Article and photos submitted by JoAnn Dalley
It was December 16th, a morning that threatened rain, but eventually cleared into a beautiful day. A small group of bird counters gathered at a respectable 9am hour to walk the John Warner Parkway trail
for the Christmas Bird Count.
We didn’t get more than 50 yards when the birds made themselves known, and we stood at the CATEC parking lot entrance for the better part of thirty minutes counting them. All the usual suspects showed up including American Robins, Northern Flickers, White-throated Sparrows, Northern Cardinals and Blue Jays.
As we walked our route, more birds revealed themselves and in greater numbers. Our 4.5 mile route took us all the way to Route 250 and the Dogwood Memorial and then into McIntire Park east along the meadow, past the large Oak trees (where we were thrilled to see a small group of Savanna Sparrows) and, finally, back onto the paved trail. Five hours and twenty-two minutes is unusually long for a birdwalk, but the birds kept on showing up for the count.
The night before, one volunteer had to cancel, and by email she wrote, “I hope you see something unexpected.” Well, the deer we saw in the park were not exactly unexpected, but they surprised us, just as we did them. We recorded a Sharp-shinned Hawk and an American Kestrel along with the area’s more common Red-tailed and Red-shouldered Hawks, so that was unexpected. And, in an area of the trail where one of our group member runners previously had spotted it, an always delightful little Brown Creeper made its appearance.
Minus the 88 European Starlings, we counted 32 species (+1 other taxa) and 349 birds. All in all, a very satisfying and successful CBC day.