Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Colliers Mills 3/31--Barn Swallow

Burned field at Colliers Mills
Last day of March and I'm still wearing my winter coat and knitted cap. At least I didn't need gloves today as I walked my long 4 mile plus circuit of Colliers Mills. Now that hunting season is over, I'll try to hit this area about once a week.

The fields were burned about a week and a half ago. It  won't take long for them to grow back--already there are tiny green sprouts coming up through the blackened grass.

I found my first Barn Swallow of the year flying around with a small flock of Tree Swallows at the northern end of Turnmill Pond. I wasn't thinking about this species today, so when I saw the orange belly among the white bellies of the Tree Swallows I was so surprised that I blurted out "Barn Swallow!" as if someone was with me.

But the real surprise today was also on Turnmill Pond. (Aside: why is Turnmill, which is much bigger than Colliers Mills Lake, called a "pond?") I saw a couple of birds on the water and my first reaction was Pied-billed Grebe, one of which I'd already seen on the "lake." But they didn't look right, especially one that was darker. I wasn't carrying the scope and they were just far enough away so that in my binoculars they might or might not be grebes. But I did have my camera and with its zoom maxed out I was able to figure out that I had two Horned Grebes, once of which had almost finished molting into breeding plumage.
Horned Grebes, breeding plumage on right
Horned Grebes are pretty unusual on fresh water in this part of the state so when I came across three more as I rounded the lake and started to walk north, I was flummoxed. Especially since I very rarely see this species in breeding plumage. Usually they're just drab black & white birds bobbing along in the bay.
I'm still missing a lot of birds that I thought I'd have by now, but spring has been late in coming and the winter birds are hanging on. As an example of that, I drove up to Prospertown Lake after I ate lunch. Mike Mandracchia had seen a Tundra Swan there on Saturday and it was still on the lake today.
Tundra Swan, Prospertown Lake
My last stop was Assunpink, where I surveyed the lake and found the continuing Trumpeter Swans. They pretty easy to pick out now from the Mute Swans because their necks are rusty from dipping into the water so much. For an unknown reason, this doesn't happen as drastically to Mute Swans.
Rusty-necked Trumpeter Swans
I walked the road that runs around the model airplane field. The sky had turned gray and threatening, the wind kicked up, and it felt like fall, especially since I was seeing lots of sparrows--Song, Field, Chipping and especially White-throated Sparrows. I haven't seen the latter much this month and I assumed they'd left but they're abundant once again as if it were mid-winter.

I had 53 species for the 3 stops today, pretty good for another cold day in spring.
Colliers Mills WMA
38 species
Canada Goose  18
Wood Duck  4     Pond north of power cut.
American Black Duck  5
Mallard  7
Ring-necked Duck  47
Bufflehead  7
Hooded Merganser  2     Turnmill Pond
Red-breasted Merganser  3     Turnmill Pond, flew off
Pied-billed Grebe  1
Horned Grebe  5     
Great Blue Heron  2
Black Vulture  1
Turkey Vulture  4
Osprey  1
Killdeer  8
Mourning Dove  3
Belted Kingfisher  3
Red-bellied Woodpecker  2     Heard
Downy Woodpecker  1
Blue Jay  1     Heard
American Crow  1     Heard
Fish Crow  2
Tree Swallow  5
Barn Swallow  1
Carolina Chickadee  9
Tufted Titmouse  2     Heard
White-breasted Nuthatch  6
American Robin  40
Northern Mockingbird  1
European Starling  20
Pine Warbler  2     Heard
Savannah Sparrow  1     
Fox Sparrow  1
Song Sparrow  3
White-throated Sparrow  2
Northern Cardinal  2     Heard
Red-winged Blackbird  100
Brown-headed Cowbird  14

Prospertown Lake
8 species
Canada Goose  9
Tundra Swan  1    
Mallard  2
Ring-necked Duck  9
Hooded Merganser  6
Common Merganser  21
Double-crested Cormorant  2
Tree Swallow  55

Assunpink WMA
31 species
Canada Goose  110
Mute Swan  8
Trumpeter Swan  3     
Wood Duck  2     Marsh on Imlaystown Rd
American Wigeon  2     Marsh on Imlaystown Rd
Mallard  5
Northern Pintail  2     Marsh on Imlaystown Rd
Green-winged Teal  15
Ring-necked Duck  75
Bufflehead  5
Hooded Merganser  2     Hen on Marsh on Imlaystown Rd, Drake on eastern side of the lake
Common Merganser  125
Ruddy Duck  12
Great Blue Heron  2
Turkey Vulture  1
American Coot  10
Ring-billed Gull  6
Mourning Dove  3
Hairy Woodpecker  1     Heard
Fish Crow  1     Heard
Carolina Chickadee  1
Tufted Titmouse  1     heard
American Robin  30
Chipping Sparrow  2
Field Sparrow  3
Song Sparrow  20
White-throated Sparrow  35
Northern Cardinal  1     Heard
Red-winged Blackbird  150
Common Grackle  100
Brown-headed Cowbird  1     Dirt road around model airplane field

No comments:

Post a Comment