Friday, July 01, 2016

Broad Run Park

21st Century Parks is developing the area around Floyd's Fork as it winds through Jefferson County. They are a donor funded group, with many wealthy corporations and individuals supporting them, so they have been able to do a great job without the limitations of county government. We enjoy going to their two original parks, Beckley Creek and Pope Lick, to walk, go birding and look for wildflowers.
Now they have opened two more parks downstream, and we finally managed to find time this morning to check them out. Broad Run Park is just off Bardstown Road, and still in Jefferson County, although it feels like you are driving clear into central Kentucky. They have a very nice splash park and playground near the entrance, and the road winds up and down hills, by-passing some property which is still privately owned. Since it just opened in the last month or so, we found nice signs pointing to trails that don't seem to exist yet. The Limestone Gorge exists, but we couldn't find the trail down into it. Well, it's still a work in progress. The Louisville Loop is a paved trail extending through the entire park system, and very pleasant to walk on. Just watch for speeding cyclists as they come down the hills!

The park people have done a terrific job planting native wildflowers along the Loop, and we enjoyed them immensely. It's a challenge to identify them when I get home though!
The next park north of Broad Run is Turkey Run Park, named for a tributary of Floyd's Fork. At the top of the hill is a big yellow silo, approximately 6 stories tall! I declined the climb, but Dick made it with little trouble for a bird's eye view. They have a big barn that looks like it's available for events and some nice picnic areas. Again, the "trails" aren't always completed.
We heard many different kinds of birds this morning, starting with a Yellow Billed Cuckoo, but were unable to find many of them. Several Gold Finches flew by, and one Indigo Bunting perched nearby to serenade us as we climbed back up the hill to our car.
Several Barn Swallows flew around the information kiosk, so I knew there should be a nest around somewhere, and sure enough, there it was just under the roof. Looks like these guys are just about ready to fledge!

Friday, June 10, 2016

Friday Morning Steps and Birding

Red Headed Woodpecker
Beckley Creek is the Century 21 park closest to my house, and since I was out that way this morning, I decided to get my 10,000 steps for the day started and do a little birding at the same time. I can reliably find Red Headed Woodpeckers here along the banks of Floyds Fork.
Red Winged Blackbird
And I usually under-count the numbers of Red Winged Blackbirds if I send in a list to eBird because there are so many of them in the meadows.
Indigo Bunting
I've learned to look carefully to tell the difference between the Indigo Bunting and the Blue Grosbeak, although I didn't find any Grosbeaks this morning. Meadowlarks and Common Yellowthroats called from the grass, but wouldn't come up to see me when I played their calls on my bird app.
Song Sparrow
I can always count on the Song Sparrows to entertain as I walk around. A Northern Bob White called from a tree, instead of the grass, then flew over my head to the next field to defend his territory.
Common Milkweed
Butterfly Weed
 The various milkweeds are beginning to bloom, but I only saw the little white and yellow butterflies.
Cliff Swallow
Other walkers greeted me, asking what I'd found, or sharing what they had seen. One couple was amazed by all the swallows under a bridge, so I headed in that direction. I'm pretty good at recognizing Barn Swallows and Tree Swallows, but these looked like Cliff Swallows, which I had only seen before out west.
A colony of Cliff Swallows have built their jug shaped nests of mud under a bridge over Floyd's Fork. They are protected and yet have easy access to bugs around the river.

Some of the babies are leaving the nest and learning to fly, or preening after getting a bug from the surface of the water. What a great way to spend the morning! And I got my 10,000 steps in with no trouble!

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Birding Between Thunderstorms

Cedar Waxwing
A new group named Botanica is working to create a botanical garden in Louisville, on the former site of an automobile impound lot. The cars are gone, and the poison hemlock covers the field. They asked Beckham Bird Club to do a bird census today, so several club members met this morning, tromping through the mud and puddles from last night's thunderstorm. Rob is one of my favorite birding leaders because he knows the song and call of every bird in the field guide. It's always a good chance for me to brush up on my bird songs. We must have found about 30 Cedar Waxwings throughout the morning.
Yellow Warbler
Indigo Bunting
Yellow Warblers and Indigo Buntings were present in good numbers too, calling from the brush and trees every few yards it seemed.
Least Flycatcher
Baltimore Oriole
 We had to work a little harder to finally see this Flycatcher and the Oriole. All morning we were surprised by the lack of other expected warblers. Chickadees, Nuthatches and Tufted Titmice, normally abundant birds at any time, must have been feeding somewhere else today.
I've been hearing the eerie echoing call of the Veery several days this week in my backyard, but have been unable to find it. The only other time I've ever heard one was at Magee Marsh in Ohio a couple years ago. They are members of the Thrush family, and resemble young Robins, but the song is distinctive. They migrate through Kentucky on the way to breeding territory in southern Canada, and I've never seen one locally. Today, I went out with my phone app, trying to call one in so I could prove it was actually here. After I gave up and came back inside, the darn little thing sat on the fence and sang for me. The photos are a little fuzzy, since I had to take them through a slightly dirty window. If I kept a yard list, this would definitely be a new addition!

