By Nathan Swick, Wake Audubon Board Member
I led the monthly Wake Audubon field trip to Anderson Point Park, one of Raleigh’s city parks and the one with which Wake Audubon has had a long-standing partnership, last week. A group of a dozen joined me as we strolled through the fields and forests puzzling over myriad sparrows, gaping at gorgeous Eastern Bluebirds singing atop the nest boxes erected by Wake Audubon, and chatting about birds at feeders and what we’ve seen recently. You know, the usual stuff. A Fish Crow honked overhead early on, the first one I’ve seen this year and the first real sign that spring is around the corner in this part of North Carolina.
We followed the path into the woods to the actual “point”, where Crabtree Creek flows into the Neuse River, and came across a beautiful adult Red-headed Woodpecker. Red-heads have grown scarce in the Triangle, especially within the city limits, and you couldn’t really get a nicer bird for a bird walk if you’d ordered it out of a catalog. Everyone got fantastic looks as it vaulted back and forth between a massive sycamore and a broken oak limb. He paid close attention to the tip of the break, and we wondered if he’d cached acorns there.
We saw Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers and Flickers too, only the Pileated and Hairy away from the woodpecker slam. No one seemed disappointed though. The embodiment of economy of color that is a Red-headed Woodpecker tends to sate just about any would-be bird walker.
A flock of sparrows drew my attention so I lead the group to a little seep where we picked up a super obliging (I’m obliged to use that word in a trip report at least once) Hermit Thrush. When you’re looking to show a group of birders the cool things around them that they might not normally see by themselves, Hermit Thrush is a definite goodie. Not only does it have lots of memorable field marks, both physically and behaviorally, but it’s quiet and easily overlooked. This bird stayed right out in the open where everyone got killer looks. I have to say, as a bird walk leader, I was feeling pretty good about the way things were going.
The resident Loggerhead Shrike was a no-show, and too bad too as I was hoping to pick it up for my Big Year, but the day was a success. Everyone got great looks at the two best birds and I picked up a Fish Crow for the year.
The next bird walk at Anderson Point Park will be held March 12. We hope to see you there!