Stoney Creek (Wintergreen) 12/3/10

I had originally planned on going to the Rockfish Valley Trail this morning, but I got a late start and the forecasted sunny skies were not happening - there was light to moderate cloud cover, so I decided to check out the Stoney Creek ponds, the Allen Creek Nature Preserve, and the small pine forest at the end of my street. There was an unverified report of a Canvasback Duck on one of the ponds five days ago, and I am still looking to see if there might be a crossbill in the pine forest, or pipits or larks in the adjacent field. I also saw an owl in the pine forest a few days ago, and wanted to see if it might still be there.

I started off at Sawmill Creek pond # 3, and a Great Blue Heron was doing some fishing there.

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

Nothing in Lake Monocan (except for water!), so I headed down to the nature preserve where I saw some common winter species. While I was in the preserve, I thought that I heard a Red-shouldered Hawk, but when I looked in the direction of the call, all I saw was a Blue Jay in a tree. I have been fooled several times in the past few years by Blue Jays that have mimicked the call of a Red-shouldered Hawk, so I thought I had been fooled again. As I left the preserve, I got off a shot of a Red-shouldered Hawk flying along the edge of the preserve. Does this mean that my two wrongs made me right, or that I was a double fool : - )

Red-shouldered Hawk

I headed over to the pond on Hidden Creek Drive, and as I got out of my car, I heard quack, quack, so I knew ducks were there. Unfortunately, the only path to the pond is covered with lots of dry leaves, and I knew that my walking closer, even as quietly as I could, would scare the ducks to the other side of the pond.

Sure enough, there were sixteen Mallards swimming (a few were flying) to the other end. What I did not expect were a pair of Great Blue Herons in the water along with the ducks. One of them immediately flew to the other end of the pond, but the other one first waded to the water's edge, and then tried to hide behind some branches.


Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

This heron soon realized that I could still see him, so he flew away - it was the one with the leucistic wing patch.

Great Blue Heron

This prompted the other heron to fly away from the far end, and they headed north - perhaps toward the pond at Rodes Farm.

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

I headed off to the pond at Rodes Farm, and saw a few more species, and got some good shots of a male Pileated Woodpecker. I didn't see any birds in the pond, but as I was leaving, I saw two Great Blue Herons in the air - don't know if they had been hiding at this pond and flew away, or if they saw me on their approach and decided to go elsewhere. They were probably the same pair I had seen earlier.

Great Blue Heron

male Pileated Woodpecker

Within two hours, I had 23 species in Stoney Creek this morning:

Canada Goose
American Crow
Eastern Bluebird
Eastern Phoebe

Mourning Dove
Red-tailed Hawk
Red-shouldered Hawk
Northern Mockingbird
Great Blue Heron

White-throated Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
American Robin
Northern Cardinal

Pileated Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
Red-bellied Woodpecker

Blue Jay
Black Vulture
Turkey Vulture

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