A Very Birdy Park
I recently took an early morning stroll at Ezell Farm Community Park, located between Matthews and Mint Hill. It consists of open fields, an old cow pond, woodland edge, and a popular community garden. Popular with the birds that is.
I always start at the garden because that is where the most action is. There were easily 70+ pine siskins foraging through the various garden plots. A few American goldfinches (a close relative) were mixed in as were a few chipping sparrow, Savannah sparrows, and dark-eyed juncos. Eastern bluebirds love this garden too; a couple of dozen were there that day.
|Photo by Lee Weber|
On my way down to the pond nine Eastern meadowlarks flushed from the short grass. Meadowlarks are getting scarce in Mecklenburg County due to habitat loss so I am always glad to see them here. As I arrived at the pond I was greeted by the resident red-tailed hawk, who screamed at me and promptly flew off. That bird has been at this park for a couple of years and always treats me the same way. I caught sight of a lone duck gliding in to the pond. It turned out to be a dapper male wood duck joining a pair of mallards. An eastern phoebe flitted around the pond edge, perching on low hanging limbs in between short flights over the water to nab insects.
Next stop was a more overgrown field with more cover for birds to hide in. There was a variety of sparrows including field, song, white-throated, and Savannah. One bird looked a tad different and turned out to be a very uncommon Lincoln’s sparrow; the only one I have seen this year. I always feel lucky to see one of those pretty sparrows. There was plenty more to see on this field edge too. Both ruby-crowned and golden-crowned kinglets, hairy woodpecker, house wren, Carolina wrens and an inquisitive hermit thrush. A brown thrasher jumped out of a brush pile, whistled at me, then dove back down out of sight.
|Photo by Phil Fowler|
A Carolina chickadee gave a hurried two-part whistle that caused all the birds to dive for cover. I have learned this chickadee call and it means only one thing: HAWK! Sure enough, a Cooper’s hawk flew right in. Cooper’s hawks are bird-eaters, prompting the winter songbird flocks to develop an Emergency Broadcast System. Cooper’s are attractive birds though.
The hawk effectively killed the action, so I headed back across the fields to my car. I ended with 42 species for an hour’s birding, thanks to the diversity of habitats present at this site.
|Photo by Lee Weber|