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Birdwalk Highlights for 6/15: Royal River Park, Yarmouth.

One of our summertime favorite destinations, the density of certain species affords the chance to really practice learning songs, especially those of AMERICAN REDSTART (6), YELLOW WARBLER (5), and CHESTNUT-SIDED WARBLER (2). All were well seen and heard today, and individuals of all three were seen really, really well. We spent 10 minutes watching a Chestnut-sided singing constantly, often in the open at eye level! While the warbler diversity here is low, the viewing opportunities are often unmatched.


GRAY CATBIRDS (16) and SONG SPARROWS (14) were abundant as usual, and we encountered most of the riparian denizens that are expected here, such as RED-EYED VIREOS (3) and WARBLING VIREO (1), 8 AMERICAN GOLDFINCHES, 4 CEDAR WAXWINGS, 4 EASTERN PHOEBES, 4 CHIPPING SPARROWS, and one each of CAROLINA WREN, BALTIMORE ORIOLE, EASTERN KINGBIRD, and NORTHERN FLICKER.


An immature BROAD-WINGED HAWK soared overhead - showing off it's primary molt that suggests the crescents of a Red-shoulder, while a GREAT BLUE HERON waited patiently in the shallows. At least two pairs of NORTHERN ROUGH-WINGED SWALLOWS were well seen, joining a handful of TREE and 2 BARN SWALLOWS. At least 8-10 CHIMNEY SWIFTS twittered overhead and foraged up and down the river.


One "pure looking" AMERICAN BLACK DUCK joined the molting MALLARDS and family of CANADA GEESE for a good study. One RED CROSSBILL flew by overhead but went unseen. An unexpected behvioral observation we were fascinated by was a male NORTHERN CARDINAL that was "hover-gleaning" and/or flycatching along the base of a bridge over the river. I am not sure I have ever seen this behavior from a cardinal, but we were unable to find any sign of an insect hatch or other novel food source.


With breeding season in full swing, we saw lots of birds carrying food for nestlings, and several fecal sacs dropped as birds departed the nests. It's a great time of year to be out observing bird behavior, especially of our common and conspicuous yard birds, and today's outing definitely capitalized on it.


And, as icing on the cake, a MINK sprinted by the group as it foraged between the trail and the river's edge.

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