Leaving for Boomer Lake Park at 0710 last Sunday, thunder could be heard in the distance while the western skies were dark and ominous, yet a rainbow stretched from just north of the water tower across Lakeview Rd. beyond the power plant. The eastern skies were still inviting and sunny.
Knowing that my time was limited, Heron Cove was the place to be for wide open skies and a good line of sight. Checking trees, bushes, and my hearing, much activity was noted, nothing unusual for an impending storm. No birds were perched long, all were either in transit to safety or already there. The most accurate weather forecast is not with weather maps and meteorologists, it is by watching bird behavior.
Our most diverse birds, the warblers, which included both the yellow and the prothonotary, were flying in couplets with swift maneuverability, giving each other direction in tight formation. Mourning Doves went whistling by on their mission, wasting no time. Just clearing the canopy were three Chimney Swifts, completely uncharacteristic of normal behavior. Even though the Mississippi Kites were trying to get a last meal before they disappeared for the onslaught, they did not stay stationary long.
Great Blue Heron was heard croaking in mobile irritation, while two Turkey Vultures perched on a snag at Boomer Creek. A Blue Jay was sounding an alarm in flight, and six European Starlings moved on instead of alighting on a power line. Two juvenile Northern Mockingbirds were trilling in a tree where they had taken cover, assuring their safety to others.
An American Robin gave the first part of its whinny, as a lone female House Sparrow proceeded to the martin house at the west side of The Cove. All that remained for the last moment that I bore witness was a Northern Cardinal that just arrived in a Kentucky coffee tree.
Last Saturday on a two-mile Boomer Lake trek, we found a lone Eastern Kingbird on the water’s edge in a treetop, likely a non-breeding migratory bird. An Upland Sandpiper was also heard and recognized by its unearthly calls, and eleven Mississippi Kites were lined up on the highest power lines calling to each other. Our former high count prior to this was eight in one localized area.
Earlier last week yielded some interesting sights, not as dramatic. Our recently fledged Green Herons quickly learned to fish, coupled with strong, sustained flight. Though it is relatively late in the season, they get down to business when there is more of a time crunch, controlled by their DNA. One of the three had been observed leaving Heron Cove and returned to a small snag at the overgrown shoreline by the southeast corner of the lake.
Last Monday brought a Solitary Sandpiper at water’s edge off the Veteran’s Memorial Jetty where this photo was obtained. They prefer small brushy ponds or mudflats and shallow water-filled depressions in grassy fields.
Keep your eyes on the ground and your head in the clouds. Happy birding!
Keep your eyes on the ground and your head in the clouds. Happy birding! Deb Hirt is a wild bird rehabilitator and photographer living in Stillwater.