It was a gorgeous day and cold in the morning. By midday it had warmed considerably into t-shirt weather. We covered a fair amount of area in the park and found one Louisiana Waterthrush at Picture Pond which was seen by about 50% of us and only heard by the other half. We also flushed a Ruffed Grouse from the side of a trail, again only seen by those in the front of the group.
Other birds of note were Black-and-white Warblers, one Northern Waterthrush, a Broad-winged Hawk, a Blue-headed Vireo, a Winter Wren, Pine Siskins and some other great early season birds. We ended the day with a total of 53 species (eBird checklist).
This morning, I headed out early (5:50am) over to Turner's Pond to see what I could stir up (eBird checklist). Overnight rains meant few birds had likely migrated but I hadn't been to the pond for a while and I was sure to see something interesting. As I expected, it was a slow start once I got there. A single Yellow-rumped Warbler was the only unusual bird to be seen until I reached the far side. A couple White-throated Sparrows were singing from the thickets as per usual.
The song of a Yellow Warbler reached my ears from across the pond and I made my way over to the apparently productive side. A singing Ruby-crowned Kinglet was also soon audible, a high-pitched noise that reached a crescendo and tumbled back downwards in a jumble of frenetic warbling notes. Several tiny kinglets seemed high on caffeine as they sang and jumped about from branch to branch. With my camera in hand, the bird would no longer be in my sights by the time I had it raised for a photo.
Two Black-capped Chickadees were busy excavating a cavity at eye level and flew back and forth between a flock of American Goldfinches feeding on last years birch catkins. Several more Yellow-rumps joined in, one of them hopping about on the ground at the waters edge. Crisp black, blue-gray, and yellow patches made the Yellow-rumps easily stand out from the nearby chickadees and kinglets.
One tree, party fallen over the water seemed to be a favorite perching spot for the days swallows and I counted a total of 17! Northern Rough-winged Swallows perched at one time mixed in with several Tree and Barn Swallows. In total I counted 20 Rough-wings making it my all time high count for this species and the new high count for the pond (previous was 11).
Although I have never found the nesting spot of the Rough-winged Swallows that feed over the pond, Tree Swallows breed in several tree cavities and all three species are common throughout spring and summer. This time of year migrant numbers peak with as many as 75 swallows feeding over the small pond.
I am often surprised by the diversity of certain species (such as these swallows) at such a small location.
Continuing my walk, I heard a House Wren singing from behind the woods by the main parking lot. Carolina Wren numbers are almost certainly down after the harsh winter. I usually have two pairs around the pond and have had a hard time even hearing one calling this spring.
I decided to begin the loop again since I saw a Yellow Warbler flying to an area of the shore I have never before seen them utilize. I am sure glad I did since I quickly flushed my first Green Heron of the year as I approached the water for a closer look at where the warbler went. Upon re-finding the flushed heron, I soon found a second perched nearby. Both were in superb breeding colors with bright orange legs and long and sharp blue back plumes.
Just near the second heron was a Great Blue Heron and it was quite a shock to see both birds side by side, the Green Heron the size of a chicken, and the Great Blue the size of a.........chair..?
It turned out to be a beautiful morning despite the cloudiness and persistent wind.