Posted by: atowhee | April 14, 2013

DAWN AT NORTH MOUNTAIN PARK

Click here for gallery of North Mountain birds.
640AM. I arrive at North Mountain Park to see the day begin. The sun pretends to rise but it’s still somewhere below the eastern mountain horizon. That horizon itself is obscured by thick, gray-blue clouds. The temp is in the mid-30s. No wind.
I am getting out of my car as I hear the first complaining whine from a Scrub-Jay. Some Starlings in the large walnut tree by the Nature Center give me their shrillest wolf whistle. “Look out, predatory biped on the loose.”
White and Golden-crowned Sparrows are working along the parkling lot gutter and spread along the baseball diamond backstop. Out in left field: a team of Brewer’s Blackbirds. They also watch the diamond from bleacher seats, the rooflines of homes across the street from the park.
655AM. My first pair of Orange-crowned Warblers are in the trees lining the street. A bright male Lesser Goldfinch joins them, interested in the new buds, not insects.
Far to the east I hear a lone male California Quail calling. “Uh-uh, uh-uh, uh-uh.”
Honking Canada Geese fly over, en route from one golf course to the next, I guess. Three Great Blue Herons also fly downstream over Bear Creek. They form a tight triangle of morning hunters en route to the hunting grounds. In the upper ponds a single male Ring-necked Duck and a single Pied-billed Grebe nervously move to the far reeds as I appear in their sight.
Red-winged Blackbirds are in the cattails. “Con-ker-eeee.”
I see my first Turkey Vulture teetering across the sky on the chill air, waiting for more sun and more updrafts.over beyong the Nature Center somebody plays a tabla. It’s a Downy working on one of his drumming spots.
700AM As I walk toward the wooden barn and Bear Creek there’s a flock of about three dozen White-crowned Sparrows and a couple Lesser Goldfinches in low shrubs and weeds. I hear my first Robin whinney of the day. In the creek itself only a single Mallard can be seen. A Kestrel soars past and disappears into the trees downstream.
I cross North Mountain Boulevard and walk past the small gravel ponds that parallel Bear Creek. More sparrows. This time at least three are Lincoln’s. This is a finely marked, handsome bird. Gray background color on its neatly marked face. A buffy chest with more fine dark lines on it. Nothing coarse or gross like you find on Song or Fox Sparrows. All this decoration was done with the finest of pen nibs in nature’s pen box. Before today I had seen only one Lincoln’s this spring, that about a week ago. This is a wave of the little birds, all destined to nest in mountain meadows after snow is gone.
It is not quiet. Several Red-wings sing from the willows. Treetopping Starlings whistle and cluck. A Robin has begun his four-stanza song. The drumming woodpecker is still on the tabla. An occasional Golden-crowned Sparrow sings out his plantive three-note blues. “Ohhh poor meee.”
A pair of Black-capped Chickadees are working the creekside trees. Lower down a flash of yellow. It is my first female Common Yellowthroat of the day, of the season even.
The redbuds and currant bushes are in full spring color.
At the upper ponds I locate the Downy hammering on a tree trunk. Makes my head ache to watch.
Back in the main park a female Ring-necked Duck has the lower pond to herself. Another Yellowthroat. It is still gray and chilly but Tree Swallows have now begun to whirl and swirl overhead.
Back near the Nature Center a Ruby-crowned Kinglet is in the large fruit tree next to the toilets. A male Anna’s Hummingbird buzzes to and from the nectar feeder on the center’s porch. More than one Robin is now in voice, Starlings clatter about in the taller trees. The swallows seem to be silent overhead.

