Friday, September 5, 2014

A Short Stroll in the Park

I was loading the last few dirty dishes into the washer this evening when I glanced out the kitchen window to check the position of the sun. I could see that daylight was short, but I figured I might be able to fit in a few minutes of checking for migrating warblers at Highland Glen Park.

The park is just five minutes from my home and right behind the local high school. It just so happened that there was a home football game getting ready to start so the road to the park was quite congested. The slow-moving swarm of cars near the school caused me to lose more light than I hoped. Fortunately, the first movement I saw in the trees when I arrived at the park turned out to be an unexpected species--White-breasted Nuthatch. That's a great bird for that park and it took less than ten seconds to spot.

I watched tonight's nuthatch forage along the trunk and major branches of the trees near the parking lot. I heard another one calling and realized there were at least two making a pit stop in the park as they were heading to their final destinations. The image I captured tonight (right) caught the bird moving up the tree. The more typical view of a White-breasted Nuthatch can be seen in the image below. I captured this image during a previous encounter with the species.

As I was watching the nuthatches and hearing other birds call from their various positions around the parking lot a Western Scrub-Jay flew into my view.  I immediately noticed that the Jay was missing all of its tail feathers.

I and other people who spend time birding occasionally run across birds missing their tail feathers. Sometimes the lack of tail feathers is a result of molting. Sometimes it is a result of predation, losing the tail feathers as a result of being attacked by a predator. It could be some sort of disease or other cause as well. I've never really noticed much of a struggle to fly for any of the tail-less birds I've encountered. The image to the right shows the typical tail for a Western Scrub-Jay. I captured this image when a Jay perched above one of my backyard feeders.

I strolled up to the pond just as the sun dropped below the horizon tonight. Along the way I heard the celebration that erupted from the home team crowd as a touch down was scored. I saw small groups of teenagers flirting with one another. It was obvious they were on their way to the football game with their school shirts and painted faces, but they had become distracted by their fascination with one another. Flirting was prioritized over football. And who can blame them? Families and individuals were fishing and walking around the park. I stopped my stroll, looked toward the sunset, and realized it was a beautiful backdrop to happy people enjoying the local park.

1 comment:

  1. Now that's a nice evening hike! The sunset image is beautiful.