Oak Canyon Community Park
Ring-necked Duck, Hermit ThrushTotal: 2
Another simple visit to a nearby location today. I certainly had hope that the duck pond would one day hold something more wild, as opposed to the hundreds of domestic (and probably wild) Mallards there.
Since the start a few Yellow-rumped Warblers (all Audubon's) had been flitting about in the maple sp. trees around the park, but only one was really picture friendly, and it deserved some pictures.
At the back of the lake is a patch of reeds. While too small to be anything larger than a micro-habitat, migrating wetland birds will flock to these sites like moths to a light. During Canada an even smaller patch of reeds managed somehow to home a Marsh Wren and a Wilson's Snipe during such a time period. As a general rule, most reed-inhabiting are very stubborn, and even if the patch of reeds is no more than a square metre you would literally have to pull out whatever it is to actually get it to move. Obviously I wouldn't do that, but there are other tricks.
Pishing; little skulking birds are very curious. And it doesn't have to be "pishing". Any clicks, or whistles even have the tendency to do the job. It depends on the bird. Pishing is simply making squeaking sounds via pursed lips. And it works. It really does work. Within seconds a silent patch of reeds with only the rustling of nearby trees to be heard, came the alarm call of a Common Yellowthroat, which shortly escaped its cover and into a bush nearby to see where the sound was coming from (which normally happens during its flight when it can see everything). But that is normally all you get. There are three things that can happen:
3-The bird jumps to an exposed perch where it can get a good look and stays there provided you don't move.
Option 3 is always the best, but it doesn't happen that often. Option 2 depends on many factors. If the bird can see you perfectly fine by simply putting its eye against a gap in the leaves, then don't expect it to fly out. The best way to get Option 3 is to try and hide yourself. If you bird can't see you then it is still curious, and it will keep coming out until it does.
I have seen Common Yellowthroats before, but it is not a bird to shun. It's rather attractive if you can get a good look at it (which rarely happens...).
There was little else around here. There were no Marsh Wrens, Nelson's Sparrows or Soras (at least not that I could see/hear) in the reeds this time around, so I decided to run through some other parts of the park I had not really had a detailed look around yet.
A short walk in the forest behind the lake revealed a charming little creek, complete with yellow-leaved trees, partly-leafless trees. It was a genuine autumn sight, and if I didn't only have my telephoto lens I would have taken some pics of it.
It was well-lit, and the trees were perfect. So I decided to do a bit of migrant surveying. I stood around for about two minutes, heard nothing, so started to try a bit of pishing. After a few seconds I was alerted to a rustle in a bush beside me, and sure enough something was perched there.
I decided to call off the search, because I had some good shots as it is, and chances are it had skulked its way to the other side of the forest by now, though I did hear some whistling calls that were very reminiscent of a european Blackbird nearby and can't have come from anything else.
Seconds later a decently-sized Accipter (default around here is Cooper's) had flown right over my head and landed into a patch of trees. If it stayed a second longer I could have got my first ever good look at these elusive forest hawks, but it was not to be. This is the second I have seen so far, and the first I saw was also here. The Cooper's has a much larger cousin known as the Sharp-shinned, which occur here as uncommon winter migrants, but are virtually inseparable save for the shape of their (frequently molting...) tail and overall size. If I had to estimate, I'd say there was a 15% chance it was a Sharp-shinned, which is another bird I have yet to see. It definitely seemed big, but if it was then it would be on my missed birds list, which I do not like to add to!
United States of America: California
Oak Canyon Community Park
30 minutes around Duck pond, and 30 minutes in water park area.
Published in Atlas
Lifer New for site
Males have attained breeding plumage now.
Males and females. Fairly skittish.
Appeared to be yellow-shafted or hybrid, but flew off very quickly.
Found by pishing.
Dendroica coronata auduboni
Yes, just one....