Thursday, May 19, 2011

Valle Crucis Community Park - 18 May 2011

My next stop this morning was nearby Valle Crucis Community Park. This was an area that is known for finding up to seven species of flycatcher: Willow, Least, Acadian, Great-crested, Eastern Phoebe, Eastern Wood-Pewee, and Eastern Kingbird. I'd only see Willow and Least Flycatchers...

Its a small park, but with a paved footpath that winds along a trout stream there is plenty of habitat to attract local birds. An Eastern Bluebird trail brought several pairs of nesting birds. My first views of bluebirds this morning would be near a willow grove, where they were actively chasing away a Pileated Woodpecker that was foraging too close to their nest cavity. I was too slow to get the woodpecker, so I had to settle for the pretty blue male bluebird.

Overhead a Least Flycatcher was calling, but it was severely backlit by the white skies. I did my best to get a digiscoped image from below. Willow Flycatchers were calling farther off in the distance. As I looked for them I could hear a lone Baltimore Oriole whistling away high up in the trees lining the stream.

Chipping Sparrows were common here. Pairs of birds were actively foraging in the grass and feeding young. I followed this bird into a thicket where its mate was awaiting a meal.

A Northern Flicker was also feeding in the grass, but flew off before I could get my scope set up. Continuing around the path I stopped to digiscope another bluebird from 50' away (left).

As I was driving out I spotted a wet patch of grass that was hosting a pair of Solitary Sandpipers. I stopped the car and grabbed a few pics through the window. Hoping to digiscope them, however, just caused them to flush as I removed the scope. They returned the moment I got back into the car.

So I tried again, this time causing one bird to fly across the grass and land on a far rail.

So I settled on photographing several pairs of Barn Swallows that were flying low over the heavy grass and pond water, catching insects that were invisible to my eyes.

It was a good opportunity to document both male and female Barn Swallow, as a pair were sitting on the rope fencing just a few feet away. I digiscoped this male with his buffy-red chest.

This female, sitting next to the male, has a much whiter chest.

A pair of Tree Swallows were with them and landed on nearby railing that were just feet from the car.

As I was leaving I could hear the insect-call of a Blackpoll Warbler overhead, but couldn't locate the bird.

I returned to the cabin, and as I processed images, I watched a Brown Thrasher feeding in the grass outside the window. Moments later an Eastern Phoebe made an appearance. In the distance Chestnut-sided Warblers, Eastern Bluebirds, American Crow, and Rufous-sided Towhees were actively singing in the afternoon lull.

No comments:

Blog Archive