Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Sunday Morning at Daggerwing

Sunday morning, Maureen and I set off on another of our monthly bird surveys for Daggerwing Nature Center to see what's been hanging around and try to uncover some surprises.

For long stretches, it seemed like everything that moved was either a Palm Warbler or a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher. Eventually, more and more Pine Warblers started showing up, and got friendly with the camera. Appropriately, the Yellow-rumped (Myrtle) Warblers were the most active within the rows of wax myrtles.

A House Wren peeked out at us from behind a stump, and then darted off into the crevice of a fallen tree. We staked it out for several minutes and were rewarded with much better looks than we've managed in the past. It would call out, duck behind a branch, and then pop back up and start calling again. Although we only saw one, we heard the calls of others from not far off.

Overhead, massive flocks of American Robins passed over the park, heading north. Only one relatively small contingent of 50 or so made a brief sojourn in one of the trees back toward the perimeter before continuing on their way through.

We counted more Eastern Phoebes than I can remember seeing on one outing. One particularly audacious individual swooped down from its perch to snatch an insect off the grass a mere 3 ft. from where I stood.

It started off as a slow day for raptors. The Ospreys are a given - we almost always see several right away - and we had an early Red-shouldered Hawk, but surveying the snags in areas that have been reliable for Red-tailed Hawks and American Kestrels, we came up empty. After backtracking, we headed down the other arm of the boardwalk and found a solemn-looking Merlin (is there any other kind?). Then, after climbing the observation tower, a Buteo passed us by. I apologize, dear readers, that all I can say with confidence is that it was either a Broad-winged or a light-morph Short-tailed Hawk. I was able to make out light underparts with a dark border around the wings, but it soon moved on. Maureen noticed it hold its wings at a slight downward angle, so Broad-winged seems likely.

On the way back toward the nature center, Maureen was able to spot an American Bittern, doing it's best impression of pickerel weed. This was the most open we've ever seen one, and we watched it for at least 20 minutes before it flew to where it was no longer visible. While it generally moved through the reeds cautiously, and remained as still as it could manage, it charged at a Tricolored Heron that wandered too close to its favorite hiding place, and sent the heron flying before it even knew what happened.


  1. Nice post, lovely photos and great shots of the Bittern - congrats!

  2. I loved the video! The bittern really is doing a great job impersonating the reeds.