 100
  • Red-bellied Woodpecker – approximately 10
  • Downy Woodpecker – 4
  • Northern Flicker – 2
  • Eastern Phoebe – 4
  • White-eyed Vireo – 3, heard only
  • Warbling Vireo – 4
  • Blue Jay – approximately 40, mostly moving from west to east
  • American Crow – approximately 10
  • Fish Crow – 2, heard only
  • Tree Swallow – approximately 150
  • Northern Rough-winged Swallow – approximately 30, collecting nesting material
  • Barn Swallow – approximately 20, many collecting nesting material from muddy area in bed of old farm pond.
  • Carolina Chickadee – approximately 10
  • Tufted Titmouse – approximately 10
  • White-breasted Nuthatch – approximately 5
  • Carolina Wren – approximately 10
  • House Wren – 2
  • Ruby-crowned Kinglet – 1
  • Blue-gray Gnatcatcher – approximately 25
  • Eastern Bluebird – approximately 20
  • American Robin – approximately 30
  • Northern Mockingbird – 1
  • Brown Thrasher – 1
  • European Starling – approximately 15
  • Yellow Warbler – approximately 10
  • Yellow-rumped Warbler – approximately 10
  • Palm Warbler – 4
  • Common Yellowthroat – approximately 10
  • Eastern Towhee – approximately 20
  • Chipping Sparrow – 1
  • Field Sparrow – approximately 10
  • Savannah Sparrow – 6, one was a distinctively different from the other Savannah Sparrows that I have seen at the preserve. This one seemed larger, and overall much deeper brown. The streaking on the beast was very well defined and the supercillium was very bold and a creamy yellow from front to back.
  • Song Sparrow – approximately 20
  • Swamp Sparrow – 1
  • White-throated Sparrow – approximately 10
  • Northern Cardinal – approximately 10
  • Red-winged Blackbird – approximately 50
  • Eastern Meadowlark – at least 2, the singing male at the corner of Creek and Strasburg Road still present. It can often be seen singing from the telephone wire just to the west of the intersection.
  • Common Grackle – 3
  • Brown-headed Cowbird – approximately 15
  • House Finch – 2, heard only
  • American Goldfinch – approximately 

The Stroud Preserve, 25 April 2013

The day started out with a first of year Warbling Vireo singing in the big box elder by the bridge over the Brandywine. Shortly after that a Orchard Oriole flew into the downed tree just beyond the bridge. And that was the end of the bird excitement for day. After that it was pretty slow. Swallow numbers were way up with hundreds flying over the fields near the Brandywine. The composition was roughly 70% Tree, 20% Northern Rough-winged, and 10% Barn. I usually spend a fair amount of time scanning big groups of swallows like this looking for Cliff and Bank Swallows, but I always come up empty handed.

Blue-gray Gnatcatchers still seem to be dominating the small tree dwelling birds. They seem to be everywhere. For the most part, however, the woods were very quiet today. I checked the wetland (above photo) where I saw the Rusty Blackbird yesterday and other than 3 male Wood Ducks it was birdless. The wetlands and the wooded drainages in the preserve have some impressive native plant communities. It is a good place to spend your day when the birds are not moving!

Start time: 9:15

End time: 1:00

Temp: 42-55

Wind: 15 mph from the northwest

Skies: clear

Species Total: 53

  • Great Blue Heron – 1
  • Black Vulture – approximately 10
  • Turkey Vulture – approximately 25
  • Canada Goose – approximately 10
  • Wood Duck – 6
  • Mallard – 2
  • Bald Eagle – 1 adult
  • Cooper's Hawk – 1 adult
  • Red-tailed Hawk – 4 adults
  • Rock Dove – 2, a fairly uncommon bird in the preserve. The last ones that I observed were way back on 12 February!
  • Mourning Dove – 4
  • Chimney Swift – approximately 100
  • Belted Kingfisher – 1, heard only
  • Red-bellied Woodpecker – approximately 10
  • Downy Woodpecker – 3
  • Hairy Woodpecker – 2
  • Northern Flicker – approximately 10
  • Eastern Phoebe – 2
  • Warbling Vireo – 1, FOY
  • Blue Jay – approximately 40, small groups mostly flying due east.
  • American Crow – approximately 10
  • Tree Swallow – approximately 500
  • Northern Rough-winged Swallow – approximately 100
  • Barn Swallow – approximately 50
  • Carolina Chickadee – approximately 10
  • Tufted Titmouse – 4
  • White-breasted Nuthatch – 5
  • Carolina Wren – 5
  • House Wren – 1
  • Ruby-crowned Kinglet – 2, heard only
  • Blue-gray Gnatcatcher – approximately 30
  • Eastern Bluebird – approximately 20
  • American Robin – approximately 40
  • Northern Mockingbird – 1
  • Brown Thrasher – 1
  • European Starling – approximately 10
  • Yellow Warbler – approximately 10
  • Common Yellowthroat – approximately 20
  • Eastern Towhee – approximately 20
  • Chipping Sparrow – 3
  • Field Sparrow – approximately 12
  • Savannah Sparrow – 9
  • Song Sparrow – approximately 25
  • Swamp Sparrow – 2
  • White-throated Sparrow – approximately 25
  • Dark-eyed Junco – 1
  • Northern Cardinal – approximately 10
  • Red-winged Blackbird – approximately 50
  • Eastern Meadowlark – 1, singing at the corner of Creek and Strasberg Road
  • Common Grackle – 4
  • Brown-headed Cowbird – approximately 15
  • Orchard Oriole – 1, FOY
  • House Finch – 6
  • American Goldfinch – approximately 35

