As I posted in January I intend to do a Big Walking Day per month for exercise and fun. With the weather looking much better for Saturday than Sunday, I headed out Saturday morning. Turned out to be a day for contradictions.
First of all, just like that, the early spring birds are back. Not one around last weekend. Not one. And everywhere I went today there they were. Red-winged Blackbirds in trees, Killdeer flying overhead, Eastern Meadowlarks singing, a lone Common Grackle, and Sandhill Cranes migrating. Where were they last week? I assume farther south waiting in a warmer setting.
I started out an hour before sunrise trying a spot that looked good for Eastern-screech Owls. Really didn’t expect any luck and didn’t have any. First bird of the day was a pair of Canada Geese that didn’t like me walking in the dark. Then the 3 mile walk to Lowes/Walmart pond walking through residential areas I knew would be slow, so I timed it to be in the dark.
Arriving at Lowes/Walmart pond at daybreak, it was the slowest it has been all winter. Just a few Canada Geese, American Coots, and one Common Goldeneye. Nothing else. Not even the Mallards or the Redheads that were there Friday.
So I moved on. To lengthen the walk this month I walked out to the High School to bird the creek.
I don’t know if it was all the rain we had Thursday night that evidently had made the creek overflow, but it was slow there also. About the only thing I saw from this usual birdy spot, was a couple of First Of Year (FOY) singing Eastern Meadowlark and Red-winged Blackbirds annoyed with my presence.
Taking a different route back to Lowes/Walmart I saw a Red-tailed Hawk in a distant tree. This was great since I missed it on last month’s walk. Also a couple of Northern Mockingbirds in a row of trees along the road. No change at the pond so now the 3 mile walk back to the north end of the Greenway Trail.
Continuing the trend of slow birding not much happened until I saw a weird looking, far off, gray cloud to the far north. Closer scrutiny showed the cloud was a flock of 70 Sandhill Cranes! I impressed myself that my so-so eyesight picked out the cranes. The cranes circled a couple of times, one time coming close, and then headed north. On the day I saw three flocks totaling about 200 birds.
The day picked up a little at Greenway Trail when a Great Blue Heron flew by. I then picked up some of the local species I had missed, but still not many and none of the birds that had been here all winter. With my legs getting real tired, I called it a day after the north end of the trail and headed home seeing a lone Common Grackle in a tree close to our place.
So it turned out to be a day of contradictions. Saw several FOY birds, but birds that I thought I should have seen – more waterfowl, kinglets, creepers, sparrows – weren’t around. I walked 12 miles in 5.5 hours and saw 33 species.
I will have a recap of February later this week.
Bring on full Spring, not one day wonders!