Sunday, January 20, 2013

Flock of Redpolls!

Red polls
I got to the park around 7:35 a.m. It was about 40 degrees, clear and a little windy, but nice.

I strolled around the lower gardens and didn't hear or see one bird! I couldn't believe it. I thought the milder weather would have brought the birds out. The upper gardens were dead quiet too. No signs of life - not even a robin or song sparrow present.

So, I decided to head down to the river, as that area was more active last weekend. When I got to the path by the soccer field, I finally saw a couple of robins and heard the little cheep, cheep of a couple of white throated sparrows foraging in the leaf litter. A group of chickadees appeared, and the male cardinal I've been seeing down there became evident.

I saw a group of birds in front of me and I thought at least I was going to see a few song sparrows, but the markings weren't right. Then I thought they must be house finches, but the breast was much clearer - the striations were mostly on the sides. When they realized I was there, the whole flock few to the side of the pond on a white birch tree branch. As I focused in, I realized I was looking at my first flock of redpolls (8 individuals)! Matt was right - they really like the catkins on the birch trees. I was so excited except they were too far away to photograph at all. Eventually, they came back to the birch near the path and I was at least able to get something. The bird on the top left is showing a little of the distinctive red patch. Sure wish I had a better telephoto lens.

A couple of mourning doves flew overhead as well as several groups of vocal geese. A lone goldfinch was hanging out with the redpolls until a few friends joined in. A whitebreasted nuthatch scoured the bark of a large tree. On my way back to the car, I finally saw a couple of song sparrows. One does wonder where the birds are on a day like today. You know they're there somewhere.

1 comment:

  1. I'm so glad that they are back and you got to see them! After finding them new years day, I was very interested in seeing what a white birch catkin is. So next time I walked passed a tree with a catkin I could reach I decided to look closely. I was totally amazed out how small those seeds are, definitely smaller than a sesame seed. No wonder they are eating all the time.