Sunday, November 10, 2013

A very late Eastern Towhee migrant!

Tufted titmouse
It was 8:15, 44 degrees and cloudy when I arrived at the park.

The path near the meadow and parking lot was loaded with titmice, nuthatches and chickadees. The nuthatches surprised me because they were foraging on the ground instead of on tree trunks but as soon as they saw me, they flew up to safer locations. The titmice seemed quite tame as they paraded around while I watched. Chickadees were busy flitting from branch to branch in search of berries and other good things to eat.

The lower gardens had dozens of robins and some jays. Families of goldfinches scoured one of their favorite gardens where the weeds have been cut down this week, but the birds seem undeterred as they searched the ground instead of perching and eating. Our usual song sparrows, juncos, house finches, cardinals and white throated sparrows were busy as well. I was still hoping for a fox sparrow, but it wasn't to be. Several cedar waxwing families were gathered atop various trees, very busy for themselves.

Surprisingly, I didn't see or hear one bird in the upper gardens. I couldn't believe it. However, with the leaves starting to fall, I've been finding nests all over the park that I had no idea were there in the breeding months. Despite the nests we did find this summer, it's amazing how many more nests were hiding in plain view. You have to admire these little guys and gals.

Eastern Towhee
The soccer field path and pond were quiet as well, save for lots of robins on the field and the odd downy woodpecker. Woodcock meadow had a few jays, robins, cardinals and juncos. A seagull flew overhead. Finally, I saw a couple of yellow-rumped warblers in a cypress tree which was a nice treat.

As I headed back to the car, I decided to take one more look around the lower gardens. Saw what I think were a couple of chippers on the ground (although I was thinking possibly tree sparrows, but didn't see the spot on the chest). Once inside the lower gardens, I caught a glimpse of what looked like a very weird robin, but as soon as I got my binoculars on it, I realized it was an Eastern towhee! It had a beautiful black head and back, the rufous sides and smaller than a robin. I had a really good look at it in two different locations. Although it's not the most flattering view from the backside, I was glad to have some evidence of its presence, since it is quite late, but not unheard of, for a towhee to be seen. Is the same one we saw a few weeks ago?

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