3RBC Outings Revisited

Baltimore Oriole — Photo by Chuck Tague
Baltimore Oriole
Photo by Chuck Tague ©

Outings Revisited is a synopsis of the club's latest outings.

To view previous months and years, please see The Peregrine newsletters, also under Outings Revisited.

Synopsis of Outings —

    Dead of Winter Walk — Frick Park, January 27, 2018

    We were lucky to have a relatively mild winter day. Rain was forecast but fortunately held off until well after the outing. I was surprised to have 25 birders present. Some participants were on their first outing!
    From the parking lot, I heard a Fish Crow calling and saw it flying across Forbes Avenue. A Northern Flicker, a few American Robins, and Red-bellied Woodpeckers were in the vicinity.
    We started by watching the feeders at the nature center for a few minutes while discussing hybrid chickadees and the differences between Carolina and Black-capped Chickadees. As we watched a House Finch feeding, someone asked how to identify House and Purple Finches. I tried my best to explain the differences. We even talked about the introduction of the House Finch to the eastern U.S., sold as "Hollywood Finches." A few White-throated Sparrows and Dark-eyed Juncos were feeding below the feeders.
    Heading for the Meadow Next we headed toward the meadow where we saw the remains of an old fountain that until recently had been buried under the soil. The area is in restoration, but it's unclear whether that includes the fountain or just the natural area. A pair of Pileated Woodpeckers gave us fantastic views for several minutes. While we watched the pair, another was heard calling in the distance. A few White-throated Sparrows were calling, and Sheree Daugherty spotted a Raccoon curled up in a ball sleeping in a tree.
    We continued down South Clayton Trail where we were treated to a Golden-crowned Kinglet and a Brown Creeper. A Red-tailed Hawk was perched but flew off shortly after we saw it.
    I stopped by a familiar American Basswood tree to show the trunk ringed with Yellow-bellied Sapsucker wells. Unfortunately, we were unable to see one during the outing. Red-bellied Woodpeckers were very numerous.
    On the trails behind the nature center we had another Golden-crowned Kinglet at very close range, allowing us to admire this beautiful and active species. There was a lot of activity here with Blue Jays, chickadees, House Finches, and three Carolina Wrens. The activity ceased as a Cooper's Hawk flew over, but in a few minutes the birds came out of hiding. An unexpected Common Grackle was perched and calling in a tree.
    Northern Cardinals and Song Sparrows were singing, a nice treat in the middle of winter and a bit of a sign of spring.
    —by leader Mike Fialkovich
    Click the link to see the complete list of 22 species for this outing on eBird: Dead of Winter Walk

    Sewickley Heights Borough Park — February 17, 2018

    This was the seventh year that the 3RBC has teamed with the Fern Hollow Nature Center to participate in the annual Great Backyard Bird Count. Ten birders gathered on a calm and chilly morning in the upper parking lot of Sewickley Heights Park prepared to walk around its many habitats to try to find as many birds as we could.
    As birders pulled into the parking lot, their attention was immediately directed to helping count Cedar Waxwings as the birds feasted on bittersweet berries. The final tally amounted to 43 waxwings. A dozen American Goldfinches also occupied the same tree, but they seemed to be just roosting, perhaps waiting for their chance to feed on the berries. Scanning the meadow and wooded edges produced sightings of a male and female Eastern Bluebird, crows, Song Sparrows, a cardinal, and a Blue Jay.
    As we next headed to the Butterfly Field, April Claus, a Fern Hollow naturalists, wanted to show us an area adjacent to this field that was clear cut to eliminate invasive bushes and plants. There was another area of the same size that was also cut near the Pine Tree Trail. The intent of the cutting is to be proactive towards improving habitat for birds and mammals by planting native grasses and shrubs. This project will be interesting to monitor over the next few years to see how birds are drawn to these areas. While walking along the Bridle Trail, the group stopped to count fifteen robins and a dozen starlings roaming over the backyard of a house parallel to the trail.
    The horse pastures along the Barberry Trail turned out to be the most active section of the park. A Northern Mockingbird was sighted at the top of a multiflora rose bush. A Red-bellied Woodpecker flew out of the woods across a field. White-throated Sparrows played Hide-and-Seek as they stayed low in bushes along the fences. We spied a Turkey Vulture flying in the distance and three Red-tailed Hawks put on a good show as they ascended while "riding" a thermal of air. Surprisingly, a flock of 59 Canada Geese flew overhead and were counted by a few sharp-eyed birders. Upon returning near the trail's entrance, we observed large numbers of robins, starlings, and juncos seemingly pour out of the woods and begin to spread out over a field in search of food. A pair of American Tree Sparrows was discovered further up along the grassy edge of the trail. This was a life bird for one participant.
    We next headed toward the Pipeline Trail by walking through the Bird Field as it has been dubbed by the Fern Hollow naturalists. Waxwings and goldfinches were noted here but not counted. We figured they probably split off from the group we first observed in the parking lot. A pair of Golden-crowned Kinglets was discovered as they pin-balled their way through tree branches.
    Unfortunately, the Pipeline Trail and our walk back to the parking lot were void of birds. We totaled 23 species and 321 total birds during the morning walk. Before going our separate ways, we all shared our favorite sightings back at the parking lot and expressed our joy for finding a good diversity of birds. A few of us went on to the Fern Hollow Nature Center to enjoy a pot luck luncheon which has also become part of our GBBC tradition.
    —by leader Bob VanNewkirk
    Click the link to see the complete list of 23 species for this outing on eBird: Great Backyard Bird Count

Image Gallery

Mission of 3RBC

To gather in friendship, to enjoy the wonders of nature and to share our passion for birds!

© Photo Credits:
Sherron Lynch, Brian Shema, Chuck Tague