With an intent and purpose on a Wednesday morning, two birders with an interest in habitat conservation ventured forth on an onerous task, about the northern extent of Hummel Park.
It was warm and humid - as fog clouds were dissipating moment to moment - and remained. Biting sorts of bugs were not pesky enough to be troublesome. The greatest bother were the many spider webs slung hither and yon, at a scene mostly undisturbed by walkers for weeks as the access roads to the park are closed due to adjacent flooding along the Missouri River.
The duo visiting this day parked in the lot north of Ponca Creek, then walked into the northern hills, along the creek again and finished up at the point of origin, near the hilltop shelter and picnic grounds. The time expended for this task was much longer than this account might convey.
For a mid-August day, there was a fine variety of bird species. The morning's tally included:
Photogenic turkey vulture.
- Wild Turkey - flock with three adult females comprised at least 14, including large juveniles
- Turkey Vulture - two were consistently seen soaring above the park, and near the end of the outing, the reason for their ongoing presence became obvious. A juvenile which could only fly short distances was seen. It was resplendent in its downy gray-colored neck feathers. It was trusting enough to allow a close approach to get a portrait. It seems that due to the lack of human visitors to the park - because of no access for vehicular traffic - that the vultures were able to successfully nest. Best wishes to this youngster which should be able to get along well until it can safely fly from any local disturbance.
- Cooper's Hawk - the reason crows and blue jays were adamant in expressing their displeasure.
- Broad-winged Hawk - three were noted soaring above the hills; one was an obvious juvenile. With the regular sightings of this species in this vicinity earlier in the season (i.e., mid-May when vehicular access was still allowed), this raptor was able to raise its young. This is the first known instance of confirmed breeding.
- Mourning Dove - a couple seen, but more readily noted just to the east in a mown field adjacent to the water-covered floodplain
- Yellow-billed Cuckoo - a few readily heard in the hills and along Ponca Creek
- Ruby-throated Hummingbird - flitting about the hills and along the creek
- Belted Kingfisher - heard just eastward of the park, probably fishing along the east side of river road
- Red-bellied Woodpecker - load and boisterous during their day
- Downy Woodpecker - sublime in their expression
- Eastern Wood-Pewee - notable for its call at the picnic ground hilltop
- Yellow-throated Vireo - heard
- Red-eyed Vireo - various calls indicated this bird was about
- Blue Jay - unmistakable in its vociferous manner
- American Crow - expressive in their own way about something they did not like
- Purple Martin - calls heard above the hills
- Barn Swallow - near the day camp grounds where the contractors drive in to construct the new nature center building
- Black-capped Chickadee - a few groups with indications of young of the year
- Tufted Titmouse - especially expressive near the hilltop, with an interesting array of calls, indicating an expectation that a small group of at least four included young of the year
- White-breasted Nuthatch - always a welcomed sound in the forest
- Carolina Wren - exuberantly singing along Ponca Creek
- House Wren - sublime in its voice this late in the season, as noted along the creek and in the hills
- American Robin - worthy of a mention
- Gray Catbird - a "meow" heard
- Brown Thrasher - seen once among the shrubbery of the north hills
- Summer Tanager - heard along Ponca Creek; on 5 August 2003, a juvenile bird was noted, so it is very possible that the bird noted today was the parent of some silent youngster
- Scarlet Tanager - those seen along the creek included a juvenile; this was the first notation for this species in 2011; on 6 August 2003, a pair with a juvenile were noted in the park, a known haven for the species since 1990
- Chipping Sparrow - near the north side parking lot
- Northern Cardinal - some itty-bits of red colored hues flitting through the trees were reminders for these colorful songsters
- Rose-breasted Grosbeak - heard along Ponca Creek
- Indigo Bunting - several noted along the creek
- Baltimore Oriole - among the arboreal splendor of the creek
- American Goldfinch - characteristic in their expression as they coursed through the park's air space
The 33 species noted during the four-hour outing is nothing especially grand for the variety of species noted. What was significant and knowingly appreciated was the obvious expression by several species which confirm their breeding success.
An undisturbed park setting was an obvious factor - based upon knowledge and decades of focused learning - for the breeding bird observations made this late in the breeding season.
A final image - shown below - conveys what the future may portend for this park, once the roads are clear and the disc golf "gang" continues their focused effort to unknowingly destroy or ruin forest features so important to birds in what is - for a final season - an undisturbed natural setting.
Barbie does not like the OMDGA because they are ruining the forest!
A salute to the birds and their season so vividly expressed to a couple of two-legged visitors on an August day.