Wednesday Hunter Island Walk, January 16, 2019

   About two weeks ago, while Joe McManus and I were trekking through Hunter Island, Joe said it might be fun to have a Wednesday walk. I was pessimistic, thinking nobody would show for a mid-week walk. But I figured that I would be out birding anyway, and why not give it a shot. On the morning of the walk, the weather wasn’t pretty. It was overcast, a bit windy and about thirty degrees when arrived. I was surprised and delighted to see so many friendly faces, a truly hardy bunch.

I think the possibility of a Pileated Woodpecker had something to do with the great attendance. We first hiked up the hill after watching many birds feast on the seed left on the ground. The next stop was the Barred Owl and he didn’t disappoint. He was out in the open getting some sun on this cold morning. After a few minutes of watching him, we backtracked and took a trail where the Pileated had last been seen. On the trail, we slowed down to survey the area and sure enough, there he was, flying from tree to tree. I was really happy everyone got to see it. On that spot we also had a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Hairy and Red-bellied Woodpecker.

    Our next target bird was the Barrow’s Goldeneye. We scoped from the rocks at Hunter Island to see lots of Common Goldeneye, Red-breasted Merganser, a Pied-billed Grebe, Common Loon, Great Cormorant, Greater Scaup, Gadwall, Ring-billed Gulls and other species.

It wasn’t until we scoped from the end of the boardwalk that we saw the Barrow’s Goldeneye, a great spot by Joe. With all of our target birds in hand, we hiked over to Twin Island and scoped out and saw many of the same species, with better views. We added Long-tailed Ducks to our list from that vantage point. By that time it was almost noon and everyone was ready for lunch, and maybe a nap. This walk was what everyone needed on a dreary morning. We all went home smiling.

Above:There is some discussion as to whether this bird is a female Common or Barrow’s Goldeneye. After some thought and other opinions, I’m now thinking it’s a Common. Photographing it is very difficult as dives and bobs in the water and moves quickly. Right: That’s us scoping from Twin Island. It was a good vantage point as we could see most of the waterfowl closer.

Species Account: Tufted Titmouse, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Black-capped Chickadee, Blue Jay, Mourning Dove, White-breasted Nuthatch, Pileated Woodpecker, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Hairy Woodpecker, Barred Owl, Common Goldeneye, American Black Duck, Red-breasted Merganser, Bufflehead, Common Loon, Long-tailed Duck, Gadwall, Great Cormorant, Belted Kingfisher, Song Sparrow, Ring-billed Gull, Herring Gull, Brant, Canada Goose, Mallard, Pied-billed Grebe, Greater Scaup, White-throated Sparrow, Winter Wren, House Sparrow, Carolina Wren (heard).

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