Yesterday, I decided to count birds at the small lake at the end of the trail that runs through our neighborhood. I ride my bike along there all the time, but I’ve never walked around and really tried to check out the birds.

When I arrived, I was greeted by a chickadee who immediately hopped into a tree that seemed filled with singing birds. I listened for a few minutes and then headed down to the water to see what birds were hanging around. In the summer, it’s mostly egrets and herons, but yesterday it was filled with birds wintering over.

I ate my sandwich at a bench on the lakefront where I was joined by a couple of coots who eyed me suspiciously. What really surprised me were the fishing buoys hanging in all the trees. Careless casters had decorated the trees as for an angler’s Christmas.

After lunch, I walked along the lake, which was filled with ring-billed gulls and more American coots. I easily forget that some gulls like lakes and so I’m always pleasantly surprised to see them floating on an inland lake. A few soared overhead, the sun shining behind their wings in a way that made them glow brilliant against the crisp blue sky. Gulls have always been favorites of mine, despite that incident back in ’90.

Other ducks bobbed along the far shore, but even with binoculars, I couldn’t make out what kind of ducks they were. Probably northern shovelers or mallards, but too far to tell for sure.

I did get a good look at a new bird for my life list, the double-crested cormorant. They bobbed along beyond the gulls, looking down their sharp-looking beaks at the world. The only picture I got was this, very blurry, of one flying by.

Double-crested Cormorant

After the lake, I walked back up to the woods and wandered among the cedar and oak. In a clearing I found a labyrinth trail and walked through it, winding toward the center and back out again. Along the way, I caught a glimpse of another blue jay.

Before returning to the car, I saw a small flock of chipping sparrows and even got a shot of this guy:

Chipping Sparrow

My favorite, though, was this shot of a black-crested titmouse, seed in mouth:

Black-crested Titmouse

I love watching these little guys hop around in my backyard. I think it’s those huge black eyes or maybe that pointy head, but somehow, the black-crested titmouse has become my favorite backyard bird.

And, speaking of backyards, here are my official numbers for Day 4 of The Great Backyard Bird Count:

  • 2 Northern shovelers
  • 4 Double-crested cormorants
  • 15 American coots
  • 19 Ring-billed gulls
  • 1 Blue jay
  • 1 Carolina Chickadee
  • 1 Black-crested titmouse
  • 1 Bewick’s wren
  • 6 Chipping Sparrows