Wednesday, February 23, 2011

A little birthday birding

I took a half day off in the middle of a hectic work week to do a little birding. At the Falls Twp Community Park the gull flock was mostly adult Herring and Ring-billed. Nearby Common Mergansers crowded the patches of open water, but most of the ex-gravel pits here are still iced over. Back up through Trenton and down to Florence, the river was devoid of gulls. Consolation prizes were a Great Cormorant bathing in the river, a few more Common Mergansers, and a Fish Crow which continued to vocalize cuh-uh the entire time I was at Florence. American Crows were far more numerous however. (Fish Crow was new for the year).

After work and towards dusk I checked a Great Horned Owl spot near Kingston without success, but then at Mapleton Preserve I did manage to find American Woodcock. I inadvertently flushed two from trail-side, but the at my usual location at the intersection of two trails I did see and hear two males displaying. Since I was about two weeks earlier than I normally check out this place, dusk was earlier and the rush hour traffic noise more intrusive, but I was able to hear the Woodcocks peenting (typically on the ground when they do this, sometimes circling at low altitude), twittering (as they climb in display flight), chirping (descent in display flight) and also the vocalization I don't regularly hear described: a sort of muttering growl sound that they sometimes make when flying around or mixed in with twittering on ascent. Woodcocks are in decline but still not all that difficult to find on warmer evenings in early spring.

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