Saturday, October 22, 2011

Pete Gilmore Bird Walk

Birdwatching Group
50's and clear this morning, but not windy. A great day for a walk with Pete.

Haynes, Jane and I happened to arrive at the Winchester St. entrance at the same time and a bit early, so we walked around the lower gardens, but it was very quiet. We headed down to the river and as we passed the pond, Haynes and Jane spotted a hermit thrush down on a low branch - very difficult to see when it dropped to the ground.

Wild Turkeys
At the river entrance, the group was forming - at least 12 people in all. We started by going down to the dock where Matt saw a pied billed grebe that dove under the water. Very exciting!

As we walked the path adjacent to the soccer field, some of us saw several chickadees high up in the oaks and others in the group saw a couple of golden crowned kinglets. There was much activity at the meadow and at the edge of the woods behind it. We saw a female yellow throat, several white throated sparrows, song sparrows and a very dull yellow rumped warbler. Someone saw wood ducks flying overhead.
The Scout

The lower gardens were fairly quiet. We saw several house finches, an Eastern phoebe, cardinals, a fleeting look at a palm warbler and another thrush! There was much discussion during and after about whether this was a wood thrush or a gray cheeked thrush. Not sure if it will ever be agreed upon… As we were examining the meadow again, a troupe of wild turkeys arrived near the parking lot. They foraged a bit and then headed into the woods, single file. Pete pictures them as little old ladies with pocketbooks under their wings, on a group shopping expedition!

As we headed to the upper gardens, we had several sightings of this funny little house finch. It looked young because it's red coloring was quite blotchy, it was very puffy and it didn't seem terribly afraid of our group.

The upper gardens were in sun and that made the birds more active. We saw an enormous flock of cormorants high in the sky in formation, migrating. With two mathematicians in our midst, it was estimated that there were between 128 and 150 birds. Power of 2!

Young House Finch?
Savannah sparrows have now arrived and some of them were quite bright with their yellow eyebrows. The goldfinches were active and vocal and juncos were twittering and flittering. A beautiful swamp sparrow was seen foraging in one of the gardens and chipping sparrows were seen.

Cormorants Migrating
We were all hoping to see a blue grosbeak that Pete had seen earlier in the week but it was not to be. However, we did have yet another sighting of the indigo bunting which was very nice. Had a nice view of another yellow-rumped warbler, only this one was very bright, looking like it was almost still in it's breeding plumage. It's yellow patch under the wing and tail was vibrant.

As the walk was winding down, we took one more look near the lower gardens and saw a red-eyed vireo and a mockingbird. I had to leave, but the last few people, Haynes, Jane, Pete and Matt took another pass at the lower gardens. If there is anything to report, it will be in the comments area.


  1. I went down the path from the gardens to the river, but quickly discovered that trail was too wet to continue. But I did get to find a warbler that I am unable to identify and thought I might leave a description and see if any one had any ideass. My notes are:
    Warbler like bird with a small thin bill and fleshy orange legs. Yellow throat, but didn't extend onto the breast, which was a light gray/white and maybe with very faint streaking on the sides of the breast. The back and wings were a grayer brown with 2 wing bars while the head was a warmer brown.

  2. For what it's worth, here's my e-bird list from this trip.
    Pete and others saw a thrush near where Suzette and I did, but report different characteristics and different call notes. Maybe there were two different birds there!

    Wood Duck 3
    Wild Turkey 8
    Pied-billed Grebe 1 River; quickly vanished.
    Double-crested Cormorant 130
    Mourning Dove 6
    Downy Woodpecker 1
    Hairy Woodpecker 1
    Northern Flicker 1
    Eastern Phoebe 1
    Red-eyed Vireo 1
    Blue Jay 4
    American Crow 3
    Black-capped Chickadee 10
    White-breasted Nuthatch 2
    Golden-crowned Kinglet 3
    Hermit Thrush 1
    Wood Thrush 1 Clear spots. Clucking, a bit like a robin.
    American Robin 15
    Northern Mockingbird 2
    European Starling 5
    Common Yellowthroat 2
    Yellow-rumped Warbler 4
    warbler sp. 1 pine or blackpoll
    Chipping Sparrow 2
    Savannah Sparrow 6
    Song Sparrow 18
    Swamp Sparrow 3
    White-throated Sparrow 15
    Dark-eyed Junco 6
    Northern Cardinal 4
    Blue Grosbeak 1 Heard only: sequence of flat chips, drier and more sequence
    d than Cardinal. Upper garden.
    Indigo Bunting 2
    Common Grackle 12
    House Finch 8
    American Goldfinch 8