Today started out at about 33 degrees at 7:00 and by the time I left the park at 8:45 a.m. it was 46 degrees and sunny. We needed this preview of spring so badly! I'm sure the birds feel the same.
Heading down to the river I saw our usual friends; nuthatches, goldfinches, chickadees, cardinals etc. The river was filled with its winter inhabitants as well as the first blackbirds that have returned. I heard the red-bellied, flickers and downies. Saw a mallard pair in the river, mourning doves and robins. I was going to go up the back way to the gardens and forgot from last week how flooded it was. You can't get through on the path, so I attempted some bush wacking. First, got tangled up in the cat briar and then realized the flooding was everywhere and I just couldn't get through.
Hit the upper gardens first. The back side of the upper gardens was thrumming with juncos, cardinals, song sparrows and goldfinches. Saw this little guy singing his heart out. I think he might have been a youngster because his song sounded a little funny!
As I headed down to the lower gardens, I heard some strange noises coming from the swamp area. I thought it sounded like someone chopping down trees and I was concerned. Normally, I would never head down to the swamp as I am terrified of the tics and West Nile mosquitos, but I knew they couldn't possibly be out yet. I didn't realize the path was so easy to walk on this time of year and I headed right down to the swamp edge. I passed a tree and heard a disturbance. Looked up and there was a large bird that fluttered off to a nearby tree. I couldn't believe it. It was our barred owl!!!!!! Since this is my second sighting, I am hopeful that we have a resident! Again, it was very pleasant and didn't mind at all that I took its picture from the front and back!
I continued to hear these cracking noises, but could see absolutely no sign of people or animals or anything. I'm wondering if it was ice cracking but it sounded so loud. Any ideas?
I ran into the photographer Ilya who reminded me that we are almost upon woodcock mating season.
Just as I got to my car and had my binoculars and camera packed away, I saw a large bird in the woods flying from tree to tree as the crows chased it. It was a hawk of some sort. Even when I managed to get my binoculars out, I was a little too far to positively identify. It was funny, because other birds looked on and followed the action just like we do when we see a car accident on the road.