If I had planned this better I would have started to get myself in shape in December and done a Big Walking Day on January 1, before the weather headed north. But I didn’t. So it came down to doing the first Monthly Big Walk this weekend. Saturday was out with its snow and 4o+MPH gusts.
So I headed out the door at 8:45 Sunday morning.
It still wasn’t perfect with the temperature at 20F, winds out of the south at 18, and cloudy. But it was a heck of lot better than Saturday. The plan was to walk the Greenway Trail which still had open water, out to Lowes/Walmart Pond with its open water, and then home. That would be about an 8 mile walk, which is about my limit right now in winter boots. If all worked out I should see about 35 species on that route.
Upon arriving at the trail the second bird I picked up after White-breasted Nuthatch was a Yellow-rumped Warbler. One of the birds that was on today’s iffy list. Continuing down the trail I picked up several woodland species plus a Brown Creeper and the resident Belted Kingfisher flying upstream, both birds on the iffy list. Towards the end of the wooded part of the trail a Cooper’s Hawk was sitting and watching, which explained the birds being quiet. The Cooper’s didn’t like my presence so he flew away and then I quickly picked up Northern Flicker and maybe the bird of the day – Yellow-bellied Sapsucker. A bird I really hadn’t expected to see.
Making my way to Province Park I was seeing many of the local birds but nothing new until a Hairy Woodpecker landed in a tree above me. It was now time to do the least fun part of the day, the segment to Walmart/Lowes Pond. I was sitting at 26 species and figured the pond was good for 4-5 more species plus on the walk home a few more might get me to 35. So I started the 2.5 mile walk. And as anticipated I didn’t see anything on the segment but European Starlings and House Sparrows. Plus a Mourning Dove. But nothing new.
The Lowes/Walmart pond had the usual suspects – Canada Geese, Mallards, Redheads, Common Goldeneyes, and American Coots. But nothing that hadn’t been there for the last week. I scanned for a half hour to make sure and then started the walk home.
I saw American Kestrels as planned and the other bird of the day – a Killdeer – by a small factory. Probably the same one I saw in this area 2 weeks ago. But do you think a Red-tailed Hawk was around? Every time I drive that area I see one or two. I have seen them on all my walks. I see them in my sleep. I hear them on every TV show that needs a bird call. But not one today.
So I ended up with 32 species and walked 8.6 miles. Species missed that I should have seen besides the Red-Tailed Hawk were American Tree and White-throated Sparrows, both seen yesterday on a scouting walk. And I probably could have seen Horned Lark and Eastern Bluebird if I would have walked a few miles into the country. But that wasn’t going to happen on my tired legs. But the Sapsucker and Killdeer were both pleasant surprises.
All in all a fun day and I am sure they will be even better as I get in better shape.