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24 March 2010 @ 10:08 pm
Return to Sarsaparilla Trail  

The temperature dropped on Saturday and was still on the cool side on Sunday. Although these low temperatures were by no means unseasonable, they were quite a disappointment after the wonderfully warm week we'd just enjoyed. So it was back to wearing the winter coats and hats and even gloves in the mornings, which were still below zero degrees.

I spent most of Saturday running around, so I wasn't able to get out birding; however, while visiting the Richmond Nursery looking for flower seeds, the first thing I heard when I got out of the car was the musical, cheerful song of a Song Sparrow! He was the first one that I'd seen this year, and as a result of this sighting I planned to go out on Sunday to look for more.

American Robin

I started the day by driving around some of the agricultural areas in the west end, hoping to see not only the usual agricultural species, but also new migrants such as Killdeer, Northern Harriers and Turkey Vultures. I didn't see any of these birds, but there were lots of Red-winged Blackbirds and grackles around. I was finally able to photograph a few red-wings by staying inside my car and shooting through the open window.

Red-winged Blackbirds

I stopped at a few other places on my way back, including the Gray Partridge area on Maple Grove Road. I didn't find the partridges, but a couple of Song Sparrows were singing from the shrubs near the water, and a flock of American Tree Sparrows were flitting from tree to tree. I haven't seen very many tree sparrows this winter, and wondered if their presence meant they were heading back north.

My last stop of the day was Sarsaparilla Trail. Someone had put a small feeder up near the entrance to the woods, and a few chickadees and a Red-breasted Nuthatch were busy carrying seeds away. When I walked past the feeder, I heard the sharp call of a Hairy Woodpecker, and looked just in time to see him at the feeder too!

Most of the snow was gone from the woods, though a few large patches still remained where the sun couldn't reach through the trees. While walking along I came noticed this large fungus just off the trail and stopped to take a photo.

Unknown Fungus

While I was photographing the fungus, I became aware of some high-pitched calls and a sweet, almost chickadee-like song. The song wasn't familiar, but the high-pitched zee-zee-zee calls were: kinglets! Golden-crowned Kinglets! I was delighted to see these busy little songbirds busy foraging in the evergreens high above my head. I didn't even try to take any pictures because they were so high up, and it was fairly dark in the trees where they were.

I went along my way, heading for the large pond at the back of the trail. Before I got there, I noticed this stump just off the path, and was intrigued by the hole near the bottom. I think it's neat to see the ground behind the stump through the long, narrow hole.

Rotting Stump

I walked to the observation area at the end of the boardwalk and was disappointed by how few birds there were around. The pond was mostly frozen, although there was a lot of open water near the edges. As I was watching, two Canada Geese flew in and landed quite close to me. They actually landed on the edge of ice, then walked forward into the water. I was finally able to get some better shots of these lovely birds. Nothing says spring like the return of the Canada Geese!

Canada Goose

The two geese eventually swam into the cattails, where I left them to forage in peace.

Canada Geese

On my way back to the parking lot I saw another fungus which caught my attention, this one white in colour with a yellow rim. It was attached to a small branch on the ground together with a smaller fungus which was entirely golden-yellow in colour. Although I enjoy photographing the different types of fungi that I see, I don't know yet if I want to delve too deeply into the subject given how difficult they are to identify and how many species there are even in just a small region! I actually took a course on mosses, lichens and fungi in university, and though I remember the basic biology of this kingdom, I don't remember anything about the species that we studied.

Unknown Fungus

As I was leaving the woods, I heard more kinglets in the area just beyond the picnic shelter. When I went to investigate, I found not only a single junco on the ground, feeding on the seed someone left behind, but also this robin in a tree!

American Robin

The kinglets flew deeper into the woods, but I was happy when this robin remained on his branch. Usually when I set out to photograph robins, I find them skittish and completely uncooperative. This one, however, just sat on the branch and preened his feathers, completely ignoring me. I even stood up on the picnic table to get a shot of him at eye level and still he didn't seem to mind my proximity.

American Robin

Although the day was cool and cloudy, it wasn't a bad outing at all. I finally got some decent photographs of some early spring migrants, and I saw my first kinglets of the year. And although the junco wasn't a year bird for me, I haven't seen or heard any at Sarsparilla this past winter, which makes me believe that he, too, was a spring migrant rather than an overwintering individual. It's great, too, to see the all the snow melting, although it will be a little bit longer before everything starts turning green again. Still, spring is definitely here, and I can't wait to see what shows up next!

Tara62tara62 on April 1st, 2010 02:09 pm (UTC)
It's neat how distinctive the red is on the red wing blackbird. The fungus were quite scary! I don't know if I've ever seen any that big (*cough*)!