I believe Snoopy (apologies to Charles Shultz) would likely start this story “It was a cold and windy morning.”
It was indeed a cold — 28 degrees — and windy morning when we ventured outside to join David Gardner on a Learning Together birding walk. The initial site was the Island’s gardens and maintenance areas. Ten had signed up to accompany David; six showed up; and four finished. Fortunately we enjoyed bright sunshine and much of the time we were sheltered from the chilly wind.
White-throated Sparrows, scratching the ground near the sewer plant’s treatment tanks, greeted us first. Then there was a Killdeer as we approached the large pond where treated water collects. Flying above were four Bald Eagles — two adults and two immatures. There were also Black and Turkey Vultures aloft. The activity seemed to lessen the concern for the temperature. There were Buffleheads and Ruddy Ducks swimming at the far end as we began a counterclockwise trek around the large pond. It was soon discovered that, within the trees and shrubs to our right (which tended to block the wind), there were numerous species of birds, such as Chipping Sparrows, Tufted Titmice, Eastern Bluebirds, American Goldfinches, and Pine Warblers, as we slowly worked our way around the body of water. Other species were seen in the air — Wood Stork, Cooper’s Hawk, and Forster’s Tern, for example. Along the water’s edge were Wilson’s Snipes. From the parking area next to the gardens area, a Red-shouldered Hawk (our 41st specie) was seen in a tree at the far end of those gardens. Likely hoping for a rabbit or rat for lunch.
Our next stop was the Equestrian Center where the temperature had climbed to 32 degrees. Here 11 species were seen. Only two of them — European Starling and Great Egret — were different from the earlier sightings.
Thus, during the 2.5 hours of birding, 43 species were observed. A very successful morning considering the weather.
Submitted by George Haskins
Photos by Marie Wardell