The City Proper

I usually go out towards the edge of town to bird, but on Sunday I pedaled into the interior city limits to hit two scenic destinations: a water treatment plant and a cemetery.

Northern Shoveler

Northern Shoveler

Jumping on the river greenway downtown, the first interesting bird I noticed were a few Northern Shovelers. I think this is the first time I have ever seen their bright orange legs.

Horned Grebe

Horned Grebe

Arriving at the water treatment plant, the only other bird of note was a lone Horned Grebe bobbing waaaay out on the terminal ponds. I wouldn’t have bothered to post this shot except for that it is a new motorless bird good for #137.

Blue Jay

Blue Jay

With the waterfowl mostly a bust I headed back through downtown to visit a sparsely birded but occasionally great Lindenwood Cemetery. It was my first visit of the year, and my mission was finches. I came up totally empty (unless you count goldfinches), although I was able to acquaint myself with some of the more common birds around, including a pair of Blue Jays foraging for acorns among the headstones and a flock of about 9,000,000 Dark-Eyed Juncos. The Red Crossbill reported from Thanksgiving day was not to be seen.

But: funny birding story. I pedaled into the middle of the cemetery, which was almost completely deserted. I ignored the one single car there and ate a hasty peanut butter sandwich while listening for finch calls. When I was done eating, I pulled out my phone to play a recording of Red Crossbill, hoping to get really lucky. Within 10 seconds, the door to the car flew open, and a gentleman stepped out calling with some hesitation, “…Are you birding?” My answer: “Yes.” His reply: “Did you just play a tape?” My reply: “Yes.” He continued: “Of a Red Crossbill?” My response, now on guard: “Yes…” I was mostly playing the recording for my own education, since I have never heard nor seen RECR, but this guy was totally not expecting anyone else to be there birding, let alone birding on a bike, so he was about through the roof thinking he had found the bird. Oops. Disclaimer: I don’t use playback very often, but have been known to on occasion. In the end, he asked me to play it again in the off chance it would attract the bird. +1 for cool other birders.

With exactly one month to go in 2015, I may have finally plateaued in my challenge for the year unless something crazy lands in my neighborhood (but there are currently both a Townsend’s Solitaire and a Green-Tailed Towhee in the state, so who knows?). With regular sub-freezing temperatures now on tap, I may have my cycling opportunities over with, although there was a Snowy Owl reported yesterday that is only 15 miles away from home, so…

(Just kidding, Jaime!)

Octobirds and Novembirds

I am 100% sure I have used this as a blog post title before. Oh well.

Dunlin

Dunlin

I also featured Dunlin in the last post, too. But these are motorless Dunlin!

Wilson's Snipe

Wilson’s Snipe

Ditto goes for Wilson’s Snipe. But motorless makes up for the gross reduction in photo quality. Bonus: can you spot the Killdeer? Yes? Okay, well then what about the White-Rumped Sandpipers that literally everyone else in the county ticked from this exact location? No? Me neither.

American Tree Sparrow

American Tree Sparrow

American Tree Sparrows are one of the most underrated sparrows. I can still say that because it’s really exciting that they’re back for the winter, but give me three months and it will be a different story.

White-Crowned Sparrow

White-Crowned Sparrow

I finally caught a White-Crowned Sparrow, although this immature bird is not doing its name any favors. WCSP was one of the biggest holes in my list. That designation STILL rests with Eastern Towhee, though, especially since I have heard one but not seen any. My tally is up to 136, and I am already planning my next challenge for 2016.

Happy listing!