Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Brown Creeper


One of four or five I saw this afternoon. Also found a single ruby-crowned kinglet.

Picking Up Steam

Well, the new arrivals have been showing up at a much faster pace the last few days. Yesterday morning on my walk around the lake, I saw my first Great Blue Heron of the year and a lone Pied-billed Grebe on the lake. I haven't seen either of them since then, so I don't know whether they were just briefly passing through or if they're just hiding very well now. Up near the tennis courts, a small group of Fox Sparrows was foraging in the conifer trees.

Over lunch hour I went out for another walk around the lake and got great looks at a pair of beautiful bright blue Eastern Bluebirds. This is the first time I've personally seen bluebirds at Powderhorn. There were also a good number of Dark-eyed Juncos still hanging out in the vegetation along the shorline.

Last night at dusk, I caught a brief glimpse of a bat flying through the sky.

This morning on my walk, in addition to the proliferation of song sparrows belting out their tunes, I saw my first Eastern Phoebe of the year, as well as a pair of Cooper's Hawks gathering nesting material. Hopefully they'll nest in the park again this year.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Return of the Kinglets

On Saturday morning on my daily walk around the park, I heard the tell-tale high thin zee-zee-zee of a kinglet as I walked by the tennis courts on the top of the hill on the southwest side of the lake. There were at least 4 golden-crowned kinglets flitting through the conifer trees, foraging. With that, I declare spring officially here. They were still in the same area on sunday as well.

On that note, I've found the conifers and brush in the area around the tennis courts to be consistently the best spot in the park to see songbirds. It's a real shame that the park board came through last fall and clearcut all of the underbrush from this area as it was great habitat for migrating warblers, vireos, flycatchers, etc. I'm going to try to keep notes on how many migrating birds I see in this area of the park this year compared to last. I hope it isn't significantly reduced, but I fear it may be.

I also took a trip down to the bass ponds at the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge over the weekend with a couple neighbors. The weather was absolutely gorgeous, and the waterfowl is definitely coming through the area. The spring melt has pushed the water level up to at least 10 feet above its normal level, which resulted in a bit of flooding of paths and walkways, but we were still able to get through most areas. A brief sampling of sightings: bufflehead (my first), mergansers (both hooded and common), blue-winged teal, killdeer, american coot, and quite a large number of song sparrows.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Song Sparrow, Gulls, Eagles

The lake is teeming with gulls at the moment. They're mostly ring-billed, of course, but there are a few herring gulls mixed in here and there. I love it when we get the flocks of migrating gulls stopping over on their way north. They're so boisterous -- I just love to watch and listen to them "sing".

It's also been a couple days since I saw my first song sparrow of the year. I've only ever seen one at a time, but I suspect there are couple hanging out in the reeds and grasses along the banks. Soon they'll be joined by many others, I'm sure.

On Thursday, a group of 3 bald eagles soared over the park. I was hoping they might stop for a snack at the lake, but alas, they flew right on by.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Wood Ducks and Bats

Yesterday before the cold snap arrived, I saw my first pair of wood ducks on the lake. Walking home in the evening, I saw at least one bat flying around. He seems to be out very early. I hope he finds enough to eat.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

First Gulls of the year

Over the lunch hour, I walked down to the lake and saw the first gulls of the year hanging out on the ice in the middle of the lake. There were only two: 1 ring-billed and 1 herring gull. There also seem to be quite a few American Tree Sparrows hanging out in the reeds and grasses along the lake lately.

Monday, March 15, 2010


Spring is definitely in the air. The water fowl are showing up back in our beloved park. The first mallards of the year showed up at powderhorn on march 8. I saw a pair of very cold-looking ducks huddled near the only little patch of open water on the lake. By the end of the week, there was substantial open water and there are at least 40 mallards on the lake. They were joined by the first group of Canada geese on March 13, and there are still just a few (about 3-4) at the lake so far.

Outside the neighborhood, I went down to black dog lake for a couple hours this beautiful sunday and got a really nice look at a northern shrike and some common mergansers. Other than that, the birding was pretty slow, but the weather was so beautiful that it didn't matter too much.

Winter Recap

oy, this blog has been neglected. Perhaps due to the fact that things have been a bit slow bird-wise over the winter. I've also got a new son now, so it's a bit harder to get out as much as I'd like. But, it's springtime, and things are starting to feel alive, so perhaps I'll resurrect this site for a little while as well.

A quick recap of major sightings since the last post:

At Powderhorn, in addition to the usual suspects, I saw orange-crowned warbler, nashville warblers, kinglets (golden- and ruby-crowned), cackling geese, a variety of sparrows (including white-throated, fox, and american tree sparrow), pileated woodpecker, and a suspected peregrine falcon flying over the lake.

At other locations, I've added the following species to my life list: Lincoln's sparrow, green-winged teal, northern pintail, gadwall, tundra swan, white-crowned sparrow, savannah sparrow, bonaparte's gull, winter wren, rusty blackbird, greater scaup, hooded merganser, common goldeneye, common merganser, long-tailed duck, merlin, northern shrike, and just recently a wilson's snipe.

So perhaps the winter wasn't quite as slow as I thought...