This past week saw more consistency to the daytime highs and consequently more migrating bird species arriving in our area. Several first of year species were seen and with the weather looking to remain stable for the upcoming week, more will follow.
I finally saw my first Yellow-rumped Warblers of the year this past week after mentioning them as early returnees in previous posts. The number of sparrow species that have returned continues to grow with Field Sparrows now being added to the list. Chipping Sparrows have been regular morning visitors to my feeders this past week and White-throated Sparrows are more abundant. Northern Rough-winged Swallows can now be seen, along with increased numbers of Tree Swallows flying overhead in search of insects in areas close to water.
Many of the local ponds in the area are turning up several waterfowl species. Saunders Pond located in the Westminster Ponds ESA is a perfect example of this. Wood Ducks, Horned Grebes, American Coots, Common Mergansers, and Pied-billed Grebes were all present. A Great Egret was also observed on the north side of the pond, visible from the lookout behind Tourist Information on Wellington Road. In fact, the entire Westminster Ponds ESA provided great looks at many birds. The forest floor was alive with activity, with Hermit Thrushes and Brown Thrashers sifting though the leaf matter in search of insects. Eastern Meadowlarks could be seen and heard in the open field areas within the ESA. Five woodpecker species, the highlight being a pair of Pileated Woodpeckers, were also found deep in the forests. A rather early Blue-headed Vireo was seen on the edge of the forest capturing insects. Vireos typically arrive later in April or early May, so this was a nice surprise.
A complete list of birds observed this week is as follows:
Brown Headed Cowbird
Northern Rough-winged Swallow
It wasn’t just bird activity that increased this past week. Reptiles, amphibians, and butterflies were all more prevalent. The calls of Spring Peepers and Chorus Frogs echoed from within flooded wooded areas. Painted Turtles could be seen basking on logs in the warm sun, and several butterfly species including Mourning Cloaks and Milbert’s Tortoiseshells emerged.
Spring Migration is really starting to pick up now that spring-like weather is finally here. The numbers of species previously reported will increase and new arrivals will be appearing over the next couple of weeks. If you get the chance over this period, head out to your local park, ESA, or Conservation Area and see what incredible nature we have right here in our own backyard.