The Warm Weather Continues

Juvenile Cooper's Hawk

The warm weather continued all last week, so I visited Hurdman Park on three different days hoping to find more butterflies and migrants. On Monday I saw a butterfly right away, likely a Cabbage White, but instead of flying down the path it went into the woods where I couldn’t follow or photograph it. Cabbage Whites overwinter in the pupa stage, so when the warm weather arrives they emerge as adults rather quickly. I usually see them at Hurdman fairly early in the spring, but usually not this early!

I was happy to hear lots of goldfinches and Song Sparrows singing throughout the park. The Song Sparrows are back in large numbers now, and I estimate I saw (and heard) about 20 of them during my walk. I checked the river in a few different places to see if any Great Blue Herons had returned, but they were still absent from the riverbank. The water levels are still rather high, though, so while they may be around, they may not return to this spot until the water recedes.

As I was climbing the small bank to get back to the bike path, I noticed a large brown bird flying across the field directly toward me. I was mesmerized as it landed in a tree directly above my head. Although the angle was not the best for photography, I slowly raised my camera and took a couple of pictures. It wasn’t until after I got home and reviewed my photos that I realized it was a juvenile Cooper’s Hawk and that it had something clutched in its talons.

Juvenile Cooper's Hawk with prey

After waiting a minute or so I moved a bit further back in order to get a view from a better angle. However, the hawk noticed me and immediately flew off. I’ve seen accipiters at Hurdman on a number of occasions, but rarely have the chance to photograph them. I was thrilled that I not only got some great views of this accipiter, but also some good enough photographs to identify him (thanks to C. Traynor for his help with the identification)!

After that encounter I resumed my walk through the woods hoping to find another butterfly. I didn’t see one that day, but found something just as marvelous: my first Golden-crowned Kinglet of the year. He was foraging low among the knee-high vegetation, and I managed to get one photo of him before he disappeared:

Golden-crowned Kinglet

The Cooper’s Hawk, the Cabbage White, and the Golden-crowned Kinglet made Monday’s outing the best of that week. Although the unseasonably warm temperatures continued the rest of the week with highs in the mid-20s, I only saw one other butterfly, a Mourning Cloak on Tuesday (the first official day of spring!) which disappeared before I could photograph it. A pair of Wood Ducks (male and female) was also a nice find on Tuesday, and a pair of Canada Geese resting on the lawn on Wednesday may stay to breed in the area.

Canada Geese on the Rideau River

Unfortunately the nice weather didn’t last; by Saturday the temperatures cooled off, returning to normal.

5 thoughts on “The Warm Weather Continues

  1. Yay, I’ve successfully added this site to my friends page on LJ!

    So happy to hear that kinglets are back. I’m going to Jack Pine with my mother-in-law tomorrow, maybe we’ll see some.

  2. Hi Suzanne! Glad you found me! I was at Jack Pine Trail this morning but didn’t see any kinglets. There were a few around the Beaver Trail across the road, though….as well as an Eastern Phoebe near the Wild Bird Care Center and a female Red-winged Blackbird at the boardwalk (both firsts of the year for me!)

  3. Yep, Beaver Trail is just where I found them! A band in the treetops near the beaver pond overlook.

    It’s been a bountiful spring for Fox Sparrows. Most years I rarely see them. Saw two together today at Jack Pine Trail.

    • That’s just where I saw the kinglets this morning, too! A couple of Wood Ducks flew over and landed in the marsh while I was there. Did you get the phoebe near the WBCC?

      I usually see at least a couple of Fox Sparrows in Stony Swamp every spring and fall, either Jack Pine or Sarsaparilla or occasionally the Beaver Trail. I don’t know if this spring is bountiful, it seems typical for me….typical, too, in that I can’t get a photo of them! 🙂

  4. BTW, if anyone else on LJ wants to follow you here, I think they can use the syndication I created:

    Nope, no phoebes for me yet. No herons either!

    You might have good luck with the Fox Sparrows currently at JPT…they were coming right out on the path, feeding on spilled seed along with juncos.

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