Posted by: atowhee | August 16, 2009

Birding sweet spot

We hit birding’s sweet spot today.  It wasn’t just the total of 42 species in three pleasant hours of walking along in perfect weather.  It was sweetened by the very brief season we are now experiencing here in Ashland.  This is Blackberry Summer.  The much-maligned invasive Himalayan blackberry is rampant here and beloved of birds and amblers alike.  Native plant purists descry its spread and robustness, the birds seem to primarily notice the fruit in season, the protection of the brambles year round. The sun-warmed blackberries near the creeks are most luscious, seductive in a way that is probably illegal in several states. Fructose raised to a transcendant height.  The birds have an even keener eye for the ripe ones than mere humans.  And I watched in awe as a Western Tanager slurped down a berry as  big as my thumb, protected from human intervention by several yards of stiff berry canes with their protective thorns on sharp display.

Fellow birder, Steve Runnels, and I did manage to get our quota of the savory, sun-ripened berries along the way.  But we made no notable decrease in the berry supply that awaits the pleasure of the tanagers, Black-headed Grosbeaks, American Robins and incoming Cedar Waxwings that we saw along Ashland and Bear Creeks today.  This was a bird walk that begins at the Ashland Dog Park.  Before we even got out of the parking lot the day began.  I took this photo from the front seat of my car:SHARPIE 8-15-09

Sharp-shinned Hawk looking over the parking lot.  I took this as a sign of raptor dispersal.   I’ve not seen a Sharpie along the Greenway all summer.   Such a delicate accipiter compared to the robust Goshawks I’ve been seeing in the mountains.SHARPIE OVR SHLDR






RB SAP  8-16Red-breasted Sapsucker.  My only previous RB Sap sighting along the Ashland section of Greenway was in March.  Other unexpected birds: Great Egret, also seen once previously in March; Sharpie, only my fourth sighting there; Waxwings, not seen there since mid-May; Cassin’s Vireo, only sighting in this location; Kingfisher, not seen since April.

PUFI YNG  8-16Young Purple Finch, this species will in the area all winter.





SCRUFF JAY  8-15-09This Scrub-Jay today was more a “Scruff-Jay.”





BLU HRN STARE 8-16-09BLU HRN FACE  8-16-09Young Blue Heron, GREAT Blue Heron, if you please. Perched along Ashland Pond.BLPH 8-16

One of two Black Phoebes at Ashland Pond.



 Location:     Bear Creek Greenway–Ashland
Observation date:     8/16/09
Number of species:     35

Mallard     4,         Great Egret   1
Turkey Vulture     4
Sharp-shinned Hawk     1
Rock Pigeon     15
Mourning Dove     6
Vaux’s Swift     1
Anna’s Hummingbird     2
Acorn Woodpecker     6
Red-breasted Sapsucker     1
Downy Woodpecker     1
Northern Flicker (Red-shafted)     1
Western Wood-Pewee     2
Cassin’s Vireo     1
Western Scrub-Jay     8
American Crow     12
Common Raven     4
Tree Swallow     10
Barn Swallow     40
Black-capped Chickadee     1
Bushtit     12
White-breasted Nuthatch     1
American Robin     6
Wrentit     2
European Starling     50
Wilson’s Warbler     1
Western Tanager     25
Spotted Towhee     1
Black-headed Grosbeak     10
Red-winged Blackbird     1,   Brown-headed Cowbird     4
Purple Finch     4
House Finch     6
Lesser Goldfinch     15
American Goldfinch     6
House Sparrow     3

Location:     Ashland Pond
Observation date:     8/16/09
Number of species:     32

Wood Duck     3
Mallard     15
Great Blue Heron     1
Green Heron     1
Turkey Vulture     4
Red-tailed Hawk     1
Mourning Dove     2
Vaux’s Swift     1
Belted Kingfisher     1
Acorn Woodpecker     1
Downy Woodpecker     1
Northern Flicker (Red-shafted)     1
Western Wood-Pewee     1
Black Phoebe     2
Western Scrub-Jay     8
American Crow     6
Common Raven     1
Tree Swallow     4
Barn Swallow     15
Black-capped Chickadee     2
White-breasted Nuthatch     3
Bewick’s Wren     1
American Robin     4
Wrentit     3
Western Tanager     14
Spotted Towhee     3
Black-headed Grosbeak     5
Red-winged Blackbird     8,    Purple Finch     2
House Finch     6
Lesser Goldfinch     6
American Goldfinch     2


  1. Gorgeous great heron shots, Harry! Nice job!

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