Sunday, July 1, 2018

Ardea en Mass

What a morning.

I went to Fancy Creek State Park this morning to bird at one of my favorite spots while my wife ran the trail. It started off fairly well with a few Indigo Buntings (Passerina cyanea) and Dickcissels (Spiza Americana), but by the end was a checklist that I may never forget.

At Fancy Creek, there is a little paved loop that looks like it used to be a loading spot for boats, but is too overgrown now to drive down. This makes it perfect for walking to get some of the hidden birds. There wasn't a ton of variety at first, mostly just those Buntings and Dickcissels, but as I turned a corner to go down the rickety little bridge, I noticed three little Lark Sparrows (Chondestes grammacus) hopping along the pavement.

I crossed the bridge which then becomes a truly hidden road with lots of brush on either side. This little road always produces most of the species that I observe whenever I go to Fancy Creek.

Here I found a few Orchard Orioles (Icterus spurius), a Summer Tanager (Piranga rubra), and a beautiful Ruby-throated Hummingbird (Archilochus colubris) to name a few of my highlight species.

These weren't the birds that made my checklist so memorable though. By the end of my hour and 41 minutes, I had observed 33 Turkey Vultures (Cathartes aura), 12 Great Blue Herons (Ardea herodias), and 13 Great Egrets (Ardea alba). This is the largest group of Great Blue Herons and Great Egrets that I have ever seen.

Having this many Turkey Vultures and not being flagged for a high count also got me wondering, what is considered a high count for this species? If anyone has ever experienced a group larger than this or been flagged for a high count, please let me know in the comments.

eBird checklist:

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