After finding all my sculptures smashed, I decided to give that section of the park a rest. I will eventually return there and make new pieces from the remains. Today’s walk is along the western section of the park. It is an area I have come to appreciate more. In part, because fewer people venture this way and there are different points of interest. It’s fall migration time and I’m always on the look out for birds. The birds that are just passing through are of particular interest, but I also like the species that can be found here year around. I came across this really noisy Northern Flicker on a branch and snapped its picture.
This is a fairly large woodpecker. In the old guides, this would have been identified as the “Yellow-shafted” form. The feathers under the wings and tail are a bright yellow which can be seen as the bird flies. The black “mustache” extending away from its bill identifies this as being a male.
Chasing small insects among the fall leaves is this Yellow-rumped Warbler. This is the park’s most common warbler and one that hangs around longer than any other of the park’s 35 sighted warbler species. I have seen most of them, but they are easier to identify in the spring when their plumage is more colorful. Fall warblers can be a challenge and I’m still learning all their nuances. I have seen more different warbler species this year because I have tried a little harder to look for them. Still, when you are out on the land, you just never know what you will cross paths with and that is the subject of this post. I saw my first Water Chick on this expedition and managed a few decent images that I can share with you. First, can you spot the Water Chick in this photo?
I bet you found this interesting bird? It’s snow-white in color and has a bright red bill. It’s only occasionally found in this park and the habitat it prefers matches exactly the kind of landscape you see here. The Water Chick is usually found near water and also needs dense vegetation to hide and raise its young. Over the course of a couple of hours I ran into this bird several times and here are a few “portraits” I was able to manage.
The Water Chick is usually found on the ground, but reportedly, is a decent swimmer as well. Although it can fly it is reluctant to do so. It much prefers hiding and taking advantage of the local cover where it seeks out small insects and spiders that make up its diet. I surprised this one investigating a decaying log. Here’s another image of this bird.
As you might be able to discern…the Water Chick is a small bird and relies on its diminuitive size and secretive habits to go unnoticed. I believe I heard (not entirely sure though) a low piping sound when this bird noticed me and became alarmed. It high-tailed it into the loosestrife clumps as quick as can be. This is precisely the type of ground bird that I worry about being preyed upon by feral cats and in fact, ornithologists report that this species is on the decline for multiple reasons. While I was birdwatching, I did come across another bird predator. However, this one is so large that I doubt that it would bother taking a Water Chick.
I see Peregrine Falcons on occasion out at the Falls, but this is the first one I could get a picture of…unfortunately part of the tree obscures the bird, but it’s still distinctive enough to identify this large bird of prey. I have actually seen these falcons more in the city where they nest on the taller buildings in Louisville. Like other parts of the country, we nearly lost this magnificent bird to DDT poisoning. Since banning this pesticide they have made a comeback, but we could use more to help keep the pigeon population in check. I located the Water Chick one more time before heading home. It was along the fossil beds that rise above the river level which is still down from an acute lack of rain.
I was on my belly laying on the limestone rocks when these photos were taken. I think it helps give an idea of what it must be like from this bird’s perspective? After taking these images, I decided that I disturbed this bird enough and backed off. I hope it forgives my intrusion, but I had never seen one of its kind before…and maybe never will again? This bird is bound for our Gulf Coast where it spends the winter in the swamps. Turning for home, I also came across small stands of this rather large flower and thought this a nice way to end this post.
I’m not sure on the identification of this plant? Many in this stand were over six feet tall. I need to bring a guide with me into the field to help with this. In the moment, I’m happy for the color this large flower brings which contributes to the beauty of the season. Thanks for tagging along on another of my walks at the Falls of the Ohio. See you later!