Archivos de Diario para abril 2023

21 de abril de 2023

Early Spring Unfolding 2023

Every spring since Andy and I have been paying attention to wild things, particularly the birds, spring starts early for us with the same ritual, looking each day near the end of February for the first fuzzy white heads of little owlets to appear in the Great Horned Owl nest cavity at Carondelet Park. This year, a little one peeked out for the first time March 1, then two sets of tiny eyes gazed down at us on March 3. For the past fifteen years, we've continued to watch each newborn or set of newborns grow, continuing to check in on Mama, Papa and the babies, usually until the end of May. The first sighting of the babes has always ushered in one of the biggest delights of spring; after checking in on the owlets each day, we engage in a daily walk to look and listen for migrating songbirds, noting each first of spring species with delight and gushing. This year was no different. While watching the owls on March 12, I noticed two first of the season Eastern Phoebes foraging around the lake that the owls' nest tree overlooks. Other sightings soon followed, interrupted by a few special trips.

One such trip occurred after hearing about a Harris's Sparrow not far from us in Jefferson County. We made a trip to refind him for Andy's birthday weekend on April 18 and got lucky when the little one popped out right in front of us. Along the way to Riverlands Migratory Bird Sanctuary, a regular haunt of ours, on March 25, we discovered hundreds of American White Pelicans migrating through and stopping at North Riverfront Park. Pulling over, we let ourselves take in the sheer awe evoked by their presence. Once at Riverlands, we rejoiced in a first of spring Tree Swallow. Around that same time, we heard of a Lewis's Woodpecker hanging out in the Mark Twain National Forest. We couldn't resist making a pilgrimage to the area on March 27th to pay homage to the majesty of the woodpecker world, a woodpecker bedecked like a king in a silver, red and green royal mantle. The morning of the Lewis's adventure, as we walked to our car to make the three hour drive, eight first of spring Fish Crows flew overhead, giving us their blessing, a good luck, high-five call, "Uh huh! Uh huh!" How much more wonderful could things get?

Well, when we arrived at the Current River Pinery, the Lewis's infamous location, Pine Warblers were singing all over the place. Big JOY! They'd returned! Hiking the area and feeling somewhat lost, we were super fortunate to run into the woman who originally discovered the Lewis's Woodpecker as part of her work reestablishing Brown-headed Nuthatches there - Sarah Kendrick. She pointed us in the right direction. Nicked by numerous briars, the pain barely registered when we finally found the Lewis's as well as Brown-headed Nuthatches chirping and zipping about high in the pines. Deeply moved by the experience, we returned home ever more excited for what spring would bring.

The eve of March 30, there were strong winds pushing migrating birds north through our area (we had started checking BIRDCAST - see the link below), and sure enough, walking through Gaddy Garden at Tower Grove Park that next morning turned out to be a little slice of paradise. Winter Wrens, Eastern Phoebes, Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, Golden-crowned Kinglets, Eastern Towhees, Hermit Thrush, Field Sparrows, White-throated Sparrows and Brown Thrashers were everywhere, literally. The birds were on the move! An American Woodcock tried to stay camouflaged in the leaf litter, but was found by stealth eyes.

On April 2, the biggest surprise of the spring so far occurred. We got seriously lucky at Rockwoods Reservation. We found Grapevine Epimenis, a deep blue-black, white and orange tiny cutie of a moth, on the fly for the first time in four years, and then ended up surrounded in this dreamy manner by butterfly love as Falcate Orangetips, Zebra Swallowtails, Tiger Swallowtails, Spring Azures, and Mourning Cloaks encircled us at one point. Along with these unexpected early butterflies, we encountered our first of the spring returning warblers - Louisiana Waterthrush, Northern Parulas and Yellow-throated Warblers. A Barred Owl flew by with a mouse in his bill, and as we followed his trajectory and watched him perch in a tree, look about, fly a bit, perch in a tree and look about again, fly a bit more and then finally reach his destination, he dropped the prized mouse into a nest cavity; that was our first time finding a Barred Owl nest!

Other phenomena I looked forward to occurred during this time. Hundreds of Fox Sparrows migrated through our area for a few days. Ruby-crowned Kinglets replaced the hundreds of Golden-crowned Kinglets. As the trees started budding and leafing, the trees began to fill with Yellow-rumped Warblers, Orange-crowned and Nashville Warblers. An influx of Chipping Sparrows joined the White-throated Sparrows. Numerous Rusty Blackbirds filled the trees with their voices along with Common Grackles and Brown-headed Cowbirds. Red-winged Blackbirds had already staked their turf a few weeks earlier. Blue-winged Teal and Wood Ducks made appearances. As the Rusty Blackbird numbers grew fewer, the first Great Egret, Green Heron, Little Blue Heron, Black-crowned Night-Herons and Snowy Egret came through.

Not wanting to miss the shorebird migration, we drove an hour north to Clarence Cannon National Wildlife Refuge on Easter Sunday, April 9, where hundreds of shorebirds covered the mudflats. We found Black-necked Stilts and hundreds of American Golden-Plovers (we'd never seen so many before in one place), along with Pectoral Sandpipers, Dunlin, Dowitchers, Snipe, Killdeer, Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs, as well as Least Sandpipers and hundreds of ducks. Near the end of an incredible day basking in shorebird heaven, an American Bittern flew out of the reeds as we listened to numerous Eastern Meadowlarks who had migrated in.

Over the following days at our local parks, first of the spring birds continued to trickle in and the number of some birds that had been present during the winter peaked and then declined, like Brown Creepers and Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers. One day four Purple Finch, two males, two females, came through. Other days, Chimney Swifts returned as well as Barn Swallows and Warbling Vireos. A Spotted Sandpiper as well as a Solitary Sandpiper visited the city. The birds were singing the land awake.

Palm Warblers started coming through around April 15. April 16th, a Cape May surprised us. A White-eyed Vireo sang from a sinkhole in the park. A Caspian Tern flew by along the river at Jefferson Barracks.
Dark-eyed Juncos that had been present all winter began to disappear as did the Rusties. For the first time ever, Eastern Bluebirds that had been staying the winter decided to nest in Carondelet Park! When another wave of Yellow-rumped Warblers came through just yesterday, a hybrid was with them, a Myrtle crossed with an Audubon's.

And today, despite the high winds that have been making the past month tricky to find birds, we found our first of spring Summer Tanager, Wood Thrush, Gray Catbird and Blue-headed Vireo. The land is waking and stretching and coming alive again. Oh my, how I look forward to the days ahead!


Publicado el 21 de abril de 2023 a las 01:46 AM por wildreturn wildreturn | 62 observaciones | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario