08 October 2012

New Additions to Fontenelle Park in Omaha

During another jaunt to survey birds about the eastern fringe of the river city, the hours-long outing on the first Sunday morning in October also meant being focused on the birdly situation at Fontenelle Park, situated on the city bluffs. During my time of presence, the clock was ticking towards noon.

Earlier times of the day involved watching and counting the myriad of birds about Carter Lake and Levi Carter Park, and each of the associated local environs, all known during the past many months.

After hours of focused effort, and once moving beyond the Carter Lake place, there was a short-stop at 30th and Ames Street, where after a respite, particular attention was given to providing sustenance to the obvious urban birds, whether House Sparrow, Rock Pigeon or European Starling.

A potato contribution was spread in portions suitable for individuals birds to get a piece upon departure, and which ended the local presence. Undoubtedly, the birds reacted as they would at any fast-food joint. This place was but an interlude, where some sort of money had to be spent to get a fresh drink of water, and then another more liquid refreshment after hours of pedaling.

With an expression to have a good day by the business associate of the company, the bicycling route continued, one pedal-and-push at a time represented by the many necessary to progress along the rough streets of Omaha. The result eventually meant arrival at the Fontenelle Park scene, some distance beyond.

A lagoon was the destination. Upon stopping the bicycle, first seen was, of course, a fine and lively bunch of Wood Ducks at the lagoon, either swimming about or mostly sitting on the edge of the island. The ducks were taking advantage of some warmth from the risen sun, on a chilly autumn morning.

This visit to this park place was especially significant because three new bird species were added to the known tally of avifauna.

First scene was along the northern edge of the lagoon, were some White-throated Sparrows were moving about and appreciating the shrubby foliage.

They have just recently arrived in the region, moving southward as is their norm for this date on the calendar.

Then, minutes later, as readily seen on this morning, once being heard nearby was an Eastern Towhee, among the branches of a relict plant in the northwest section of the park. Its vocalization was more than obvious and immediately indicative as being a towhee. Once readily seen using a spotting scope that provided an up-close look where all pertinent details were obvious, the identification was certain beyond any doubt. There were no spots on its splendid plumage, vibrant in the sunlight shining from the east.

Moments later, above the ground scenario, a woodpecker was seen going about its own efforts, on the side of a tree, which was mostly dead. The birds largish  size and other characteristics was indicative for a Hairy Woodpecker, especially in comparison to a smaller-sized Downy Woodpecker seen some moments earlier after being heard in the same place in the park.

There are many dead, or dying trees in the northwest portion of the park, and they are an obvious attraction to members of the woodpecker clan. The morning's tally also included two Northern Flickers here, and a Red-bellied Woodpecker.

For this morning visit, there were a scant 15 species observed. However, the significance of adding additional species to an Omaha park place is the key element of this Sunday.

There can be no expectations for a visit on any particular day. The excitement is the unknown variety of birds which may occur on a specific date, with the composite tally indicative. During the current year, 49 different species have been recorded, with surveys done each month, except for July.

Considering the birds, the first Sunday in October was a significant morning, where the value of park spaces was once again indicated by the occurrence of different bird species.

Another new addition to the park space is obvious in a more pronounced manner. A new sidewalk is currently under construction along the south edge of the west section of the park, and also along the west side of Fontenelle Boulevard.

This park has a lot of trees. Missing on the scene is any sense of ground-based foliage. For the extent of the park, wholly missing is a significant extent of vegetative understory. This feature is an aspect  which needs to be created and nourished in the park space.

Increasing the variety of habitat features will increase the diversity of birds which will occur among the park space.