PS - some birding friends say this is really a Gray-cheeked Thrush, which is a life bird for us!

Saturday, May 07, 2016

Birds and Pollywogs at Bernheim

It's Derby Day in Louisville, and the city celebrates the horse race for two weeks before it actually happens. I used to go to the track when trust department customers from the bank where I worked invited me, but haven't been for years and don't miss it a bit. It's something that's fun to do - once or twice. Does that mean I'm getting old?
Today we went to Pollywogs at Bernheim Forest with my daughter and two grandchildren. The boy is a veteran of this program for pre-schoolers, but it was the first time for our granddaughter. They talked about rainbows and made crafts with all the colors of the rainbow. Miss Whitney does a wonderful job with these very young children.
I've learned to pack a picnic lunch and camera for the day. The cell phone takes good photos of the kids in action, but I need a better lens for any birds or flowers I might find. The silo area just below the education building, is a great place for birding. In fact, you could do a Big Sit and come up with a decent list in a short time. Getting close enough for photos is more of a challenge though. One of the first birds I heard was a Baltimore Oriole, way up in the sycamores where I couldn't find him. Down in the woods, a Wood Peewee called, and out in the meadow several Field Sparrows called from the grass. Flickers nest above the picnic tables too.
The Purple Martin houses attract large numbers of Martins, while a nearby Bluebird box has a closed-circuit camera showing the chicks, who will be ready to fly any time now.
At the observation room in the education building, the neighboring birds come to chow down at the feeders....

...while the gardens bloom profusely. I'm glad to find little tree seedlings invading their gardens just like we have at home.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

The Last Day

Bell Rock
You know how vacations are. Just as you get to know your way around without using the GPS every time, it's time to go home. We decided to do a "little" hiking on the red rocks south of Sedona. The Courthouse Rock Loop is only 4.2 miles, Dick said. The wind has died down, so we bundled up and went hiking. My Fitbit said we had covered over 6.5 miles before we made it back to the car.
Cathedral Rock
People like to give names to rock formations, depending on what shape they see. There is a Snoopy Rock and Coffeepot Rock that I understand. This one is called Cathedral Rock, and I don't see a cathedral in it at all. Many of the formation have legends to go with them. The Seven Brothers are about seven Native Americans who refused to be moved to a reservation when the army took away the rest of their tribe.
Courthouse Rock
I'm never sure if I'm using the correct name or not here in the blog, but the rocks are fascinating to me. The soft sandstone has lots of holes for critters to live in, almost like a high rise condo.
Flat Rock Stream bed
We walked up and down over rocks and logs along the trail. At some spots, the rocks are flat, and you can see where the water washes down when it rains. One place has the beginning of a canyon in the red sandstone.
Climbing on Bell Rock
The Forest Service operates the areas around Sedona, with lots of signs about staying on the trails, and not damaging the fragile desert eco-system. Lots of people came to enjoy the rocks this morning. We were relieved to see a sign that this climbing was allowed. There were dedicated hikers wearing shorts, sleeveless shirts, sneakers and a water bottle as the sped down the trail. Other pairs of walkers talked non-stop.

 We shared the trails with horses and mountain bikers. Some of the bikers had little bells to warn folks they were coming, and others almost ran you down if you didn't hear them coming. Sorry, I don't see the fun in this. Some of the bikers were peddling for all they were worth. Of course, I was limping by the end of the morning with sore toes that have bothered me all week.
Ash-throated Flycatcher
Western Scrub Jay
Dick and I took our time, enjoying the wildflowers and looking (without too much success) for some of the many birds we heard singing. The advantage of birding with local people is their ability to identify more of the birds by song, and to know where to look for certain species.

We found a website with wildflowers from this part of Arizona and it will take a while to look up all the flowers we saw. It's been a great vacation, and I'd like to come back to the birding festival again some time. Tomorrow I hope we don't get bounced around to bad trying to fly over all the bad weather in the middle of the country on our way home.