Saturday, April 12, 2014

Colliers Mills WMA 4/12--Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Black-and-white Warbler

Take the left
I ventured into a new spot at Colliers Mills today; my friend Greg told me that if you kept going south on Hawkins Road and made a left at the fork, you'd come to the dam for Turnmill Pond and a wetlands area. After about a mile on the road, I came to a parking lot and beyond that, the berm of the dam.
Berm: Turnmill Pond at left, wetlands at right.
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher seen later on Hawkins Rd.
I walked the berm, which brought me over the dam and into more fields that I'd never seen. However, birdy it wasn't, though I did pick up a beautiful bluebird perched on a high stump in a recently burnt field. It wasn't until I was returning that I found the first interesting birds of the walk--two male Eastern Towhees skulking in the reeds. I've heard towhees this year--these were the first I've seen. There is a trail beyond the parking that runs along another small pond, so I decided to see what that would bring up and that's where I made my first happy find of the morning. I had come hoping to find Blue-gray Gnatcatcher and heard its soft, raspy "zeep." In the parking lot I was attracted to another song, if "wheezy wheezy wheezy" can be considered a song. Out of habit I pished and out onto a small bare tree in front of me jumped a Black-and-white Warbler. So, I think this habitat has its possibilities.

I walked back to the lake (why it's a "lake" when it is much smaller than the "pond" I don't know) and started off on my usual walk out to the power cut. Northern Flickers were everywhere; no Red-headed Woodpecker that I could find.

Last month the fields at CM were burned. As at Assunpink, this seemed to make the robins happy, but how it will affect the grass-loving species this summer depends on how quickly the vegetation grows back. On the left is a photo of the field on Success Road on 3/24. On the right, the same field today. Reason for optimism for the Grasshopper Sparrows? While walking through that field I saw my final "good" bird of the day--a hunting American Kestrel.

For my 4 1/2 hours wandering the roads and fields (there were a couple of ponds I didn't check because dog training was going on in many of "my" spots), I tallied 34 species; in the "hard to believe" category, I saw/heard no phoebes, chickadees, or Song Sparrows.
Canada Goose  18
Ring-necked Duck  5    Colliers Mills Lake
Bufflehead  1    Colliers Mills Lake
Turkey Vulture  4
Northern Harrier  1
Red-tailed Hawk  1
Mourning Dove  4
Red-bellied Woodpecker  5
Downy Woodpecker  1
Hairy Woodpecker  1
Northern Flicker  15
American Kestrel  1
Blue Jay  2
American Crow  1
Fish Crow  3
Tree Swallow  10
Tufted Titmouse  3
Carolina Wren  2    Heard
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher  5
Ruby-crowned Kinglet  1
Eastern Bluebird  2    One in burnt fields beyond dam, one in fields by power cut
American Robin  50
Northern Mockingbird  2    One in burnt fields beyond dam, one in fields by power cut
Black-and-white Warbler  1    Singing
Pine Warbler  1
Eastern Towhee  2    Wetlands near dam.
Chipping Sparrow  8
White-throated Sparrow  4
Dark-eyed Junco  3
Northern Cardinal  2
Red-winged Blackbird  25
Common Grackle  1
Brown-headed Cowbird  10
American Goldfinch  1    Heard, f/o

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