Sky Meadows Fall Trip – October 29, 2016

By Jim Goehring

Predictions of good weather were more than met for our outing to Sky Meadows State Park. Blue skies, few clouds, temperatures in the sixties and seventies, and remarkably no wind made for a splendid day with wonderful views and good birds. Participants included Bob Hunt, Jim Goehring, and Mike Lott (leader). We walked both the Sherman’s Mill trail and the loop composed of the Rolling Meadows and Old Pasture Trails.skymeadows1

A few singing Eastern Meadowlarks greeted us as we drove into the Bridal Trail portion of the park. Shortly after arriving at the parking lot, we were immediately treated to a Broad-winged Hawk flying over. A second Buteo followed a few minutes later, though we were not able to make a definite ID.  Later in the day, we were treated to a mixed kettle of Red-tailed Hawks (5) and vultures, and a initially high distant accipiter turned out to be a Cooper’s hawk as it passed overhead flying southward. An adult and juvenile Bald Eagle, and a beautiful juvenile Northern Harrier rounded out the day’s raptor sightings. The latter with its fairly unmarked reddish breast was seen sitting on a fence post towards the end of the day. It allowed for a relatively close approach, offering great views.

In the woods along the Shearman’s Mill Trail we saw and heard numerous Golden-crowned Kinglets, which we suspect were more numerous than our count of fifteen suggests. Some came down low offering wonderful views of their golden crowns. In comparison, only two Ruby-crowned Kinglets were seen on the trip. At the same time, a fairly steady stream of Canada Geese flocks passed along the pasture side of the trail heading northward towards the various ponds and fields. It was here also that we encountered a Hermit’s Thrush, our first Yellow-bellied Sapsucker of the day, and a Brown Thrasher.

Bob departed befoskymeadows2re Mike and I headed down the Rolling Meadows trail. While sparrows were not numerous, the loop offered two a wonderful chorus of a pair of Barred Owls hooting back and forth with one another at mid-day. We added at least two Red-headed Woodpeckers (heard only) to our list along the Old Pasture trail, giving us a seven-woodpecker day.

A total of 45 Species were either seen or heard on the trip.  The list and counts follows. The sonorous croaking of the three Common Ravens we saw and heard was delightful.

Blue Jays were numerous throughout the day, and a few flocks of Red-winged Blackbirds, mostly female, added up. White-throated Sparrows were certainly more numerous than our count suggests, as their numbers likely explain the frequent rustling heard in the underbrush. Surprisingly only two Yellow-rumped Warblers were seen for the day.

Great Blue Heron 3
Canada Goose 172
Turkey Vulture 8
Black Vulture 9
Bald Eagle 2
Red-tailed Hawk 6
Broad-winged Hawk 1
Buteo, unidentified 1
Cooper’s Hawk 1
Northern Harrier 1
Mourning Dove 4
Barred Owl 2
Belted Kingfisher 1
Red-headed Woodpecker 2
Red-bellied Woodpecker 5
Pileated Woodpecker 2
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker 2
Downy Woodpecker 4
Hairy Woodpecker 1
Northern Flicker 4
Blue Jay 34
American Crow 13
Common Raven 3
Carolina Chickadee 6
Tufted Titmouse 2
White-breasted Nuthatch 6
Carolina Wren 8
Golden-crowned Kinglet 15+
Ruby-crowned Kinglet 2
Eastern Bluebird 7
Hermit Thrush 1
American Robin 5
Gray Catbird 1
Northern Mockingbird 8
Brown Thrasher 1
European Starling 8
Yellow-rumped Warbler 2
Eastern Towhee 3
Song Sparrow 15
Swamp Sparrow 7
White-throated Sparrow 34+
Field Sparrow 1
Northern Cardinal 10
Red-winged Blackbird 60+
Eastern Meadowlark 3
American Goldfinch 4


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