Date/time: Saturday 2022-02-19, 08:00-09:30 Location: Natural Bridges State Park Weather: Chilly (8.3C), as sun hadn't yet risen above the roofs of the houses nearby; very light breeze
For Day 2 of the 2022 Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) I went to Natural Bridges, not suspecting that I would be able to ID and count so many species literally just inside the park boundaries. I ended up dividing my observation period into three locations and spent about half an hour at each.
Observation spot #1: Just inside the park boundary on Delaware Avenue (see map below)
This weekend, 18-21 February 2022, are the four days of the Great Background Bird Count. This is a global community science project in which people go out and document bird life. The beauty of a project like this is that is available to anyone who has a window to the outside. Of course, anybody can look at birds any time. To participate in the official project, people need to add their observations to eBird, which is similar to iNaturalist only specific to birds.
Date/time: Friday 2022-02-18, 09:00-10:00 Location: Younger Lagoon overlook Weather: Sunny, with very slight overcast; no breeze at first, but light breeze after about 09:30
Canada goose (Branta canadensis): 6
Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos): 4 female, 4 male
Bufflehead (Bucephala albeola): 4 female
American wigeon (Mareca americana): 4 female, 5 male
American coot (Fulica americana): 12
Northern harrier (Circus hudsonius): 1
Red-tailed hawk (Buteo jamaicensis): 1
Red-winged blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus): hard to say, but at least 20 lekking away in the field across the lagoon
Osprey (Pandion haliaetus), carrying a fish!: 1
European starling (Sturnus vulgaris): murmuration of ~100
Bewick's wren (Thryomanes bewickii): 1
Song sparrow (Melospiza melodia): 2
Yellow-rumped warbler (Setophaga coronata): 2 male
In addition to this tally of species, which is fine in and of itself but not all that interesting, I did get to see some interactions. The northern harrier is a perennial resident, and I often see it either perched on a fence post across the lagoon or soaring low over the fields. Today the red-tailed hawk was perched on a fence post, and I didn't see the harrier until it flew in several minutes later. The harrier crossed in front of the hawk, flying low, and flushed out a murmuration of starlings. It chased the starlings around for a little while, obviously not hunting them. And as much as I wish starlings hadn't been introduced to North America, the flow of a murmuration is fascinating to watch. Even a small one of about 100 birds is rather impressive. Anyway, the hawk on the fence post watched all this activity for a few minutes and seemed to be rather peeved by all the kerfuffle. It ruffled its feathers and flew off. The harrier flew away later, and the starlings kept up their murmuration until I left.