Migration at Hurdman

Wild Turkey

Wild Turkey

Spring migration is progressing, and although several new species have arrived recently, none are back in any big numbers – except maybe the Bohemian Waxwings that moved through last week and the juncos that are starting to move through now. I spent a few mornings at Hurdman Park before work last week, hoping to take advantage of the early hour to find some new birds. On Monday the 13th I had a good outing, spotting two Green-winged Teal huddled against the shore (a first for me at this location), two Common Goldeneye, two Hooded Mergansers, a couple of Golden-crowned Kinglets, about 20 Bohemian Waxwings, a single American Tree Sparrow, and two Rusty Blackbirds. I heard their squeaky song and thought it sounded different from a grackle’s rusty gate-hinge song, and just got my binoculars on the birds when a Red-winged Blackbird chased them off. I also heard an Eastern Phoebe singing and heard the rattle of Belted Kingfisher, though I saw neither bird.

I went back at lunch the same day, curious as to whether the area would be as productive at mid-day. I only tallied 13 species at lunch, compared to 24 in the morning. Of course, I had less time at lunch and couldn’t cover as much distance, so that might have been a factor. I saw the two Common Goldeneyes and the American Tree Sparrow right in the same spot where I’d seen them earlier, and the Golden-crowned Kinglets a little further along the path. I even managed to take a picture of one (these birds rarely sit still, so it is difficult to get a decent photo of one):

Golden-crowned Kinglet

Golden-crowned Kinglet

I did get a species at lunch that I missed in the morning: a rusty-hued Fox Sparrow foraging in the leaf litter in the woods. That was a new year bird for me.

My visit on Wednesday morning wasn’t nearly as successful. I heard the Fox Sparrow singing and saw the Eastern Phoebe; I also saw a Brown Creeper, a species I hadn’t observed at Hurdman since September. Most astonishing was the number of Bohemian Waxwings present – one flock covered three trees, and I estimated at least 400 were present. There were smaller flocks flying around the area as well, and smaller ones would join together to form larger ones. I had no idea whether these were all part of the same large flock I had seen; here is a small portion (about a third) of that flock.

Bohemian Waxwings

Bohemian Waxwings

I returned again at lunch, and saw only about 100 Bohemian Waxwings altogether. I also saw my first Northern Flicker of the year and an Eastern Comma.

Eastern Comma

Eastern Comma

On Friday morning I tallied 23 species, and I had to work hard to find any migrants of note. Seven Wild Turkeys greeted me just beyond the construction site, the male putting on a spectacular display.

Wild Turkey in Display

Wild Turkey in Display

The only water bird of note was a single Double-crested Cormorant flying upriver. I saw two Northern Flickers and my first Yellow-bellied Sapsucker of the year. Three Cedar Waxwings (also a year bird) were in the same area as the sapsucker, while about 200 Bohemians were present elsewhere. Also seen were one phoebe, one Brown Creeper, a couple of juncos, and a Hermit Thrush. I was happily surprised to see a Red Fox in the area – not one but twice – until I realized it was likely ill with mange.

I was a little disappointed I didn’t see more species (where are the Ruby-crowned Kinglets? The Tree Swallows? The White-throated Sparrows? The hawks?) and that the area wasn’t very “birdy” overall, but the peak of migration is still to come. Although the temperatures this week don’t look good for encouraging the birds to move, by the end of the month there should be a lot of new arrivals to keep things interesting!

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2 thoughts on “Migration at Hurdman

    • Thanks Suzanne! This is the first time I’ve seen one displaying this close; normally I see them in distant fields. I’m happy to have finally captured one in full display!

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