The Stroud Preserve, 24 April 2013

Golden saxifrage Chrysosplenium Schwein ex Hook. 24 April 2013, Stroud Preserve, West Chester, Chester County, Pennsylvania. 

I spent the lion’s share of the day looking for wetland plants. The photo above is part of my reward for that. Golden Saxifrage (Chrysosplenium americanum). This is a new plant for me. It has one of the strangest flowers I have ever seen. I wish my dissecting scope had a photo attachment so I could post a close up photo but instead, here is a link to a webpage with one. I found a handful of these plants along one of the streams that flow through the preserve.

Another benefit to checking wetlands for rare and unusual plants is that you stand a better chance of seeing birds that like these places. I flushed a male Rusty Blackbird from the edge of a oxbow along the Brandywine. It flew up to a nearby tree for a few moments then flew back down to the waters edge. I had the pleasure of watching it forage at close range for about 20 minutes. What a treat!

I saw two new spring arrivals today. A Green Heron flew over the old farm pond and a Blue-headed Vireo was working its way along the foliage by the Brandywine. I observed American Robins and Eastern Phoebe collecting nesting materials. Perhaps the biggest surprise for the day was a finding a nearly completed Blue-gray Gnatcatcher’s nest! Those guys work fast. It has only been 13 days since I saw my first one for the spring.

Start time: 8:45

End time: 12:00

Temp: 42-55°

Wind: 3-8 mph from the south

Skies: overcast, clearing by noon

Species Total: 53

  • Green Heron – 1, FOY
  • Black Vulture – approximately 10
  • Turkey Vulture – approximately 15
  • Canada Goose – 13
  • Wood Duck – 5
  • Mallard – 2
  • Red-tailed Hawk – 3, adults
  • Mourning Dove – 1
  • Belted Kingfisher – 1, heard only
  • Red-bellied Woodpecker – approximately 10
  • Downy Woodpecker – approximately 10
  • Northern Flicker – approximately 12
  • Eastern Phoebe – 3
  • Blue-headed Vireo – 1, FOY
  • Blue Jay – approximately 15
  • American Crow – 4
  • Fish Crow – 2, heard only
  • Tree Swallow – approximately 75
  • Northern Rough-winged Swallow – approximately 25
  • Barn Swallow – approximately 10
  • Carolina Chickadee – approximately 12
  • Tufted Titmouse – approximately 8
  • White-breasted Nuthatch – 4
  • Carolina Wren – approximately 10
  • House Wren – 1
  • Ruby-crowned Kinglet – 3
  • Blue-gray Gnatcatcher – approximately 25. I observed a male and female attacking an American Robin that perched to close to their nearly completed nest! I observed the first gnatcatcher just 13 days ago on 11 April. They apparently are not wasting any time.
  • Eastern Bluebird – approximately 15
  • American Robin – approximately 20
  • Northern Mockingbird – 2
  • Brown Thrasher – 1, heard only
  • European Starling – approximately 10
  • Yellow Warbler – approximately 12
  • Yellow-rumped Warbler – approximately 20
  • Palm Warbler – approximately 8
  • Common Yellowthroat – approximately 15
  • Eastern Towhee – approximately 25
  • Chipping Sparrow – 1
  • Field Sparrow – approximately 20
  • Savannah Sparrow – 9
  • Song Sparrow – approximately 20
  • Swamp Sparrow – 2
  • White-throated Sparrow – approximately 40
  • Dark-eyed Junco – 3
  • Northern Cardinal – approximately 10
  • Red-winged Blackbird – approximately 50
  • Eastern Meadowlark – 1, singing at the corner of Creek and Strasberg Road.
  • Rusty Blackbird – 1, male. I flushed it from a wooded wet land while looking for aquatic plants. It returned to the ground where I had the pleasure of watching it forage at close range for about 20 minutes.
  • Common Grackle – 4
  • Brown-headed Cowbird – approximately 12
  • House Finch – 2, heard only
  • American Goldfinch – approximately 20

The Stroud Preserve, 23 April 2013

Large field mouse-ear chickweed Cerastium velutium var. velutinum Raf. 23 April 2013, Stroud Preserve, West Chester, Chester County, Pennsylvania. 

