A Tree Swallow standing guard over a nest box

A Tree Swallow standing guard over a nest box

The ten people who attended this month’s walk at Otter View Park and the Hurd Grassland started off our trek with a cacophony of Grackles, Starlings and Red-winged Blackbirds in the OVP parking lot. As we headed down the trail we heard singing of a Carolina Wren, a sound that has become very regular on these walks. Down on the boardwalk, the singing of a newly returned Swamp Sparrow led to what was probably the most exciting observation of the day. The sight of the quick flit of what was presumably a Swamp sparrow into the cattails prompted me to attempt to “pish” the bird back out into view. But the response to my “phh-phh-phh” was not a sparrow hopping up into the open, but was instead the descending “chh-chh-chh-chh-chh” call of a Virginia Rail, pleasant surprise for everyone. Two Osprey were seen overhead, possibly going in the direction of a potential nesting site in Weybridge. And at the end of the boardwalk, the lack of any significant waterfowl was more than made up for by the appearance of three Golden-crowned Kinglets in nearby shrubs which cooperatively came within a few yards of us.

Seven people continued on to the Hurd Grassland where we saw a Tree Swallow sitting on a power line overlooking a nest box, and a pair of Bluebirds entering the box we saw them at during the last walk. In the fields we  found three Eastern Meadowlarks singing from the trees and flying overhead giving us all great views. Eastern Phoebes seemed to be everywhere we went hunting from shrubs and fenceposts, Spring Peeper frogs were heard calling from near a pond and two Red-tailed Hawks were observed soaring overhead. Other new arrivals of a “heard but not seen” nature were a beautifully singing Fox Sparrow and White-throated Sparrow doing its “sweet Canada” song.  We ended our walk looking at Gale Hurd’s feeders where we enjoyed the site of male American Goldfinches almost completely molted into their bright yellow plumage.

American Goldfinch with bright new feathers

American Goldfinch with fresh new feathers

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, May 11 at 7:00 AM. Meet at the parking area of Otter View Park at the intersection of Weybridge St. and Pulp Mill Bridge Road. Please note the earlier start time!

– Ron Payne