04 May 2013

Significant Bird Sightings at East Omaha Parks

In the past few days, there have been several notable bird sightings at different parks in east Omaha. The records are significant either for being the first instance of occurrence, or a view that had previously happened decades in the past.

Swallow Gathering at Carter Lake

The cold morning of April 27th was a special day at the lake. There had been a record cold temperature during the night (ca, 28o), and there was still a sharp chill in the early hours of the morning during my bicycle bird survey. In addition to the many cormorants and pelicans, conditions provided a unique opportunity to capture a dramatic image of a pair of Tree Swallows, warm together, lakeside. It was a poignant perspective, which was certainly appreciated and distinctive among the many hours spent afield to determine bird occurrence. The two swallows had an obvious affinity for each other.

There was a mixed group of swallows, including Barn, Northern Rough-winged and Tree just a short distance of less than 20 feet further north on the west side of the lake. None of them were so expressive.

While focused upon the swallows, a miscreant was eyeing my bicycle, with an intenent to take it away, as his perspective seemed to be that it had been abandoned. How mistaken he was, as he walked away quickly upon my approach, realizing that it would be hazardous to him if my bicycle was taken from its place of repose. Thankfully my transportation was not taken by a bum.

Unusual Featheration of Robin

A robin with white feathers on its head has been present at Memorial Park. It was seen previous to April 24th, when this picture was taken, and then subsequently, including May 2nd.

This robin was present mid-afternoon on May 6th.

Wilson's Phalarope

Two were seen on April 27th at Fontenelle Park, a place where they had never been previously recorded.

Lesser Scaup

A Lesser Scaup was diving through the waters of Wood Creek Pond at Elmwood Park on April 28th. This would not have been possible a few months ago, but the Omaha Parks and Recreation Department removed tons of sediment last year, deeping the waters. This was the first instance of this duck at Elmwood Park.

Turkey in the City

A single, female Wild Turkey was prevalent in the early morning at Bemis Park, on the north side of Cuming Street, west of 33rd Street. This is the second report of an urban turkey, as one was previously reported at Mercer Woods, to the west at 39th and Cuming Streets.

Carter Lake Birdlife

Carter Lake places continue to provide unexpected surprises.

On April 30th, the two most prominent were nine Cattle Egrets along the "beach" area of Levi Carter Park. This species has never been seen here. At the same spot, there was a single Long-billed Dowitcher. The last records for this shorebird here were in November 1929.

A Blue-gray Gnatcatcher at the south end of Levi Carter Pond, was also a new record for the locality.

Since 2002, a myriad of records are available which denote the occurrence of at least 159 species about the lake.

Cinnamon Teal

On April 30th, a single Cinnamon Teal was seen at the Fontenelle Park lagoon, in company with sixteen Blue-winged Teal. Its ruddy color was easily noticed when first seen floating about. This is the first record for this species at an east Omaha park.

Other waterfowl present that morning were 63 Canada Goose, including six goslings, Wood Duck (31), Northern Shoveler (7), four Pied-billed Grebe and two Lesser Scaup, There were also three Spotted Sandpiper and a Green Heron.

Red-shouldered Hawk

The most recent observation was a Red-shouldered Hawk along Happy Hollow Creek. It was first noted on May 2nd, sitting on a tree snag as easily seen from the nearby sidewalk, about 10-11 a.m. Then on the 3rd, it was once again perched within a few feet of its other perch, once again relaxed in its posture, and looking around the creek woods. To document the occurrence, again, the bird was slowly approached to within about 15-20 feet. It showed no indication of being disturbed, and did not depart from its vantage point.

This species of hawk was last seen in the area in 1988, when noted at Elmwood Park by Clyde and Emma Johnson.

What is surprising is that there have not been any reports of this hawk at its more typical haunts, specifically Fontenelle Forest or other habitats along the Missouri River.

This hawk was present at the same place and about the same time on May 4th. It was also observed in mid-afternoon on May 6th.

Additions to Fontenelle Park

A single Double-crested Cormorant and one Common Yellowthroat are the latest additions to the bird fauna of Fontenelle Park. Both were associated with the lagoon habitat.

All information and images presented here are © 2013 James E. Ducey and may not be replicated or used elsewhere without written permission. All U.S.A. and international rights reserved.