720AM. There are now several Orange-crowned Warblers playing tag in the top of the huge walnut. I turn my back on them and head down the asphalt walk toward the east end of the park. In the path-side bushes a House Finch sings. A single Pine Siskin is with some Lesser Goldfinches. At one point I see three Lincoln’s Sparrows in a single bush less than seven feet around. More of them jump up from the tall grass as I pass, then dart into nearby bushes. Somewhere far upstream a Mourning Dove is airing his sadness.
I reach the small stream that flows north into Bear Creek. It borders playing fields on both sides. Its narrow border of trees is full of birds. Orange-crowned Warblers are most numerous. On the lawn the Zonotrichia are joined by delicate Lincoln’s Sparrows trying to look like the big boys. A Spotted Towhee sees me, snarls and flies away to the brush. Moving up the little stream toward the power station: a Black Phoebe fly-catching, Hermit Thrush (one…two…three), my first Yellow-rumped Warblers of the day, two Purple Finches, and then one sings a single sweet song and departs. Somewhere in the nearby housing a Eurasian Collared-dove is mooing. Starlings walk the soccer field, whistling as they work.
The Oregon grape is in full bloom, the willows nearly leafed out.
I hear my tWestern Meadowlark song of the day. The bird is unseen, somewhere out on the playing fields to the east. Not sitting on a post where it would be seen. A Robin hops past.
In a small ponderosa my first Black-throated Gray Warbler of the season is feeding. His pluamge is a very crisp black and white.
750AM At the parking lot next to the power station I spot Forrest English, another birder come to see the show. Later he points me to the pair of Western Kingbirds who once again are centering their seasonal kingdom at the power station with its many high spires and great vantage points. A kingbird is ever vigilant and no bird or other creature moves through its realm without appraisal, and an aerial attack if warranted. It is such behavior that leads to the family name of “tyrrant flycatcher.” The only judge of when war is to be waged is the Kingbird itself. They are the first migrant flycatchers I’ve seen in Oregon this year. Phoebes are hardy and don’t leave for winter.
A male Yellowthroat flies along the creek, sticking to the lower branches of the willows. Just on altitude alone he’s different from the many Orange-crowns who can be perfectly happy fifty feet off the ground. They, too, have bright, fresh new feathers for spring’s fashion show, going on all around us in southern Oregon.
A Wrentit sings once as the sun makes a mighty effort and actually shines through the clouds for a few moments. Later I will see a single Wrentit in the berry tangle on the eastern edge of the park.
Along one third base line a flock of White-crowned Sparrows feed, with a few Golden-crowns and a pair of fesity male Spotted Towhees who get into a game of chase and hurry off. Along the left field line a Savanna Sparrow briefly perches in the fence mesh, a familiar sight though this bird will certainly not remain in the park for the summer. At the eastern end of the park the walkway turns south. Here a trio of Hermit Thrush are feeding along the path. They vanish as soon as they spot me.
I turn back toward the Nature Center. Brewer’s Blackbirds are bathing in the small creek which must be about 40-degrees, no warmer surely. Your skin tingles with even a quick touch. There is little solar energy for drying off wet feathers.
815AM. Not all the gold in the willows is fresh leaf color. There are nervous Orange-crowned Warblers, there are some goldfinches, then I spot one bird with a dark face. It turns out to be my first gray-headed Nashville Warbler of the season. A local birder spotted the first ones in the mountains near here yesterday.
An Acorn Woodpecker laughs in a big oak along Bear Creek. A lone Great Blue Heron flies over. Two Black-capped Chickadees forage in the new willow leaves, hanging upside down. That’s a comfortable mode for these tykes.
Back at the upper ponds a single Oak Titmouse moves along the pond’s edge. In one of the large oaks a White-breasted Nuthatch is at a nest hole that was used by his kind last year. No way to know if this is the same individual nuthatch. The Tree Swallows have increased their numbers though it is only slightly warmner than it was two hours ago.
Two hours: a few hundred birds and 42 species. Plus one birder, a guy flying his toy airplane on the soccer field, gray squirrel and mule deer.

North Mountain Park, Jackson, US-OR. Apr 14, 2013 6:40 AM. 42 species

Canada Goose (Branta canadensis) 6
Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) 3
Ring-necked Duck (Aythya collaris) 2
California Quail (Callipepla californica) X
Pied-billed Grebe (Podilymbus podiceps) 1
Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) 4
Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura) 2
Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura) 4
Anna’s Hummingbird (Calypte anna) 1
Acorn Woodpecker (Melanerpes formicivorus) 2
Downy Woodpecker (Picoides pubescens) 2
American Kestrel (Falco sparverius) 1
Black Phoebe (Sayornis nigricans) 1
Western Kingbird (Tyrannus verticalis) 2
Western Scrub-Jay (Aphelocoma californica) 4
Tree Swallow (Tachycineta bicolor) 50
Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus) 4
Oak Titmouse (Baeolophus inornatus) 1
White-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta carolinensis) 1 working around nest hole
Ruby-crowned Kinglet (Regulus calendula) 3
Wrentit (Chamaea fasciata) 1 singing
Hermit Thrush (Catharus guttatus) 7
American Robin (Turdus migratorius) 4
European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris) 45
Orange-crowned Warbler (Oreothlypis celata) 35OCW5
Nashville Warbler (Oreothlypis ruficapilla) 1
Common Yellowthroat (Geothlypis trichas) 4
Yellow-rumped Warbler (Setophaga coronata) 5
Black-throated Gray Warbler (Setophaga nigrescens) 1
Spotted Towhee (Pipilo maculatus) 4
Savannah Sparrow (Passerculus sandwichensis) 1
Lincoln’s Sparrow (Melospiza lincolnii) 40LINC3
White-crowned Sparrow (Zonotrichia leucophrys) 30
Golden-crowned Sparrow (Zonotrichia atricapilla) 25
Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus) 40
Western Meadowlark (Sturnella neglecta) 1
Brewer’s Blackbird (Euphagus cyanocephalus) 8
Purple Finch (Haemorhous purpureus) 2
House Finch (Haemorhous mexicanus) 1
Pine Siskin (Spinus pinus) 1
Lesser Goldfinch (Spinus psaltria) 12
House Sparrow (Passer domesticus) 4


Responses

  1. […] FOR WRITTEN DESCRIPTION OF THIS MORNING AT NORTH MOUNTAIN PARK. CLICK HERE. atowhee.files.wordpress.com/2013/04/btg-warb-lks.jpg”> Two shots of the Black-throated Gray Warbler. […]


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