An American Robin in Spring.
An American Robin in Spring.
I searched out Walnut Woods Metro Park because of its conifers, not hardwoods. Walnut Woods has a good stand of spruce trees, creating one of the few habitats to attract stray White Crossbills. Visiting in the transition between winter and spring, I was too late for such irregular visitors.
I did find other birds. The ever faithful Northern Cardinals and Song Sparrows, year-round residents, were found in abundance.
Although this was a frosty March morning, the first migrants had arrived. A Red-winged Blackbird was staking a claim in a wetland. Because they disappear from yards in late summer, it seems like American Robins also migrate. However, they usually quietly slip into nearby woods for the winter, then reappear in early spring. Another year around resident – a Red-tailed Hawk – wheeled above the sections of prairie and marsh.
There was evidence of other animals, but none revealed themselves this chilly morning.
There is no little irony found in the final photo. I went to a walnut grove to find spruce trees and photographed a sycamore. But what I sycamore it was.
Just as the sudden appearance of American Robins is a sure sign of Spring, so their abrupt disappearance quietly heralds Fall. There are mid-winter days when I hike local wood lots and stands of trees, looking for loose flocks of wintering Robins. I watch them, muddy ice caked on my boots, until I’m reassured of Spring’s return.
Just as the sudden appearance of American Robins is a sure sign of Spring, so they quietly herald Fall by disappearing from lawns and parks. There are days in mid-winter when I hike local woodlots and stands of trees solely to find loosely gathered flocks of Robins. I watch them, often shivering with icy mud on my boots, and feel just a touch of the warmth of Spring.
I introduced Quiriva National Wildlife Refuge in my previous post. By November the primary migration along the Central Flyway is declining. Yet we still saw thousands upon thousands of ducks, geese and Sandhill Cranes during a day visit.
I didn’t bring a telephoto lens on the trip, so I rented an older Nikon 50-400. Between a misfitted lens and generally overcast skies, the quality of photos is lacking. So be it. This was my first visit to Quivira.
A couple of days before our visit, migrating Whooping Cranes returned to Quivira. While we did not see the cranes, we found plenty of fellow birders looking for this endangered species.
There were plenty of waterfowl and shore birds, even if most were out of camera range.
Even though I live east of the Mississippi River, I consider Kansas my home state. So I have an emotional connection to the birds of the prairie. The Western Meadowlark is the Kansas state bird. The call of the Northern Bobwhite is iconic. I can only imagine the photo opportunities in the spring at Quivira for birds of the prairie.
Birds identified at Quivira National Wildlife Refuge November 5, 2016.
American Avocet, American Coot, American Robin, Bald Eagle, Black-crowned Night-Heron, Canada Goose, Dark-eyed Junco, European Starling, Field Sparrow, Great Blue Heron, Killdeer, Least Sandpiper, Lincoln’s Sparrow, Mallard, Marsh Wren, Northern Bobwhite, Northern Flicker, Northern Shoveler, Red-tailed Hawk, Red-winged Blackbird, Redhead, Ring-billed Gull, Ring-necked Pheasant, Ruddy Duck, Sandhill Crane, Savannah Sparrow, Snow Goose, Western Meadowlark, Yellow-rumped Warbler
The unseasonably warm February from the Midwest through the Great Plains created some movement among birds. One Saturday afternoon we had these backyard visitors…Some Eastern Bluebirds winter in Ohio, but not near our place. This day the bluebirds appeared, searching high and low for insects.
A pair of American Robins left the shelter of the woods to check for worms and larvae.
In the past decade, this is the earliest we have seen a Red-winged Blackbird in our yard.