Saturday, December 26, 2015

Last Blog Post of 2015

Apparently I am not designed to be a blogger since it's hard for me to fit it into my schedule.  So I'll try to catch readers up with this post as the end of 2015 nears.

Today was our Christmas Bird Count at the park.  I was thrilled to have 12 people show to count with me...especially Roger, Steve, and James who are excellent birders.  It was an overcast, dark birds against dark sky for the first couple of hours.  Yes, we started at 7 AM and ended at 12:30 PM. 

Due to flooding from recent rains and dam releases from Lake Murray, we were unable to walk any of the paved paths but we covered almost 100% of the park.  We began with the Challenge Trail to check on the pair of Barred Owls. 

As usual a male had appeared in the pine I call the Courtin' Tree in October.  In late November, a female appeared.  I walk in the park daily so had lots of chances to watch the change of positions - from opposite side of tree to same side but different limbs to same side, same limb.  The female will leave any day now to lay eggs so we'll have owlets by March/April.

After that, we walked the lower part of the park except for half of the maintenance road.  When that was finished, it was 10 AM and several observers had to leave.  6 of us continued, walking the new road through the open field, all the way to the area where the sports fields have been built.  Lucky we went that far because we added a Bald Eagle to our count but the sight of so many trees having been removed for a road to the river made me so sad.  That had been prime birding area.  No longer.

We did see three white-tailed deer crossing the road behind us. But this is a bird blog so...
We had 44 species, from a few Ring-bill Gulls leaving the lake for the day in some parking lot to those hyperactive Ruby-crown Kinglets to a Great Blue Heron to a Blue-headed Vireo. 
Sparrows included Swamp, White-throated, Song, and lots of Chipping Sparrows.  Only two warbler species: Yellow rump and Pine.  Lots of Woodpeckers: Red-headed, Red-bellied, Pileated, Downy, Northern Flicker, and Yellow Bellied Sapsucker. 

When you visit the park to bird on your own, stop at the Environmental Center and pick up a birdlist to track what you see.  Or join us the last Saturday of each month at 8 AM for a couple of hours of walking and birding.  I guarantee we don't walk the 7 miles we walked today! 

Don't let the flooded paved walks stop you from birding.  You can stay on the road and in the parking lots and still see and hear birds.  Be sure to go to the wetlands pond, too.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

What's Happening Bird-Wise at Saluda Shoals Park?

Our April Walk was rainy but 7 of us birded an hour anyway.  Then, the next day, some folks agreed to try again, starting at 7 AM.  I watched expert birders arriving and knew it would be a great day.  It could be no less when Irvin Pitts, Roger Smith, Jerry Griggs, Lewis Burke, Kent Bedenbaugh, Steve and Susan McInnis joined me.  Here is the list Irvin prepared from that day!

Now, it's past migration peak but bird events are on-going.  Yellow-bill Cuckoos are yukking loudly.  The pair of Red-shouldered Hawk chicks are hopping out of the nest to nearby limbs to stretch their wings.  I hope to be their for the first flight.  A Green Heron is back in the wetlands pond and the Red-headed Woodpeckers are back in the woodpecker tree at the end of the pond. 

The gate is still up at the pedestrian bridge about 1.75 miles out on the greenway and the prep is about to start on a road that will go down the powerline area behind the dog park to connect to the new sports fields. 

Remember, if you're new to this park, there is a birdlist available at the registration desk, take one and see what you can find. 

> Saluda Shoals Park, Lexington,
> Apr 28, 2015 7:10 AM - 12:10 PM
> Protocol: Traveling
> 3.0
> 68 species
> Wood Duck  1
> Great Blue Heron  4
> Turkey
Vulture  5
> Cooper's Hawk  1
> Red-shouldered Hawk  2     active nest with
> Red-tailed Hawk  1
> Chimney Swift  1
> Ruby-throated Hummingbird
> Red-bellied Woodpecker  4
> Downy Woodpecker  2
> Pileated Woodpecker
> Eastern Phoebe  4
> Great Crested Flycatcher  5
> Eastern Kingbird  2
White-eyed Vireo  6
> Red-eyed Vireo  20
> Blue Jay  5
> American Crow  4
Fish Crow  1
> Northern Rough-winged Swallow  10
> Barn Swallow  1
> Carolina
Chickadee  8
> Tufted Titmouse  12     one adult carrying nest material (ground
> House Wren  3
> Carolina Wren  8
> Blue-gray Gnatcatcher  10
Ruby-crowned Kinglet  2
> Eastern Bluebird  8
> Veery  1
> Swainson's Thrush
> Wood Thrush  1
> Gray Catbird  3
> Brown Thrasher  1
> Northern
Mockingbird  1
> Cedar Waxwing  10
> Ovenbird  3
> Worm-eating Warbler  2
Louisiana Waterthrush  1
> Black-and-white Warbler  8
> Swainson's Warbler
> Common Yellowthroat  4
> Hooded Warbler  2
> American Redstart  9
> Cape
May Warbler  10     mostly singing males. Six or seven observed including three
together. Others identified by song.
> Northern Parula  17
> Yellow Warbler
> Chestnut-sided Warbler  1
> Blackpoll Warbler  2     One singing male.
Another observed
> Black-throated Blue Warbler  16     All males
> Pine
Warbler  3
> Yellow-rumped Warbler  22
> Yellow-throated Warbler  4
Black-throated Green Warbler  1
> Yellow-breasted Chat  2
> Chipping Sparrow
> Swamp Sparrow  2
> White-throated Sparrow  1
> Summer Tanager  1
Scarlet Tanager  2
> Northern Cardinal  18
> Rose-breasted Grosbeak  4
Indigo Bunting  9
> Red-winged Blackbird  2
> Common Grackle  1
Brown-headed Cowbird  7
> Orchard Oriole  2
> Baltimore Oriole  3
> American
Goldfinch  6

