A horde of raucous Blue Jays

A horde of raucous Blue Jays

Despite this month’s walks at Otter View Park and the Hurd Grassland taking place in what might be described as the doldrums of winter, we managed to quite a few fun sightings. One of the best came early on at the park when an immature Sharp-shinned that flew past us at eye level before disappearing into a stand of Cedars. Based on its size it was probably a female, which average larger than males.  Other than that, or perhaps because of it, birds were pretty sparse at the park with the exception of the Chickadees, Nuthatches and other regulars. In the marsh we did find a nice set of Red Fox tracks which has crossed  under the boardwalk. And back near the parking lot, there was a nice trail of Weasel tracks leading into a tunnel in the snow at the entrance of a small culvert. Since there were no apparent tracks leading out, we believe the the Weasel may have been still inside.

At the Hurd property we were immediately confronted by a flock of 16 very noisy Blue Jays concentrated around a small hedge near the start of the trail. They remained mostly in that location throughout our walk making us speculate on the possibility that there was a raptor, owl, or another predator hidden in that area. Another neat sighting was of two flocks of Bohemian Waxwings, one of 46 seen flying west, and another 97 that came in from the north a half hour later. The Black-capped Chickadee with a white tail that we posted a picture of last week was briefly spotted in a flock by this observer in almost the same location where it was originally found. Mammal sightings were of a Cottontail Rabbit scampering through the brush, a Red Squirrel sitting on a branch near a hole we presume was its home, and a set of Striped Skunk tracks in the snow. It looked like things might be quiet at Gale’s feeders when we first arrived at them, but as we enjoyed her hospitality, flocks of American Tree Sparrows, Dark-eyed Juncos and Cardinals, as well as a lone Common Redpoll came in to view much to our enjoyment.

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

Our Next walk will take place Saturday, March 9 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