Posted by: atowhee | April 19, 2008

Mac is back at warbler world, Ashland

Wow, and that doesn’t begin to say enough.  Perhaps, whooo-eee.  Mac was back, MacGillivray’s Warbler, a brightly colored male was feeding in cedars along the western edge of North Mountain Park.  He even stopped briefly for this portrait:

Not a great photo on my part but he gave me a frontal view.  Gray hood clearly seen and note the white parentheses that define the eye.  This gorgeous western warbler is a skulker in damp mountain brushland.  Named for William MacGillivray who was the author of most of Audubon’s BIRD BIOGRAPHIES.  MacG was an eminent Scottish naturalist who worked closely with Audubon on the writing and the scienftific descriptions of Audubon’s newly discovered bird species.  Thus he got a warbler namesake even though MacGillivray the man never set foot in the United States nor saw his warbler alive.  this was just the first, best bird-of-the-day.  More to come.

I soon found myself tracking down warblers along Bear Creek.  Yellowthroat here.  Another over there.   Up in the tree an Orange-crowned.  A couple Yellow-rumps.  RC KInglet.  A Kingfisher flies downstream, silently for a change. There went a flycatcher, lost him. American Goldfinches and Siskins at the alder buds.  Lincoln’s Sparrow in low berry tangle.  Another Yellowthroat. Song Sparrow singing.  Got a picture of that Orange-crowned.  Thanks, buddy.

Orange-crowned Warbler







Yellowthroats bouncing around the edge of the little pond.  Red-winged Blackbirds singing, irritated that I’m in their cattail territory.  One male Yellowthroat thinks he has a nesting willow thicket and he’s not happy to hear my pishing.  Here’s his scowl:

I always get the reed in focus, the bird as a blur.  But it wasn’t his fault.  He insisted on being seen and noting my trespassing.  The only actual nest I saw was one furry bag hung in a tree by two Bushtits.  These warblers are too newly arrived to be nesting yet.

Then atop a tree: my first Olive-sided Flycatcher of the year.  Not glamorous but admirable.  They’re having a tough time with lost wintering habitat in Latin America and their numbers are shrinking.  Savor any view you get.  Help protect rainforests.  Besides, any bird savvy enough to have a three-note call that translates as “Quick, three beers!” is my kinda bird.  But he seems much larger than the flycatcher I saw earlier, besides the other one was low in the scrub, not the sort of perch to attract a Olive-sided, a notorious lover of treetops.  Taller the better.  Numerous times I’ve shown an Olive-sided to an anxious eastern birder, through a scope, from a hundred feet or more below the bird’s perch.

I walk the path to the east: more Red-wings, Hermit Thrushes wing flutter on both sides of the trail.  Another Orange-crowned, more Golden-crowned Sparrows, most abundant species of the day.  Another Lincoln.  And another.  Finally one of the local Spotted Towhees.  Lesser Goldfinches, Starlings.  Along one pond’s edge I find a Western Wood-peewee catching gnats over the water.  Later I seee a second one.  Probably the shy flycatcher I’d lost earlier.  Three Crows are mobbing a Raven. I realize that raptors have become scarce lately.  All have nests now, lower profile.  Briefly yesterday I saw a Cooper’s Hawk as it moved through trees along the creek just off the busy Ashland Plaza.  Two Dipper sightings along that Ashland Creek in as many days.  Some locals who are casual birders think the bird’s a myth, never really seen…making me feel like I’m reporting sasquatch sightings.  You just have to look for the little gray stone in the creek that seems to move.

Acorn Woodpeckers laugh further up Bear Creek.  Fox Sparrows. More Yellowthroats.  A Bushtit gleaning his lunch. A churlish Scrub-jay wheezes at me.  A White-crowned Sparrow lurking in the berries.  Then a bold yellow form high in an alder.  My first Bullock’s Oriole of the spring.  Area birders had seen one a few days before in similar habitat. My camera batteries are almost gone.  I foolishly didn’t bring replacements.  Here’s the only shot I could manage despite the bird’s continued co-operation after my camera went blank.

male Bullock’s Oriole










And here’s just one of those Lincoln’s Sparrows:

I like the way he looks you straight in the eye, and his fine-line markings. Great little bird who’ll soon be migrating out of the Bear Creek Valley.

One final note: three Band-tailed Pigeons overflew the park while I was there.  I’ve heard their baritone cooing uphill from our house.  If it ever warms up again I’ll go looking and listening for nesting spot.  Did I mention it was below forty degrees this morning, snowing by the time I got home for lunch.  The birds were definitely conviced it’s spring despite this weather.


Location:     North Mountain Park
Observation date:     4/19/08
Notes:     O/s Fly, oriole and Macgillivray’s were first sightings for me this spring.  Surprised at the density of Lincoln’s Sparrows.  So was the eBird software, it made me double check the Lincoln’s count and the Wood-peewee, which doesn’t show up on the ordinary eBird checklist for this area?  Go figure.
Number of species:     35

Mallard     2
California Quail     1
Band-tailed Pigeon     3
Anna’s Hummingbird     1
Belted Kingfisher     1
Acorn Woodpecker     2
Northern Flicker (Red-shafted)     2
Olive-sided Flycatcher     1
Western Wood-Pewee     2
Western Scrub-Jay     4
American Crow     3
Common Raven     1
Black-capped Chickadee     1
Bushtit     1
White-breasted Nuthatch     1
Ruby-crowned Kinglet     3
Hermit Thrush     10
European Starling     14
Orange-crowned Warbler     3
Yellow-rumped Warbler     9
MacGillivray’s Warbler     1
Common Yellowthroat     11
Spotted Towhee     1
Fox Sparrow     2
Song Sparrow     3
Lincoln’s Sparrow     12
White-crowned Sparrow     7
Golden-crowned Sparrow     23
Red-winged Blackbird     8
Brewer’s Blackbird     2
Bullock’s Oriole     1
Purple Finch     1
Pine Siskin     7
Lesser Goldfinch     8
American Goldfinch     2

This report was generated automatically by eBird v2(





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