Monday, March 9, 2015

Feb. 2015 Bird Walk Report

 Eight of us walked 2 hrs and saw and/or heard the following.  Our group included two new to Saluda Shoals BirdWalks.  One a more novice birder and one a more experienced birder.  All are welcome because even the most novice may see or hear a bird no one else does.

Please notice that the March 28th walk will gather at the Wetlands area (Cattail Shelter) because there is a big Run starting at the Environmental Center. 

31 species (+2 other taxa) total
Wood Duck
American Black Duck x Mallard (hybrid)
Double-crested Cormorant
Great Blue Heron
Black Vulture
Turkey Vulture
hawk sp   Flew over open area into trees, not spotted in trees. Later flew back over open area and away. Tail was fan-shaped and tips looked a bit frayed. No identifying marks/bands on tail or chest or wings. Bird flew very fast, low, in direct line with little flapping. Considered its being juvenile but nothing concrete to id.
Mourning Dove
Belted Kingfisher
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
Northern Flicker
Eastern Phoebe
Blue Jay
American Crow
Carolina Chickadee
Tufted Titmouse
Brown Creeper
Carolina Wren
Golden-crowned Kinglet
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Eastern Bluebird
Hermit Thrush
American Robin
Brown Thrasher
Northern Mockingbird
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Chipping Sparrow
Field Sparrow
Northern Cardinal

Red-winged Blackbird

Saturday, January 31, 2015

First 2015 Last Saturday Walk has 40 Species Seen/Heard

Here is the report from Jerry, one of the 6 of us who birded from 8 to 11:15 this morning.  His comment and list was so complete, I decided to let him do the work for me.

Comments:     Clear, dry, calm.  26 degs. rising to 46 degs.  I list birds I 
identified going on the monthly park birdwalk--thanks to all for helping find so 
many nice birds!  A three Creeper morning!  Nesting Brown Nuthatches!  A mating 
pair of Barred Owls!
40 species

Canada Goose  2
Wood Duck  4
Mallard  3
Double-crested Cormorant  5
Great Blue Heron  1
Black Vulture  2
Turkey Vulture  2
Red-shouldered Hawk  1
Ring-billed Gull  61
Mourning Dove  9
Barred Owl  2
Red-bellied Woodpecker  6
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker  3
Downy Woodpecker  2
Northern Flicker  2
Eastern Phoebe  5
Blue Jay  6
American Crow  14
Carolina Chickadee  4
Tufted Titmouse  7
Brown-headed Nuthatch  3     One pair excavating a nest hole in one of the dead 
trees near the wetlands where Red-headed Woodpeckers often nest.
Brown Creeper  3
Carolina Wren  7
Golden-crowned Kinglet  1
Ruby-crowned Kinglet  18
Eastern Bluebird  7
Hermit Thrush  5
American Robin  4
Brown Thrasher  1
Northern Mockingbird  1
Orange-crowned Warbler  1
Pine Warbler  3
Yellow-rumped Warbler  9
Chipping Sparrow  55
Song Sparrow  2
Swamp Sparrow  2
White-throated Sparrow  2
Dark-eyed Junco  2
Northern Cardinal  11
American Goldfinch  5
Next monthly walk will be Saturday, February 28, at 8 AM. Meet in the Environmental Center Parking Lot.  I'm there cold, hot, 
rain, wind, or snow.  After all, there'll be birds somewhere! 

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Our last Saturday of December birdwalk was also the Christmas Bird Count for the Lower Saluda Circle.

