Journal archives for March 2019

March 14, 2019

Hopkins Pond-Journal Entry #3

I decided to head out to do some birding on Wednesday, March 13th over spring break. I visited Hopkins Pond in Haddonfield, New Jersey at 2:28 until 4:00 pm. The weather was a very nice 51 degrees, it was sunny for the first hour which is when I saw the most birds, and then after that the clouds came in making it a little cooler outside with less bird activity. The habitat consisted of a small pond with some trees/wooded area and a walking path around the entire circumference of the pond. Through a small patch of trees on one side of the ponds, there is a road and elementary school about 50 ft. away which added some occasional noise of screaming children and cars to the otherwise quiet and serene pond ecosystem.
Before I even got to the entrance of the pond walking trail, I spotted a huge flock of Canada geese in a field right next to the entrance. There were about 12 walking around, and it seemed as if they were foraging around in the grass. They all seemed to be doing the same exact thing, yet they were not really interacting with each other. When I first started walking through the woods, I heard the familiar cackle of the White-breasted Nuthatch, which sounded very close to where I was standing. I looked up in a nearby tree and immediately spotted two of them, hopping together from tree to tree. It seemed as if they were cackling to each other, and one immediately followed the other into its previous position if the first one moved. They seemed to be unusually small compared to White-breasted Nuthatches i have seen in the past, but it could have just seemed that way because they were very high up in the tree.
I then walked down to the edge of the water and after a few minutes a pair of Mallards swam leisurely by me, so close that if I reached down I could probably touch them. I sat down to observe them at a deeper level and to see how they interacted with each other. There was one male and one female and both were synchronized together and moving at a very slow pace. I did not hear them make any noises, but they were swimming as close to shore as possible and seemed to be foraging in the mud with their beaks. I found it very interesting to compare the plumage and coloring of the male and female of the same species. As I watched them their very different and distinct coloring was making a lot of sense to me. The male Mallard needed his bright purple and green coloring in order to attract a mate. The female on the other hand was very dull brown with spots and looked almost like the colors of dead leaves or twigs. This would make sense, because it could act as a form of camouflage in the brush when the ducks are nesting.
As I trekked further into the muddy swampy area, the large wingspan of the Turkey Vulture caught my eye. I looked up and immediately spotted another one trailing right behind it. They were both soaring overhead, and appeared to be doing loops over and underneath each other. They seemed very in sync, and they were definitely looking for prey as they glided around and dove through the trees.
During my walk, I also heard the Black-capped Chickadee call a few times, but I was not able to spot where the call was coming from. I saw and heard the shriek of multiple Blue jays, two of which I saw hopping around and perching on branches in a large bush and tree. I saw and heard three very small Tufted Titmice, none of which were together in the trees. I saw four American Robins on my walk which were darting from bush to bush seemingly in a small flock. They seemed like they were definitely traveling in a pack. My most exciting observation by far was towards the end of my walk. As I was about to leave the trail entrance to the pond, I heard the loud clicking of the Belted Kingfisher. I ran back to the pond and was able to follow the call to a nearby tall tree at the water's edge. I had never seen one before while knowing what it was, and it seemed a little larger than I had pictured it being.
I did not have much luck with attracting any birds with the mini-activity, I can see how if done correctly a bird could mistake the “pishhhh” noise for either another bird or bug. When I did it, it seemed like I was too close to the birds and they all flew away and seemed scared by the noise. I tried this activity on both the American robins and the tufted titmice that I observed.

Posted on March 14, 2019 17:51 by kaschmec kaschmec | 8 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

March 07, 2019

Oakledge Park- Journal Entry #2

On Sunday March 3rd it was a very sunny and warmish(36 degrees F) day. There was no wind with only a few clouds in the sky. We decided to take a trip to Oakledge Park in Burlington, VT for our second bird observation journal outing. It was in the morning, around 11 am.
The first bird we observed while first starting to walk and explore around Oakledge Park was a black-capped chickadee. We identified this individual by sight, as it was rustling around in the nearby tree. Its distinct black and white coloring caught our eye right away after hearing the branches shaking around, and then we were able to identify it. We assumed that the chickadee could have been engaging in this behavior of moving around in the brush to keep warm while looking for lingerings seeds on or below the tree that may have fallen onto the ground. After we observed this bird for a few minutes we heard the distinct call of another nearby Black-capped chickadee. We hypothesized that these two birds could have been communicating about food availability, and perhaps the one we heard found some seeds on the grounds. At night on colder days, it is common for this species to engage in facultative hypothermia to save their energy and conserve body heat so they do not freeze to death.
The next bird we observed was the Northern Cardinal. It was exhibiting similar behavior as the last one we saw on our first outing in Centennial. It was hopping from branch to branch up and down and taking short flights in a patch of pine trees. This is where we saw our first snag close by the patch of pine trees. Surprisingly there were no real cavities in the snag. This could be due to the fact that it was very small in size, about 10 feet and no significant species could make this their home.
While walking around on the outskirts of the trees closest to the water, a Herring gull appeared over our heads and was gliding through the air. It was easy to determine the wing type of the species, high aspect, while it was soaring overhead. During this time walking on the outer edge of the trees, we did not see many dead snags with cavities. We observed six in total, all which were deeper in the woods. Four of these snags had cavities in the trees. We tapped on one of these trees that seemed like it had died quite some time ago, and had many big holes. Unfortunately, nothing poked its head out at us, so we thought that maybe the species that had once resided there had left, or the holes were caused by termites that were no longer there. Snags provide great habitat for not only birds such as woodpeckers, but also provide a home for small mammals such as squirrels, especially in wintertime.
All of the birds we saw at Oakledge seemed to be very active which is unusual in the winter. We thought this was probably because of the warmer weather that we were experiencing that day. Instead of having to conserve their body heat that day because of freezing temperatures, the birds seemed to be focusing on feeding and taking advantage of the warmth and sun-filled day.

Posted on March 07, 2019 20:35 by kaschmec kaschmec | 4 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment