Thursday, September 18, 2014

A Good Birding Spot is Good at Any Season

Each spring I write about the wonderful birds that can be found at Latta Park in Dilworth, not far from uptown Charlotte. It draws birders in droves for three weeks or so every year during April and May. This birding hotspot is pretty much forgotten for the rest of the year, even though another full migration takes place in the fall. Occasionally however a local birder will take a look in September and usually will come away with a pretty decent list of birds.
I had heard that a nice list of warblers was found there earlier this week so I ran over there one afternoon during lunch. It was very quiet at first but soon some activity picked up. Eastern wood-pewees started softly calling and soon I could pick them out flying out from their perches on dead twigs to grab insects. They are a common and conspicuous breeding and migrant flycatcher, but do not possess plumage that is eye-catching.
A small warbler darted out from a shrub and made some acrobatic sorties in pursuit of insects too. It was an American redstart, easily identified at a distance by the large yellow patches on the fanned tail. Another warbler crawled along the larger limbs of the oaks, an immature black and white warbler. A bird with lots of yellow on the underside rustled some leaves at the end of a branch. With a little patience I was able to tell it was a magnolia warbler. A drabber bird appeared near it, an immature chestnut-sided warbler.
More flycatchers put in appearances, a nicely colored great-crested flycatcher and a smaller flycatcher of the genus Empidonax.  The members of this genus are notoriously hard to identify to species; and despite a pretty good look I had to mark this one down as “unidentified Empidonax”. I heard a rush of wings close to me, turned, and found that a red-tailed hawk had landed on the ground just a few feet from me. It was undoubtedly trying to surprise one of the many gray squirrels there.

So I was again reminded that if the birds come in spring, they will come again in the fall. I recommend you too should check out this accessible and easy stroll through an uptown oasis.

American Redstart by Jeff Lewis

Eastern Wood-pewee by Phil Fowler

Magnolia Warbler by Jeff Lewis