Monday, April 20, 2009

The Trickle Continues

Most of Spencer Crest Nature Center's property is wooded, but it's that time of year where sunscreen would have been appropriate for a walk in those woods. It got warm quick, enough so I had stripped down to short-sleeves for most of my walk. That may sound quaint to more-southerly readers but around here it's a "first of the year."

That said, back to my point. In my previous post I mentioned woodpeckers were hammering on nearly every tree, the most numerous was the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker. I readily and happily admit they are my favorite woodpecker - the one I'm most confident in identifying by their unique drumming pattern. They have that slow, uncertain tapping that peters out at the end, exactly like they've run out of energy. "Whew," I imagine they say, "I'm winded."

Yellow-bellied SapsuckerOne of many male Yellow-bellied Sapsucker hammering
on his tree. Each drum garnered a handful of responses -
either auditory or, in some cases, a physical encounter.

Sapsuckers, the only completely migratory woodpecker in the east, are back in force. They were drumming from every direction, vocalizing quite often, several times ending in chases involving both males and females. Exciting to watch, but I'm not sure the birds were enjoying themselves. While that bout of drumming clearly has a pay off, at this point in the season it seemed to attract the physical presence of another sapsucker that chased it away.

Tree trunks that weren't claimed by a woodpecker were used by other species. Can you find the bird in this photograph?

Camouflaged BirdI promise you there is a bird in this picture.
Click the image for a larger version.

If you're not seeing the bird against the tree trunk, here's a clue to give you a search image:

Brown CreeperA Brown Creeper, one of many encountered on my walk,
searches for insects while working its way up a trunk.

Brown Creepers called, they sang, from all corners of the forest. I spotted them over and over as they flew from the higher reaches of one tree to the base of the next, then probed for insects as they spiraled their way towards the uppermost branches. For the record, a flushed creeper has never nearly killed me, something I can't say for the equally cryptic woodcock, snipe, or grouse. I can handle a small bird flying a dozen feet (or more) away, a game bird flushing from underfoot is truly heart-stopping. On this trip I only heard Ruffed Grouse booming from a good distance away, and two of them at that. This was one of the very few times I've encountered them at Spencer Crest.

While I was photographing the sapsuckers and creepers I noticed there was only one other species in the immediate area, a pair of White-breasted Nuthatches. They repeatedly visited the backside of a thin tree, I assumed there was a cavity on the other side. I checked but didn't find anything obvious. They appeared agitated so I quietly moved away, shooting a few images as I left. It wasn't until I reviewed the photos I noticed the male was carrying a berry of some sort. Too early for chicks, but I do wonder what type of berry it is.

White-breasted NuthatchWhite-breasted Nuthatch carrying food . . . but to whom?

Here's the full list from my trip, my counts are very conservative. I'll post the results of next weekend's trip, who knows what new migrants will arrive between now and then.

Location: Spencer Crest
Observation date: 4/18/09
Notes: Surprised no Hermit Thrush, RC Kinglet, YR Warbler . . . conditions: 66*F, 40% cloud cover, light breeze, 0 precipitation.
Number of species: 33

Canada Goose 4
Mallard 2
Ruffed Grouse 2
Broad-winged Hawk 1
Mourning Dove 2
Red-bellied Woodpecker 1
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker 6
Downy Woodpecker 5
Northern Flicker 1
Pileated Woodpecker 2
Eastern Phoebe 4
Blue Jay 6
American Crow 1
Tree Swallow 11
Black-capped Chickadee 12
Tufted Titmouse 4
White-breasted Nuthatch 6
Brown Creeper 7
Eastern Bluebird 2
American Robin 8
European Starling 2
Cedar Waxwing 4
Eastern Towhee 3
Fox Sparrow 1
Song Sparrow 14
Dark-eyed Junco (Slate-colored) 8
Northern Cardinal 4
Red-winged Blackbird 14
Common Grackle 10
Brown-headed Cowbird 10
House Finch 2
Pine Siskin 1
American Goldfinch 4

This report was generated automatically by eBird v2 (



jan m said...

What a great bird count! (Note to self: go birding earlier in the day and be more observant.)
I love the creeper in camouflage. I really didn't see it till I enlarged the photo.
I hope you have great weather for next weekend, and the migrants you're watching for arrive in time.

deejbrown said...

Creepers are one of my favorites, although I confess to have lots of faves, depending upon who I am peering at. Great photo!

noflickster said...

jan_m - I think the key is "earlier," at least on this day: observant wasn't an issue! They made themselves "observable"! That was what made the day, everything was out there, in-your-face. I've got my fingers crossed that next weekend is half as good, except I have not only to produce birds but entertain/inform as well. Sunday at 7:00 AM . . . it's gonna be tough.

deejbrown - I have never come across so many creepers in one outing. Like you, my favorite changed from observation to observation. Though, a teaser: my favorite sighting gets its own special post, still to come . . . .

Thanks for dropping by!

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