Sunday, February 14, 2016

Birchwood Trail in Winter

I hadn't really planned to get out today for day 3 of the Great Backyard Bird Count partly because I had to get a jump on doing a few things in order to head back to work tomorrow.  But given the mild weather we've been having lately, I couldn't help but take one more kick at the proverbially can.  At this point I've seen most of what I can reasonably expect to see here for the time of year, but you never know.

It's been some time before I walked the Birchwood Trail (a number of intertwining trails actually)  and I had never done it winter before.  I was also a little hesitant given there had been reports of a mountain lion spotted here late last week but given the number of people I saw out skiing or walking their dog, the increased activity helped put my mind at ease.

Almost all the trails are named after animals and I think I still have yet to see the entire system.

One of the handful of bridges crossing a very frozen Conn Creek.

While the human traffic may have frightened away any wildlife that may have wanted to use me for an afternoon snack, it did make bird watching more of a challenge.    While I heard plenty of chickadees and ravens I wasn't seeing much and I began to wonder if this would just end up being a pleasant mid-winter stroll.

It wasn't until I got around to a quieter section of trail that my luck changed.  I heard the sound of a woodpecker somewhere in the brush which actually took me a lot longer to locate than I had thought.  I probably stood along the trail for the better part of 10 minutes hoping against hope.   Patience is a virtue though and I persisted until I finally visually located him at the base of a tree several feet away.  Of course once I got my binoculars trained on him he darted around the back side of the tree and I had to wait a couple more minutes for him to come around the other side.  I was expecting to see a Hairy Woodpecker as it looked to be about the right size but rather than a red cap on its head, this one had a yellow one.  As it turned out I had just spotted my first three-toed woodpecker of the year, a welcome edition to my year list given that I didn't see one last year.  It was easily my most challenging woodpecker id in some time.  I forget how spoiled I am when I can see quite a few species with ease simply by looking out my kitchen window.   As if to make up for the trouble I soon spotted a second one a few minutes later, which I identified in a fraction of the time.

Yet another bridge to cross.

Another view of Conn Creek.  The ice looked like it was starting to soften up.

So the outing turned out much better than I thought it would.  I'm back to work tomorrow so unless some sort of owl or hawk comes along and lands on a scaffold I won't have anything more to add to my list for the bird count.  All in all a great weekend though and I'll do a wrap up of how my final results for the Great Backyard Bird Count went in the coming week.

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