With all the reports of various and sundry spring migrants from our area from the PABirds listserver, I headed out today with high hopes of seeing some newly arrived spring warblers. Instead, all the highlights of the day seem to be birds of a more wintery nature.

The biggest surprise of the day was a single flyover Red Crossbill! A few days ago I was thinking about making a post to this blog about my disappointment in not seeing any of the good winter finches that had invaded the Delaware Valley. Crossbills, Redpolls, and Grosbeaks seemed to be everywhere, except the Stroud Preserve. At about noon today, as I had my nose pointed up searching for movement I in the trees that could turn in to a bright spring warbler, I heard a familiar “kip-kip-kip-kip!” In my experience whenever I hear their call in flight, I only actually see the bird in flight one out of ten times. So, I frantically searched the skies overhead and saw the bird flying due east. It didn’t land of course and kept on going until it was well out of sight.

Earlier In the day I had an absolutely awesome look at a Merlin perched in the big sycamore tree in front of the old barn. Most of the Merlins that I see are flyovers. This one let me walk directly under it and check it out from all angles. The other winter surprise was a Winter Wren. I thought these were all gone as the last one that I saw was way back on March 21st.

Otherwise, there were no new spring migrants. All in all, it was a pretty slow day for mid April. It was pretty chilly as well! There were good numbers of Yellow-rumped Warblers along the Brandywine with a few Palm Warblers mixed in. White-throated Sparrows were still congregated around the serpentine outcrop.

Lyre-leaved rockcress Arabis lytata L. 23 April 2013, Stroud Preserve, West Chester, Chester County, Pennsylvania. 

Early saxifrage Saxifraga virginiensis Michx. 23 April 2013, Stroud Preserve, West Chester, Chester County, Pennsylvania. 

The serpentine outcrop had a few blooming specialties. Lyre-leaved rockcress (Arabis lyrata), large field mouse-eared chickweed (Cerastium velutinum var. velutinum),  and early saxifrage (Saxifraga virginiensis). I have found these three species only on the serpentine outcrop and no where else on the preserve.

Start time: 9:05

End time: 1:25

Temp: 42-52°

Wind: 0-10 from the east

Skies: overcast

Species Total: 53

  • Black Vulture – approximately 15
  • Turkey Vulture – approximately 20
  • Canada Goose – 4
  • Wood Duck – 2
  • Mallard – 1
  • Red-tailed Hawk – 3 adults
  • Merlin – 1, FOY, only the second time that I have seen one perched in the preserve, as most are flyovers.
  • Mourning Dove – 5
  • [Barred Owl – The preserve manager said that he has seen Barred Owl within the last week]
  • Chimney Swift – approximately 20
  • Red-bellied Woodpecker – approximately 10
  • Downy Woodpecker – approximately 10
  • Northern Flicker – 4
  • Pileated Woodpecker – 2, heard only
  • Eastern Phoebe – 4
  • Blue Jay – approximately 25
  • American Crow – approximately 10
  • Fish Crow – 2
  • Tree Swallow – approximately 150
  • Northern Rough-winged Swallow – approximately 30
  • Barn Swallow – approximately 15
  • Carolina Chickadee – approximately 10
  • Tufted Titmouse – approximately 15
  • White-breasted Nuthatch – 4
  • Carolina Wren – approximately 10
  • House Wren – 2
  • Winter Wren – 1, I thought I was done with these little guys!
  • Golden-crowned Kinglet – 3, heard only
  • Ruby-crowned Kinglet – approximately 15
  • Blue-gray Gnatcatcher – approximately 30, these seemed to be calling from every group of trees I encountered today.
  • Eastern Bluebird – approximately 10
  • American Robin – approximately 30
  • Northern Mockingbird – 1
  • Brown Thrasher – 2
  • European Starling – approximately 10
  • Yellow Warbler – 3
  • Yellow-rumped Warbler – approximately 40, only along the Brandywine.
  • Palm Warbler – 5, only along the Brandywine.
  • Common Yellowthroat – approximately 10
  • Eastern Towhee – approximately 15
  • Chipping Sparrow – approximately 10
  • Field Sparrow – approximately 25
  • Savannah Sparrow – 7
  • Song Sparrow – approximately 25
  • Swamp Sparrow – 1
  • White-throated Sparrow – approximately 75, as with my last visit, many were found in the area of the Serpentine outcrop.
  • Dark-eyed Junco – 3
  • Northern Cardinal – approximately 15
  • Red-winged Blackbird – approximately
  • Eastern Meadowlark – 3, two calling in the area of the Bobolink field. 1 calling near the intersection of Creek and Strasberg Roads. The one along creek road seems to be the only one singing in a sustained way as if defending a territory.
  • Common Grackle – 4
  • Brown-headed Cowbird – approximately 25
  • House Finch – 3
  • Red Crossbill – 1, Bird of the Day! A new bird for the preserve list. A complete and total surprise!
  • American Goldfinch – approximately 25

The Stroud Preserve, 16 April 2013

  Toothwort  Cardamine concatenata  (Michx.) Sw ., 16 April 2013, Stroud Preserve, West Chester, Chester County, Pennsylvania.&nbsp;

Toothwort Cardamine concatenata (Michx.) Sw., 16 April 2013, Stroud Preserve, West Chester, Chester County, Pennsylvania. 

