Sixty-two people showed up for Saturday morning’s field trip to see the Burrowing Owls at Watermelon Pond.
Luckily some Burrowing Owls showed up too. I counted 12, including an adult standing at the mouth of a burrow with three sets of fiercely-staring yellow eyes visible below her (see Robert Emond’s digiscoped photo below).
County biologist Michael Drummond saw at least one more chick in that burrow, and thought that the total count in the field was somewhere between 13 and 17 owls. You can see six of them in this photo by Keith Collingwood.
Several other birds of interest to June Challengers were seen on the trip, and on a subsequent walk in the nearby Watermelon Pond Wildlife and Environmental Area, including Common Nighthawk, American Kestrel, Red-headed Woodpecker (photo below by Keith Collingwood), Eastern Kingbird, Purple Martin, Eastern Meadowlark, and Orchard Oriole. Barbara Shea arrived before sunrise and saw a Chuck-will’s-widow and a Barred Owl as well.
Loggerhead Shrikes were nowhere to be found at Watermelon Pond, but today Anne Barkdoll found three of them “next to a large retention pond at 3744-3756 SW 24th Avenue, which is somewhere near/in the new Butler wasteland. It is open and grassy next to the retention pond between two apartment complexes. Never expected to see a shrike here. Had to stop and back up. Fortunately little traffic.” Drive carefully, Anne!
Roseate Spoonbills were reported today by Karl Miller at the Deerhaven Generating Station and by Felicia Lee at Sweetwater Wetlands Park.
On Sunday morning ten of us gathered at San Felasco Hammock and walked about three miles of trails north of Millhopper Road in search of June Challenge birds. We had fair to good looks at three of our five targets – Red-eyed and Yellow-throated Vireos and Acadian Flycatchers – and a fantastic point-blank look at a singing Eastern Wood-Pewee at the junction of the Yellow Trail and the Hammock Cutoff. But we didn’t see or hear a single Hooded Warbler. As we neared the parking lot, Danny Shehee heard an odd call from the woods, so he and Austin Gregg and I went looking for it while the rest of the crowd kept walking. We eventually discovered that we were hearing the begging calls of a fledgling Swallow-tailed Kite perched high in a pine tree, being fed by its parent. Afterward, Austin and I crossed the street and walked down the Moonshine Creek Trail until we found a Hooded Warbler. Going down the left fork, there’s a pond off to the right just before you get to the first bridge. One bird was singing on the back side of the pond, and Austin and I both got a look at it. Glenn Israel and his daughter Larissa had gone ahead of us, and they found a second bird singing on the far side of that first bridge, on the left. So now you know where to look.
Barbara Woodmansee asks, “Do you ever go out to Burnt Island? I got lots of fun stuff out there last weekend – Northern Bobwhite, 3 Chuck-wills-widows in the road at dusk, a Bald Eagle, a Brown Thrasher, Eastern Towhees, Great Crested Flycatcher, and probably a Prothonotary Warbler, but I couldn’t count it because I could only hear it.” Burnt Island is #4 on this map: http://www.sjrwmd.com/trailguides/pdfs/lochloosadrivetrail.pdf (Driving along Fish Camp Road – #2 and #3 on the map – can also be good for Chucks.)
One last field trip offer: If you’d like to try for Great Horned Owl and Barn Owl at La Chua, get to the La Chua parking area by 7:45 on Monday evening (they’ll close the gate not long after that). We’ll wait on the boardwalk for the owls to show up. When Mike Manetz and I were out there, the Barn Owls didn’t show till 8:50, but Danny Shehee has seen them closer to 8:30 twice this week. Great Horned Owls are also possible.