Birds, bugs & words in short supply
|“On two occasions I finally heard Nighthawks near the park but did not see them.”
Rather than surreptitiously ecycling an old August column, I will try to find some new items to write about, although it is tough this time of year.
A Robin family has been in the back yard a few times, along with the young Chickadees and Downy Woodpeckers. I have been hearing a Nuthatch nearby but have not seen it yet. A House Finch just made a rare appearance as I was writing this. Quite a difference from a few years ago when House Finches seemed on the verge of becoming the most common backyard bird.
The Great Blue Herons, Double-crested Cormorants, Black-crowned Night Herons and Egrets are still around the lake quite regularly, although certainly not as many as last month. A young woman park neighbor and activist thinks the Fourth of July fireworks scared them away. That could be, but I had assumed it was because the goldfish numbers are way down. There are still some goldfish, however I have only seen small numbers of small goldfish. The numbers of very small baby catfish are also down, but that is probably natural, while nothing about the goldfish is natural.
A Green Heron has been back on a few occasions, but it is much harder to see than its larger relatives. I have not seen the Cooper’s Hawks for some time, but I get fairly regular, reliable reports of them and also a recent (July 29) report of a mature Bald Eagle over the park.
The ducks are doing well, but as sometimes happens, a few of both resident species (Mallards and Wood Ducks) have had some very late litters. I guess they know what they are doing. I probably should not mention this for fear of jinxing them, but all the Canada Geese are still in the park as of July 30, and it should be too late for the goose police to get them. The local geese are not very wary because of all the people that feed them. Sometimes lately, when I stand still, the geese come up and stand beside me. They might be awed by my powerful presence or they just think I am another sucker that is going to feed them. A Ring-billed Gull was over the lake on July 18. There were a lot of gulls in the spring and there will be a lot in the fall but few come this time of year. Crows also have appeared occasionally this time of year and like the gulls are more plentiful in spring and fall.
Song Sparrows and Chipping Sparrows have been common near the lake, especially the northwest end. I think many are this year’s hatch, but that is not obvious by looking at them. Chimney Swifts and occasionally Barn Swallows are over the lake many evenings, even though I still don’t think the bug supply is up to normal, hot weather levels. On two occasions I finally heard Nighthawks near the park. This was another time I heard something I did not see. I do see Eastern Phoebes and Cedar Waxwings sometimes, also usually near the northwest end of the lake.
I have two new (for this year) mammals to report—a raccoon in the park and a bat in the block, both on July 27. Usually by this time I would have seen quite a few of each in the neighborhood. I am also way behind on local rabbit sightings.
I could write about all the brush removed in the pine grove area and on the hillside north of the lake, which happened just before I wrote my July column, but I don’t know what to say. No matter what the park board does, Powderhorn will not look or operate like a suburban golf course, and I and many others don’t think it should. That is my rant for this month.
Lastly, the article about bees and their many values by Sharon Parker, which was printed opposite my July column, was very good and more about the direction I think the world should be going than towards suburban golf courses.
Comments and observations are always welcome. Send them to me, in care of Southside Pride. Thank you.