Looking at Blackbirds while standing in fresh powder at the Hurd Property

A surprise three-inch blanket of snow greeted seven observers for this months wildlife walk at Otter View Park and the Hurd Grassland. It was still overcast and flurrying a bit when we started out but that meant the snow was too fresh to reveal any interesting tracks. Crows were very active and calling in the trees around the trees. The marsh was surprisingly empty of blackbirds, though we did see a few Red-winged Blackbirds and Grackles passing overhead. On the Otter Creek we found a Male and Female Mallard and a pair of Canada Goose which are likely going to nest nearby. A Muskrat was also seen feeding while sitting on a snag of logs in the river. Other birds were hard to come by probably having been driven to feeders by the weather.

At the Hurd Property we had evidence of those feeder birds with a good number of finches and Blue Jays found around the houses at the start of the trail. Down in the field things were mostly quiet, though we did spot a soaring Coopers Hawk. As we progressed, the sun came out and with it the songs of the birds. Cardinals and Titmice were persistent singers and flocks Goldfinches were doing their flight songs overhead. We spotted large flocks of mixed blackbirds, Grackles and Red-wings, in the trees along the ledge from a distance, but as we got close to them they had dropped down into the shrub. I was just about to lament the fact that we weren’t going to get a chance to scan the flock for oddities when the it spectacularly erupted out of the brush just above our heads, landing again in trees close by. Among that group we were able to find a single female Cowbird, a first-of-year bird for many in the group. We rounded up our walk again looking at bird feeders in the area finding American Tree Sparrow, Dark-eyed Junco and a Downy Woodpecker on a block of suet.

All our bird sightings have been input to eBird and full checklists can be viewed at the following links:
Otter View Park
Hurd Grassland

Our Next walk will take place Thursday April12 at 8:00 AM. Meet at the parking area of Otter View Park at the intersection of Weybridge St. and Pulp Mill Bridge Road.

– Ron Payne