A great season of County Park bird walksSeptember 20th, 2012 by Erica, Project Specialist
It’s a beautiful fall morning at Mono Lake County Park. I hear a Killdeer calling overhead from the cottonwood trees. No, wait—that would be a European Starling doing an excellent imitation!
I’m in my final month of leading public bird walks as the Mono Lake Committee Birding Intern. Has it really been five months since I rolled into town, nervous about whether I could sort out the sparrows from the finches, especially when in front of a group? I had a steep learning curve while leading my first-ever bird walks, and maybe I did shout out “Yellow-headed Woodpecker!” to one of my first groups as a vivid bird flew past. (“That would be Yellow-headed BLACKBIRD,” they gently corrected me).
Lots of practice alone and with local experts has increased my confidence, and each week I saw new birds and was asked new questions that begged for more research and knowledge. Do Osprey mate for life? (Yes.) When were Starlings introduced in the US? (1891.) How do you tell Dusky Flycatchers from Gray Flycatchers? (I don’t know, still figuring that out!)
It has been a joy to be in one area for several months, and to have the opportunity to watch the local birds through a whole season of courtship, nesting, feeding, fledging, and migration. Some of my old friends have already left for the season—one week there were Violet-green Swallows, and then none the next. But then new birds arrived—Lewis’s Woodpeckers eating apples are the star this week! I have seen 75 species in the County Park so far this summer, and it’s always a mystery as to which birds will show themselves for a group. My group saw a Great Horned Owl in County Park only one Friday—did it watch us pass week after week while remaining hidden in the trees?
There are just two public walks remaining this fall, on the final two Fridays of September at 8:00am. Will you join me and be added to the 179 bird walk participants this year?