Let us now praise humble birds. Lately these two species are often seen (and definitely heard!) at Nathan Krestul Park, including this afternoon:
The Northern Cardinal I saw getting attacked in my back yard yesterday is missing a foot. He still makes it to the safflower feeder and peanut feeder. There’s at least one other male Northern Cardinal around, and two females.
I saw four different American Goldfinches around today, munching on sunflower chips and drinking from the bubbler. Three appeared to be males. A Carolina Wren with a reddish breast offered two peanuts in quick succession to another Carolina Wren with a more pale breast. Both feed on the nut cylinder. I haven’t seen pale breast flutter its wings or beg, so I don’t know whether this is a (potential) mate or a juvenile. A male Northern Parula and a Black-and-white Warbler stopped by the bubbler to take baths. The Gray Catbird has been more visible, making repeated trips to the nut cylinder, where it has no problem displacing a Downy Woodpecker. The Downies and Red-bellies are all hitting the suet, the nut cylinder, and the peanut feeder often.
Another beautiful day for a spin by the lake with Gram at Westminster Woods. We saw the Anhinga drying its wings on a log in the lake. We heard an Osprey call every few minutes from the platform nest, but the best look we got was this:
Later we spotted the Anhinga swimming in open water, and then hoist itself up into a tree that grows in the lake. That brought much protest from a Green Heron, who flew out from the shoreline. Here’s the Green Heron keeping close watch on the Anhinga:
And here’s the Anhinga, just trying to dry itself:
I showed Gram pictures from Saint Marks National Wildlife Refuge. A funny thing, her Peterson’s listed the Northern Harrier as a Marsh Hawk. Reminds me of the time I tried to look up Wood Stork in that guide, and instead was referred to a Wood Ibis.
At home, there are still American Goldfinch stragglers:
This evening I spotted a Northern Parula taking a couple of quick baths in the bubbler. Also watched a female Northern Cardinal beating a male down from a branch–she kicked his head, as though she were going to land on him.
On Sunday, April 17, I went to Saint Marks National Wildlife Refuge for the first time. At the visitor center parking lot, I met volunteers Matt and Cyndi Johnstone, who were about to lead a birding tour of the refuge. What luck! Seven of us, including the Johnstones, spent the next three hours traveling around the refuge by truck (and trailer). Early on, across from the Tower Pond, Cyndi spotted an adult bobcat. Matt trained his scope on it, and we all got good views of the bobcat out on the sand. At the Tower Pond there were all sorts of shore birds, many firsts for me. Throughout the tour we saw a Scarlet Tanager, a Ruby-crowned Kinglet, a Whimbrel, a Clapper Rail, Dunlins, Black-necked Stilts, Black-bellied Plovers, Least Terns, Eastern Bluebirds, a Caspian Tern, a Forster’s Tern, Snowy Egrets, Bald Eagles, a Northern Harrier, Ospreys, a Great Blue Heron, a White Pelican, Tree Swallows, Barn Swallows, Purple Gallinules, Common Moorhens, American Coots, an Eastern Kingbird, Belted Kingfishers, Meadowlarks, Bobolinks, Turkey Vultures, Red-winged Blackbirds, and Savannah Sparrows–and more. We also saw lots of young alligators sunning on the banks, and even a raccoon loping along the double-track. Thistle was blooming everywhere, as was lantana. Cyndi pointed out a leather flower, whose small purple flower had the texture of leather.
On Tuesday, April 19, I went back to the refuge and retraced the tour on my own, this time by mountain bike. Again, the weather was beautiful, and I spent fantastic four hours out on the refuge. Other than a few people on the Tower Pond Trail when I started, and a couple heading north by the Mounds Pool #3 when I was returning, I saw no one–but I did see plenty of wildlife! A little north of where we saw the adult bobcat, I spotted a younger bobcat in the grass. Again, there were many alligators, and the odd turtle. As I rode along the pools, alligators sunning themselves on the banks, but obscured by grass, dived into the water. Splash! Splash! I saw many of the same species as on Sunday, and also a Common Yellowthroat, a Red-bellied Woodpecker, and a hummingbird (species unknown, but probably Ruby-throated).
The pictures below are all from Tuesday, the 19th, except for the Purple Gallinule and Black-necked Stilt.
Have sunflower chips, have American Goldfinches. About a half dozen are still showing up in our back yard.
To Westminster Woods in the early afternoon to see Gram. Though the temperature was in the low 70s, the wind was blowing, and Gram did not want to stay outdoors long. However, we did see some wildlife.
Stopped by Nathan Krestul Park on my way home. An Osprey perched high in a tree. Ten juvenile White Ibis looked for crabs on the mud flats. A Little Blue Heron (juvenile) and a Tricolored Heron were out in the water. Red-winged Blackbirds called incessantly. Saw a couple of Commons Grackles feeding in the field, along with a Palm Warbler and a Brown-headed Cowbird. And after hearing (but not seeing) the Belted Kingfisher laugh at me for days, I finally snapped his picture.
Stopped by Nathan Krestul Park on my way home from work. Nineteen juvenile White Ibis were on the mud flats.
This showboat cocked its tail every time it sang a note:
Also saw a Little Blue Heron (juvenile) and an Eastern Phoebe, who should have left for northern parts by now.
At home, I saw the male Ruby-throated Hummingbird and got my first picture of it this year:
Also saw a pair of Gray Catbirds, a pair of Northern Cardinals, a pair of House Finches, a few Mourning Doves, a lone Carolina Wren, and this lone American Goldfinch, who also should have left for northern parts by now:
This morning I saw the first female Ruby-throated Hummingbird of the season at our nectar feeder. We’ve also had a few American Goldfinches around every day, thanks to sunflower chips a friend had given me.
Although the temperature was mild–in the low 70s–it was too windy at Westminster Woods for Gram to spend much time outside this afternoon. We heard an Osprey calling and caught a glimpse of one on the platform nest atop the lake. This Anhinga was drying out:
We spent the previous weekend in Ohio visiting my better half’s family. He has an aunt and uncle who live in a wooded area. Their four bird feeders were busy non-stop. We saw our first White-breasted Nuthatch, Dark-eyed Junco, Black-capped Chickadee, and Hairy Woodpecker. They even have a Pileated Woodpecker who comes to their suet feeder!