Monday, October 06, 2008

Bear Creek after Ike

Yesterday morning, I returned to Bear Creek Park for the first time since Hurricane Ike. Signs of the storm's passage were everywhere. There were innumerable fallen branches and scores, perhaps hundreds, of fallen trees. Some roads and trails were still blocked by high water or debris.

Picnic tables were covered with or surrounded by branches and mud. The whole northern section of the park was slick with a layer of mud. It's certainly going to be a while before the park is back to normal.

While I didn't see any unusual species, the birding was good. I knew it was going to be good when my first sighting was that of a Merlin being chased all over the sky by two American crows.

Both sides of the road at Golbow and Dopslauf were busy with numerous American Crows, Red-headed and Red-bellied Woodpeckers and Eastern Bluebirds, plus a few Carolina Chickadees,Blue Jays and Tufted Titmice.

Red-headed Woodpecker

However, the real treat lay further ahead. The area behind Restroom 9 was still largely flooded and was a mass of wading birds. One pool had over 100 White Ibis.

Another had 9 Little Blue Herons, a young Yellow-crowned Night Heron and several Lesser Yellowlegs. In yet another, White Ibis were joined by 20 Great Egrets, a dozen Snowy Egrets and even a couple of Roseate Spoonbills. Meanwhile, Red-bellied Woodpeckers, American Crows and Blue Jays kept up s steady chorus of calls.

At the Equestrian Trail meeting area I was roundly scolded by a Red-shouldered Hawk. The only other birds here were several Northern Mockingbirds and a group of six male Northern Cardinals.

Red-shouldered Hawk

The other entrance to the trail had Killdeer and Eastern Bluebirds. Walking the first section of the trail, I was treated to a chorus of Blue Jays and Red-bellied Woodpeckers, while I saw the only Carolina Wren and Downy Woodpecker of the morning. Unfortunately, a fallen tree and oceans of mud blocked the trail after only 100 yards.

As I drove out of the park via Golbow, I was circled by two Turkey Vultures.

Yard Note:

On Friday we had several Chipping Sparrows in our backyard. This is a full month earlier than last year. On Saturday our front yard had half-a-dozen Common Grackles, birds that usually visit our yards only in late winter or early spring.


Birdwoman said...

Chipping Sparrows in the yard already? Wow! That is early. I had my first grackles of the fall over the weekend. Maybe this is going to be an unusual fall and winter for backyard birding.

Isaac said...

I hope so. My bird feeders still sit untouched. I finally saw a pair of cardinals visit briefly this past weekend. First visitors since Ike.