By Jean Loscalzo
Although the morning started a little on the cool side, the spectacular clear blue sky quickly allowed the sun to warm us up. There was a good turnout of eleven people that met at the Velodrome Parking Lot, the new starting point for this trip. Our intrepid leader, Eric Miller, gathered the troops and we set off to find birds.
Right away there were birds to be seen along the edges of the parking lot, but the sun rising in the east made looking into it difficult. We did get to see at least four BLUE-HEADED VIREOS in the same small tree. RUBY-CROWNED and GOLDEN-CROWNED KINGLETS, PALM WARBLERS, and SPARROWS were also obvious, but the challenge from the sun glare made Eric decide to change locations and try for some different views.
The group headed southeast from the parking lot, skirting around between the back of the playground and the southern edge of the orchard. Here, as in other areas of the park, the devastation of the recent storms was painfully evident. Along this trail we were treated to views of BLACKPOLL and YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLERS, a HOUSE WREN, several EASTERN PHOEBES, and SONG, WHITE-THROATED and SAVANNAH SPARROWS. Continuing into the orchard, we saw a BROWN THRASHER and a couple of PURPLE FINCHES.
We looped back toward the velodrome, and headed west along the trail behind the ball fields. Here we got great looks at several immature WHITE-CROWNED SPARROWS feeding in the brushy edges. In the willow trees in the wildflower meadow, we saw three YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKERS. Over behind the fence of the ballfield at the corner of Kissena & Booth Memorial Blvd (another area many trees had come down), several people were able to get a great look at a RING-NECKED PHEASANT before it hid in the deep vegetation.
Crossing Kissena Blvd (a challenge requiring nerves of steel and split-second timing) the group checked out the marshy area behind the cricket fields. Many were able to get a look at a WILSON'S SNIPE that was flushed up, but some people (I won't mention names, ok, yes I will: Colleen & Jean) were not paying attention and missed the opportunity. Well, there's always next time…
Along the corridor going toward the community garden a "BUDGIE" was spotted, and landed on a fence right next to us. The brilliant colors were admired, and Arie tried to coax the bird to his hand by holding out some crushed nuts. The budgie looked tempted, but was spooked by a loud sound and took off.
Of note for the day was a COMMON RAVEN that flew over us. Also of note was the high number of White-crowned Sparrows (10+), Ruby-crowned Kinglets (55+) and Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers (10+) seen.
In addition, we saw Black Saddlebags and Green Darner Dragonflies, and Monarch, Orange-sulphur, Black Swallowtail, Buckeye and TWO Checkered White Butterflies. The Checkered Whites were definitely a trip highlight, and were life butterflies for several of the participants.
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