Wednesday, June 3, 2015

30 Days in June: Day 2, Morningside

One of the Fantastic Grandaddy Live Oaks at La Chua Trail
After I missed all the excitement at La Chua on June 1, I decided to go back and try again on June 2. Unfortunately, I did not get out early enough and the construction team had closed the trail again, this time entirely. Some of my earlybird friends got out to the platform before the construction started for the morning and were able to see the Phalarope again. But I was not so lucky. I did add a Black Vulture to my list and decided to change plans. It was a nice, overcast day and seemed like a perfect day to be out, so I headed to Morningside Nature Center to see if I could find Nuthatches, Bluebirds, Summer Tanagers and maybe some Owls. I had been there just a few days before and the Nuthatches were making their little squeaky rubber duck sounds from the treetops. Of course, in the perverse world of June Challenge, the Nuthatches were nowhere to be seen or heard. I'll have to come back and try again. But I don't mind because Morningside is one of my favorite places and I hope to get there several times during the month. I did find my Bluebirds in a recently burned sandhill at the back of the park. There were quite a few of them tussling. I think they may have been fledglings, catching bugs in the cinders from the prescribed burn. The area was just starting to green up after being burned and it looked stark and pretty at the same time. Morningside is a great place if you need to find Towhees, Great Crested Flycatchers, and Woodpeckers of all sorts. I had hoped to see Owls but did not find any. When I worked at the park we occasionally saw Barred and Great Horned Owls in the daytime and I figured it was worth a shot. But no luck. I had also hoped to see a Screech Owl because I found one nesting in May. But I have visited the box several times and have seen no sign of it since the initial sighting. The young may have fledged or maybe it just found a new nest. Owls are always one of my weak points in the June Challenge. Along with shorebirds, warblers and sparrows. I have many weak points.

Stark and Beautiful

Longleaf Pine Greening Up

Red Headed Woodpecker

Screech Owl from May

I had also hoped to find a Gopher Tortoise, but did not see any this time. I understand that there was someone poaching the turtles in the park for a while and I don't know if that made a big enough impact on the population, but I haven't seen one at Morningside for a while. Of course, I used to be there more often, too, so it may just be situational. The prescribed burn made the many, many pocket gopher mounds more visible. I hope that I can see a pocket gopher at least once in my lifetime so that I can know they are real. I'm not sure if I believe in them. I did see plenty of lizards zipping through the leaf litter. And as I walked down the East Perimeter Road, a Coyote ran towards the work farm. It was too fast for a photo. I have never seen a Coyote at Morningside before, and it was very exciting, though I have seen scat and other signs.

Six Lined Racerunner--They Make a LOT of Noise Scampering!

I visited an empty Vireo nest off of the north boardwalk. I saw birds sitting on eggs in the nest several times when I was in the park in April and May and it was nice to be able to look carefully at the details of the nest this time without worrying about upsetting the parents. What a beautiful piece of work! Surprisingly, there were no mosquitos around the boardwalk and I was able to sit and enjoy the sounds of buzzing cicadas and Red-Eyed Vireos.

Empty Vireo Nest
In the June Challenge, unlike other birding records, you must actually see the bird in order for it to count on your list. This is a good thing, because I could easily have added another several species to my list just from the sounds made by one noisy Mockingbird. I listened to it for almost 5 minutes and heard it mimic a Carolina Wren, Bluejay, Great Crested Flycatcher, Osprey, Titmouse, Woodpeckers, and Mississippi Kite, just to name a few. Those Mockingbirds can be very tricky.

Though I didn't add many new birds to my list, I had a peaceful and very satisfying visit to Morningside. Then I went back home and saw White Winged Doves in our front yard feeder, bringing my count total to 55.

No comments:

Post a Comment