[Tweeters] Perks of Patch Birding
josh.n.glant at gmail.com
Sat Mar 5 22:55:05 PST 2016
This morning, I woke up early to hit my patch. Just a short 10-minute walk from my home is a wonderful little place called Ellis Pond. With a nice mix of deciduous and coniferous forest surrounded by forested suburbs, it's a nice little local place for spring migrants, as well as for less common resident birds. I've only seen three waterfowl species on the pond itself (Mallard, bufflehead and hooded merganser) but I'm always looking!
I took a long, rambling path through the neighborhood on the way there, picking up such goodies as Band-tailed Pigeon and Varied Thrush, both singing. A random stop in an empty church parking lot yielded not the Rufous Hummingbird I was checking for, but a much-anticipated FOY Hermit Thrush!
Arriving at Ellis Pond itself, I soon heard the ringing, pleasantly monotonous song of a Hutton's Vireo. Since I started regularly visiting last February, Ellis Pond has proven to be a fine location for this species. A perfect mixture of deciduous and coniferous trees suits them quite well here. By the end of the morning, I had seen well and/or heard at least four and perhaps a fifth vireo! A young male Townsend's Warbler feeding in a flowering tree was also a treat; similarly to the vireos, the area around Ellis Pond is a fairly reliable location for a couple individuals of this species in the right season.
Pacific and Bewick's Wrens were confiding and highly vocal throughout the forest, including a Pacific Wren singing 5 feet away a bit above eye-level! I was surprised that, for once, the number of Ruby-crowned Kinglets outweighed Golden-crowns by 5 to one! The Ruby-crowns were all singing their tipsy little songs from every which direction. One last good bird that I encountered was an accipiter, harassed by crows; interestingly, I first spotted it by noticing its reflection in the water as it flew overhead! I soon identified it as a Cooper's Hawk, and saw it twice over the rest of my visit.
By 9:40, after a full 2 hours wandering the trails and roads of the area and looking for feathered creatures and a total of 25 species for the patch, I decided to walk home to prepare for to leave for Discovery Park. On the way home, I stopped beside a couple cedars and stumbled across yet another singing Hutton's vireo, as well as a calling Townsend's warbler that I couldn't locate visually. With that, I walked home, hearing the ethereal songs of several Varied Thrushes as I walked to my doorstep.
I truly do consider myself lucky to live both beside and near some quality bird habitat. Since November, upon the urging of a few birding friends, I have taken up patch birding in earnest. And on every outing it has been incredibly rewarding! It is a well-known birding truth that, if you cover an area long enough, something good is bound to turn up. And that has held true for me - on my first day in Ellis since summer, 14 tundra swans flew over! In addition, there is something rewarding about building up a list for a small, infrequently-visited park. It becomes your own project, seeing what totals you can reach for "your" birding territory. Patch birding is good birding, no matter what species you see!
Within my 25 species today, I added two species to my patch yearlist, Band-tailed Pigeon and Cooper's Hawk. The patch year total now stands at 32 species. Not bad for a small pond in the woods!
Good birding, Joshua Glant
Mercer Island, WA
Josh.n.glant at gmail.com
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