BOGS Kirk Pond April 30, 2015
It is November 10, 2015 as I begin writing this. The weather is almost the same as it was on April 30, the day BOGS went to Kirk Pond for our bird walk; quite cool and a mostly a clear sky with scattered white puffy clouds.
We had a very large group that day, and we started by parking at a pullout along Clear Lake Road, to see what could be seen from there.
Most of the way across Kirk Pond we saw a pair of Redhead Ducks, a pair of American Wigeons, and several Pied-billed Grebes.
One of the paired-up Redhead males chased off another one when he came too close to the female.
Don also photographed Cliff Swallows flying low over the surface of the water, and even striking the surface, making a splash, yet somehow able to continue their flight.
We then drove to the parking lot just below the Fern Ridge dam and continued our birding by walking over to the bank of the Long Tom River, a few hundred feet below the dam. There is a small cement ledge less than a foot tall which spans the river and holds back some water. We noticed some fish slithering along trying to swim up the 45 degree angled ledge.
A Great Blue Heron and a Green Heron were taking advantage of the easy feeding oportunity. The Blue Heron was standing in the pool immediately above the ledge, allowing fish to come his way.
The Green Heron was on the far side of the stream, perhaps already satiated.
A pair of Spotted Sandpipers were feeding among the rocks in the middle of the stream. They gave us a good long time to enjoy and photograph them.
We walked across Clear Lake Rd and up to the berm adjacent to the dam. Not too much was seen there, but there were large groups of Cliff Swallows flying low above us and especially above the dam. With all the aerobatic zipping around they do, I decided to aim at the flock with a very short exposure time. That worked well. Then I zoomed in quite a bit and simply took several bursts of photos, trusting to blind luck and the randomness of the birds to put a bird or two in my cameras view. That worked too except for being out of focus. I played around with that, using manual focus to aim far away. Finally I came up with a couple close-up shots which were in focus. On our way down we saw some Cliff Swallow nests which are made of mud, and one nestling was looking out of the opening.
The Cliff Swallow nests are mounted on the bottom surface of the bridge, with openings aiming downwards. One bird's head can be seen sticking out of one of the openings.
We always find Ospreys diving for fish in the stream (Long Tom River) below the dam. Don got a nice sequence of photos of one of them.
Only one is shown here, but the whole sequence is in the slideshow.
The pond shore and woodland trails captured our attention for the rest of the trip. At one point we heard an intriguing bird calling up ahead. Several of us felt that we knew that bird call, myself and Nola for example, and perhaps others, but none of us could come up with the name. It had something of a "strangled" sound that reminded me of a Lewis's Woodpecker, so my hopes strayed in that direction because I love that bird. You can listen to it by clicking the link below. This will open in a new tab in your browser, leaving this page open, next to it.
Audio file from Xeno-Canto website
(recording by Andrew Spencer, made 2009-01-07 11:00 United States Mount Pinos, Kern Co., California)
None of us could get the name of the bird until we saw the bird.
It was perched right in full view at the tippy top of a tall tree in bright sunlight.
License for using this audio file: Creative Commons License for using this audio file
It was a White-breasted Nuthatch.
Click to visit the full Xeno-canto website open to the White-breasted Nuthatch page 1
(To find the particular recording I linked to above, scroll down to near the bottom of the page, to find an 0.08 second recording by Andrew Spencer, made 2009-01-07 11:00 United States Mount Pinos, Kern Co., California)
Usually a bird viewed against a bright sky looks very dark and to photograph it one overexposes the photo to bring out color and detail in the bird. The exception to that is when the bird is white or very light colored. I found I had to UNDEREXPOSE the photos of this bird so that the white feathers would not be too bright and lose all detail; (called "blown highlights" in photographers jargon).
Someone saw an American Kestrel in a nearby tree. Jody and I stayed around trying to get good photographs of it, while the group moved on into the woods on a trail. The Kestrel was preening but had its back to us so it was hard to get its face to show in the photos.
By the time we got going on the trail we could not hear nor see any sign of the group. Not a problem, until we came to a fork in the trail. Still no sound or sight of anyone so we guessed, and followed the trail which hugged the shoreline of Kirk Pond. We figured we couldn't get lost as long as we could see the pond shore.
There were some very shy frogs in a small pool along the trail but once they jumped they did not want to show themselves again, though we waited a while to see.
We also found an Osprey deeply engaged in deciding whether it wanted to break a particular twig off a tree branch to use in making its nest. At first we thought it was tearing apart some rodent, but no.
We had guessed wrong about which trail to take, but it was easy to backtrack all the way to the parking area. We found the group already in the parking area and re-joined them.
If anything of special interest happened as we walked to the other end of the lot, where our cars were parked, it has vaporized from my memory in the six months hence. Back at the river's edge, another, higher weir, had large fish trying to jump over it. Some of them looked like Carp to me. See for yourself.
I think it was back at the lot where our cars awaited us that Don found and photographed a Chipping Sparrow. Jody and I were still playing catch up so I missed this bird. Drat! The Chipping sparrow is one on my list to see / ID / and photograph. I've done two parts of that once so far, but the photographing part remains unfinished.
While my memory about some details of this trip are somewhat vague, one thing is clear. Don did some patient work waiting for an elusive Wilson's warbler in the bushes to show itself, while everyone was gathering together for the drive back to Campbell center.
Don's photographs of the Wilson's are the best of the day, I don't think there can be any doubt. I
Bird list for walk on Thursday, April 30, at Kirk's Pond near Fern Ridge Reservoir.
The weather was sunny with very cool air until around 11am. There was a lot of bird song, and this list may need additional listings since it's hard to know what was seen and what was heard. Please let us know of any oversights.
--- compiled by Doris Wimber
1. Western grebe
2. Great blue heron
3. Green heron
4. Canada goose
5. American wigeon
6. Red head
7. Turkey vulture
9. American kestrel
l 10. Killdeer
11. Spotted sandpiper
12. Rufous hummingbird
13. Belted kingfisher
14. Northern flicker
15. American crow
16. Cliff swallow
17. Black-capped chickadee
18. White-breasted nuthatch
19. American robin
20. Orange-crowned warbler
21. Wilson's warbler
22. Black-throated gray warbler (heard)
23. Yellow warbler (heard)
24. Common yellowthroat (heard)
25. Chipping sparrow
26. Song sparrow
27. Black headed grosbeak (heard)
28. Red-winged blackbird
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The photo slide-show for this trip can be found here:
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