Monday, December 17, 2012

Christmas Bird Count 2012

I participated in the Christmas Bird Count (CBC) for Philadelphia on Saturday morning. The guy who runs it for Pennypack Park asked me to cover a section that I know pretty well between Veree and Pine Rds.  We met at the Environmental Center at 7 AM for coffee and donuts (and a few Milkbones for Roxy too).  Brian asked if I would take a new birder along with me which was fine with me.  The new birder showed up with new binoculars and was raring to go - but not with me.  She wanted to go all day and go to a section that had more ground to cover and more birds and . . . well, she wanted to go with people she knew.  Oh well, Roxy and I had a great time anyway.  By ourselves.  Sigh.

The new birder probably saw alot of birds with her friends and new binoculars.  Roxy and I saw a good number but nothing out of the ordinary except the Winter Wren that sat up and chattered at us by the bird blind on Bloomfield Rd.  I thought it was strange that this very secretive birds was so upset by me and Roxy. Then I found out why this little guy was so upset - a Cooper's Hawk came screaming by us in hot pursuit of another little bird.  The two of them weaved in and out of tree branches.  The little bird flying for it's life and the Cooper's Hawk hoping to get a meal.  I didn't see the ending. I have no idea which bird was successful.  The Winter Wren disappeared back into the bushes without another sound.  And without being photographed.

I wandered over to the creek by the Pine Road parking area to count Mallards which was quite boring until I noticed a Wood Duck hanging around too.  Here is the female:

Female Wood Duck

Here is the male.  This is arguably one of the most stunning ducks anywhere.  These guys are flamboyant to say the least.

Male Wood Duck

These ducks figured out what the Mallards have known for years - hanging out at the parking lot gets you free handouts. I got this shot of the male and female Wood Ducks by pretending to throw food into the creek (cheating, I know).

Here is the happy couple swimming together.  There was another Wood Duck hanging around but this guy would not let it close to his gal.

Wood Ducks
There is a really great Nature program on TV right now called "An Original Duckumentary" which features the Wood Ducks as the stars of the show. I highly recommend finding it on PBS or On Demand and watching it.  The videos are stunning and story is well done.  You'll laugh and ooh and ahh for an hour.

I was treated to a nice view of a Fox Sparrow at the bird blind near the Environmental Center.  This is the best photo that I have of a Fox Sparrow ever. You can tell why they are called Fox sparrows by the color.

Fox Sparrow

There were no shortage of woodpeckers on this year's count.  I had a total of 7 Downy and 4 Hairy Woodpeckers. Here are a few shots of female Hairy Woodecker that sat on that branch for awhile sunning herself. You can tell it's a female since she has no red on the back of her head.

Female Hairy Woodpecker
I snapped this next photo just as a second Hairy Woodpecker flew through the frame.  Not in focus, but still neat. 
Hairy Woodpeckers

We also got a great look at everyone's favorite, this Pileated Woodpecker that flew in to the Environmental Center area just before I was ready to leave. Click on the photo to enlarge it. Check out the hole he is chiseling in that tree! You can tell that this is a male by the red "mustache".

Pileated Woodpecker

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