I am finding that I am covering much less ground in the last couple of visits because I do a lot of standing and listening. The landscape is alive with new sounds. Currently, my favorite sounds are the call of Blue-gray Gnatcatchers and singing Ruby-crowned Kinglets. I did manage to see a new-year bird for the preserve, a Hermit Thrush, which I was somewhat expecting. I have still be searching the wetlands pretty hard for Louisiana Waterthrushes, but with no luck.

Another thing that slows me down are plants. Above is a photo of Cardamine concatenata. This plant goes by a number of common names; toothwort, cutleaf toothwort, crow’s toes (I like that one), and pepper root. The name “toothwort,” probably refers to “tooth like structures on the rhizomes.” Since I was able to confidently identify the plant without collecting a sample, I do not know what these “tooth-like structures” look like. “Pepper root” refers to the fact that it root is edible and is somewhat spicy. “Crow’s toes” should be self-explanatory.

This is native and considered common in eastern North American, ranging from southeastern Canada to Florida and Texas. At the Stroud Preserve, I only know if it from one tiny spot on a hillside above the Brandywine where there are only about seven plants visible. It is an early bloomer along with spring-beauty (Claytonia virginica) which vastly outnumbers it. They are about the same size so I could easily be over looking others that may be around.

A close cousin is hairy bittercress (Cardamine hirsute). It is not native and is absolutely everywhere. It is most likely the tiny white flowering plant that you see growing between the cracks of the sidewalk as well. I have spent a good amount of time looking for another close cousin, Pennsylvania bittercress (Cardamine pensylvanica) which is supposed to be common and widespread in our area, but I have yet to see it. It might not be blooming yet, but I’ll keep looking!

Start time: 8:50

End time: 11:30

Temp: 51-61°

Wind: 5-8 mph from the south

Skies: high clouds, mostly overcast

Species Total: 50

  • Black Vulture – 3
  • Turkey Vulture – approximately 15
  • Canada Goose – 4
  • Wood Duck – 2
  • Mallard – 2
  • Osprey – 1
  • Red-tailed Hawk – 1 adult
  • Mourning Dove – 1
  • Chimney Swift – approximately 10
  • Belted Kingfisher – 2
  • Red-bellied Woodpecker – approximately 5
  • Downy Woodpecker – approximately 5
  • Northern Flicker – approximately 8, heard only.
  • Eastern Phoebe – 3
  • Blue Jay – approximately 10
  • American Crow – 4
  • Fish Crow – 2
  • Tree Swallow – approximately 100
  • Northern Rough-winged Swallow – approximately 10
  • Barn Swallow – approximately 20
  • Carolina Chickadee – approximately 10
  • Tufted Titmouse – approximately 10
  • White-breasted Nuthatch – 6
  • Carolina Wren – 4
  • House Wren – 1
  • Golden-crowned Kinglet – 3
  • Ruby-crowned Kinglet – approximately 12
  • Blue-gray Gnatcatcher – 7
  • Eastern Bluebird – approximately 15
  • Hermit Thrush – 1, FOY
  • American Robin – approximately 15
  • Northern Mockingbird – 2
  • Brown Thrasher – 2
  • European Starling – approximately 20
  • Yellow-rumped Warbler – approximately 15, only observed along the Brandywine
  • Palm Warbler – approximately 25, only observed along the Brandywine
  • Eastern Towhee – approximately 10
  • Chipping Sparrow – 1
  • Field Sparrow – approximately 10, many singing along the field edges
  • Savannah Sparrow – approximately 15, many seen along the road west of the bridge
  • Song Sparrow – approximately 25
  • Swamp Sparrow – approximately 10, near wooded wetlands or along the Brandywine
  • White-throated Sparrow – approximately 20, many singing in woodland understory
  • Dark-eyed Junco – approximately 10
  • Northern Cardinal – approximately 15
  • Red-winged Blackbird – approximately 150, a large flock (approximately  100) of mostly females in bed of the old farm pond.
  • Common Grackle – 1
  • Brown-headed Cowbird – approximately 15
  • House Finch – 2
  • American Goldfinch – approximately 10