Irvin P., Steve D., 2 visitors (1 from Colorado), and I birded the morning.  We had 55 species which wasn't bad.

Good views of two Brown Creepers, an Orange-crown Warbler, and a Black and White Warbler were nice.

Now it's January and this month's birdwalk will be the 31st.  As of today, Jan. 20th, both Barred Owls were still in pine trees on the Challenge Course path.  They were in two trees, not sharing the Courtin' Tree, however.

Soon, there'll be just one and the female will be busy with eggs.  We'll see results, hopefully, in a couple of months.

Not much action on the river lately.  Had a couple of Pied Bill Grebes on one solitary walk.  Haven't seen a Red-headed Woodpecker lately either.

A Great Blue Heron that was in the wetlands pond was captured last month and taken to Wildlife rehab after being seen lethargic.  It had fishing line and a bob tangled on leg.  Today, a new Great Blue Heron was in the pond.  This one appeared younger and more skittish.

No matter the weather, I'll be there on Jan. 31st and Feb. 28th....and so on.... to look for birds.  Anyone is welcome to join me.  Remember to bring binoculars, wear appropriate clothing and comfy shoes.  Bug spray's not an issue this time of year but cold can be.

It's still the time to watch hundreds, thousands of Ring-bill Gulls fly over the park from Lake Murray in the early AM and watch them returning before sunset (some start as early as 2:30pm).  Note the darker, larger forms.  Those are Herring Gulls.  Easy to spot.

By the way, Rangers and I have been collected Barred Owl pellets to track their eating patterns.  Volunteer Sue has been creating a chart of bones from these pellets.  Lots of crayfish from the nearby Saluda River but their diet includes birds, mice, shrew, rabbits, and more.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Holidays and Bird Walks

Our November Bird Walk will be Saturday, Nov. 29, at 8 AM.  Yes, that is the Thanksgiving weekend but it's also the last Sat. of the month.

Our December Bird Walk will be Saturday, Dec. 27, at 8 AM.  Yes, that is the Christmas weekend and the last Sat. of the month...

AND it will be the Lower Saluda Christmas Bird Count which includes Saluda Shoals Park.

Those participating in the Christmas Bird Count can assemble at 7 AM and start.  I'll wait for walkers who arrive at 8 AM and we will do a different part of the park.

The male Barred Owl took residence in the courtin' tree on the Challenge Course at end of October.  By our Nov. walk, he will probably have the company of a female.  She'll join him for a bit then leave to build her nest elsewhere in the park.

To see him or them, walk the Challenge Course until you see a yellow ladder next to a tree.  Stand at right angle to the ladder (it is to your right) and look at the Pine directly in front of you.  Scan up the tree until you see one or two brown lumps that may resemble large hornet nests from a distance.  Use the binoculars and you may find eyes staring back down at you.

If you do independent walks in the park and submit sightings on eBird, please ask that a copy be shared with so we can track species better. 

Had excellent viewing of a Northern Harrier over the meadow beside the Environmental Center earlier this month.  Also a Pied Bill Grebe and a Double-Crested Cormorant enjoyed the Saluda River. 

It may get cold so birds may not stir as early but they are there and they have to eat to stay warm so get out and bird whenever you can. 

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

OOPS, Long time, No write!

I apologize for skipping some reports.  All my energy was directed to chairing the Mothers Against Drunk Driving/MADD Walk that was held at Saluda Shoals Park in early April.  Then, there was the energy drain following that.

But walks went on!  Yep, we walked in April, May, June, and July.  April and May had us finding migrating warblers like Cape May, Black throated Blue, Worm-eating, and Chestnut-sided among others.  May and June were the months to enjoy singing Indigo Buntings and Blue Grosbeaks in the meadows, Chimney Swifts, Barn Swallows, and Northern Rough-wing Swallows over the river.

July's walk was on the 26th.  Seven of us were thrilled by the views of a Green Heron in the wetlands pond.  It caught then dropped a crayfish as we watched.  Then it posed for long minutes as it waited to catch something else.  A Ruby-throated Hummingbird joined it atop a twig at one point. 

Across the road at the Eagle's Aerie we saw a Muskrat swimming toward us.  Instead of coming out of the river, it went downstream.  We later stood at an overview along the Greenway and watched its humorous movements.  The Muskrat nudged a turtle off a log then climbed onto the log and ate the moss or lichen growing there.  While there, we also had close views of a Red-shouldered Hawk that landed in a tree hanging over the Saluda River. 

By the way, a review of Bird Walks from July 2013 through June 2014 shows we have seen 108 species in the park.  Next time you visit the park, pick up a Bird Checklist at the counter in the Environmental Center and track what you see. 

Some species begin migrating in July so the August and September walks ought to bring some species we haven't seen since the Spring trek North.