Notes From The Field

Ellis Lake & West Chester Wetlands

The day started out gray and rainy, and continued throughout for the rest of the morning and into the afternoon. A far cry from yesterday. The weather radar showed some breaks and with it came some hope for a little birding after work.

Ellis Lake and West Chester Wetlands holds a soft spot in my heart. I’ve had some good luck, and some notable life birds from this area. So when Jason Cade sighted some very early Least Sandpipers mixed in with the Killdeers, I thought why not take a trip over there. And even with rush hour it only took 30 minutes, so I arrived at 4:35.

There was a nice scattering of puddles all over so I started walking the paved path from the Seward Road parking lot. However before I could get started I noticed a small group of Common Grackles high in a tree next to the tracks. Grabbing my bins I scanned the birds in hopes that maybe a Rusty Blackbird had joined. No Rusties, however I couldn’t help but notice that some of the Grackles had more brown in them than what I was used to. Not all of them were like that, just 2. So after checking my field guide they had to have been the “Bronzed” Common Grackle. I can’t remember the last time, or even if there was a time, when I saw them.

After walking down the path for a short distance I really wanted to make it over the other parking lot and set up my scope over there. The majority of the water was in that direction and the hope of spotting the Peeps.

After pulling in and parking it was no more than 10 minutes when I noticed 2 small birds fly over to a nearby pond that weren’t Killdeer. Swinging my spotting scope around anxiously expecting to tick off a Least Sandpiper, I had to do a double take when my sandpipers turned into Wilson’s Snipes.

Bad lighting and blending well into the background didn’t help in getting any decent pictures. They were diagnostic.

This isn’t the best picture, however you can really see the stripped head which is a good field mark when differentiating between American Woodcocks and Wilson’s Snipe.

Killdeer

All in all a pretty nice late afternoon of birding.

Notable birds for the day include:

  1. Mourning Dove
  2. Rock Pigeon
  3. Northern Cardinal
  4. American Robin
  5. Common Grackles (Purple & Bronzed)
  6. Yellow-throated Sparrow
  7. Song Sparrow
  8. Belted Kingfisher
  9. Red-winged Blackbird
  10. Mallard
  11. Green-winged Teal
  12. Killdeer
  13. Wilson’s Snipe
  14. Canada Goose
  15. House Finch
  16. Brown-headed Cowbird
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