Thursday, October 31, 2013

Fresh Air and a New Woodpecker at Mead

Some birders are retired and have free time to go on long trips on a whim to see birds any day. Some live near great birding spots that only require a short jaunt to see fun sightings nearly any day. Some of us have Life to deal with. Like me. Kids to run back and forth to school, chores, shopping, and job searching. Leaves precious little time to bird. Sigh.

So, after two weeks of not getting out to do any 'real' birding, I decided the reports from Mead warranted a day to get some fresh air and snag some shots today. Especially since I had to miss the Philadelphia Vireo last week and there are new Woodpeckers reported and photographed out at one of my favorite local hotspots. I had gathered all of my State requested job searches for the week and decided to take a walk.

I arrived at Mead Botanical Gardens as Marcus, a fellow birder, was getting out to refill the hummingbird feeder and he pointed out a female Yellow-bellied Sapsucker in the tree above his van that he says has been there for a while. She was busy making holes in the tree for later meal chances. Despite their name, Sapsuckers don't suck sap. They make holes in bark to allow the sap to ooze out and attract insects that they then eat.

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

Once we got the feeder filled I wanted to head straight over to the spot where a Red-headed Woodpecker has been taking up residence and storing acorns after drilling out a hole in a nearby dead stump. We looked around a while before the bird began chirping and lead us to discover it up in the pines.

Red-headed Woodpecker

As we were watching this bird a Cooper's Hawk swooped in and landed a few feet away. This caused the Red-headed Woodpecker to hide until the hawk headed off into the neighborhood trees. It still took 20 minutes before the woodpecker felt secure enough to head out to forage. It landed on another snag far overhead.

Red-headed Woodpecker

Red-headed Woodpeckers breed up at Wekiwa Springs and were only recorded as fly-overs here at Mead. This is the first time they have been recorded staying for any length of time. I was hoping for a closer shot but with any luck they will hang around and I can get a closer shot. The fact that they are storing acorns is a good sign that they may be expanding their range, at least for now. It would be a welcome addition to the gardens.

Red-headed Woodpecker

I was wanting to add my first season sighting of Yellow-rumped Warblers to my list and we found them down by the creek. The lighting was horrible, however, so I got no pictures of them today. They quickly dispersed and were soon replaced by Carolina Wrens emerging from the wetlands.

Carolina Wren

Another bird we found along the creek was an Eastern Phoebe. As we followed its calls a Red-shouldered Hawk glided out of the shadows and landed on a fence on a property across from the gardens.

Red-shouldered Hawk

I mentioned a Cooper's Hawk before and they are still prowling the area in silence. As I was about to leave for the morning, I spotted another near the butterfly garden but it would only pause for a few seconds before being spooked by us as we walked by.

Cooper's Hawk

Being Halloween, spooking would seem to be the task at hand. At least I got some treats on my one day out for now.

1 comment:

Wally Jones said...

Great post with really nice images!
I hope the Red-headed Woodpeckers nest there this coming spring.