A day for birds and more first blooms

Today’s sunshine beckoned me.  I obliged.

First, a visit to the northern half of Veterans Trail to continue my wildflower inventory of this trail.  I headed south of Outlet Road for 1-3/4 mile, then doubled back to the Outlet Road crossing.  While adding another 6 species, I viewed Coltsfoot and this one in bloom:

Bloodroot along Veterans Trail

Bloodroot along Veterans Trail

I saw/heard:

  1. American goldfinches
  2. black-capped chickadees\
  3. killdeer
  4. American robins
  5. house finches
  6. mourning dove
  7. tufted titmouse
  8. white-throated sparrows
  9. song sparrows
  10. cardinals
  11. grackle
  12. hairy woodpecker
  13. yellow-bellied sapsuckers
  14. white-breasted nuthatches
  15. phoebe
  16. pileated woodpeckers
  17. red-bellied woodpeckers
  18. blue jays

I also saw/heard:

  1. red squirrels
  2. spring peepers
  3. wood frogs

My second stop was Ballston Creek Preserve, parking at the small lot near the entrance sign for Shenantaha Creek Park along Eastline Road.

While adding another 4 species to my inventory, I viewed these in bloom:

Carolina Spring Beauty

Carolina Spring Beauty

Round-lobed Hepatica

Round-lobed Hepatica

Spring Beauty

Spring Beauty

After hiking Pat’s Trail out to its end at the edge of the open marsh along Ballston Creek, I spied these birds amongst the heron rookery (sorry the images aren’t better…) –

Osprey near its nest

Osprey near its nest

Great Horned Owl on nest

Great Horned Owl on nest (furthest back, second from right of the four nests shown)

Great Blue Herons on nests in heron rookery

Great Blue Herons on nests in heron rookery

I also saw/heard:

  1. white-breasted nuthatches
  2. hairy woodpeckers
  3. red-bellied woodpeckers
  4. pileated woodpeckers
  5. red-winged blackbirds
  6. American goldfinches
  7. Canada geese
  8. great blue herons
  9. great horned owl
  10. ospreys

I also saw/heard:

  1. chipmunks
  2. wood frogs
  3. gray squirrel
  4. tree swallows

If you have the opportunity to visit Ballston Creek Preserve during the upcoming week, be sure to walk Pat’s Trail from Eastline Road all the way back to its end at the edge of the marsh overlooking the heron rookery along Ballston Creek.  When you get there, scan the heron rookery with your binoculars and enjoy close-up views of great blue herons, the nesting great horned owl and the shy pair of ospreys.  Keep a watchful eye for fast-flying ducks overhead and the resident muskrats swimming near shore.  On your hike through the woods, you will likely see a sea of blooms of Carolina Spring Beauty and Spring Beauty (both shown above).

Happy trails!

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