Coyote Mercury

words, birds and whatever else by James Brush

Birding the Neighborhood Trail

Reflections 1

They said it would snow today. The blizzard of aught-nine was on its way. There were some flurries around lunchtime, enough to enjoy the feeling of being snowed upon, but soon the temperature dropped and the sun came out to create the kind of brilliant and crisp day we so rarely see here. A great day for hiking while wearing a coat, another novelty of sorts.

I followed the north-running stream through the neighborhood greenbelt, stopping on the little footbridge to try to ID a bird call I wasn’t familiar with. Soon, I saw the bird, which turned out to be a Belted Kingfisher. It’s only the second time I’ve seen one and the first time on this little stretch of trail.

I stood on the bridge, kind of losing track of time and letting it flow along with the water below me, content to be outside and cold and remembering those fierce days we had last summer on which cold and water seemed such impossibilies.

Reflections 2

After coming back to reality, I took a few pictures of the play of colors on the water and tried to figure out where that kingfisher had got to. I knew which tree he was in, but from where I stood, he was too well hidden, but I was treated to the surprise of a Great Egret hanging out in a nearby tree. These guys are pretty common around here, but they’re usually a little farther downstream at the pond rather than around the bridge.

Great Egret in a Tree

I spent a little more time looking around for the kingfisher since they’re relatively new birds for me and I’ve never gotten a picture of one, but it was not to be. I continued along the trail to the pond where I counted 51 Gadwalls dabbling and quacking around in circles. I’m sure there were more as I could see the silhouettes of a number of ducks in the glare on the pond, but I couldn’t tell what they were. Among the Gadwalls, I saw three American Wigeons. It’s nice to see the ducks are filtering back for the winter.

Speaking of coming back for the winter, the other day I saw an accipiter (most likely a Sharp-shinned Hawk) like the one that lurked around my yard last winter make a pass over the bird feeder. I wonder if it’s the same one.

In addition to the ducks, I saw Yellow-rumped Warblers and, I think, a Ruby-crowned Kinglet, but he flew off before I could be sure.

It wasn’t long before the cold seeped through my coat and my hat and heading home seemed like a good idea, though I wanted to stick around and look for that Red-shouldered Hawk who’s been refusing to let me get a good picture of him all year. Maybe next time.

Reflections 3


  1. Nice post and pictures! Belted Kingfisher is a great bird to learn by sound. Their call is so distinctive and you can hear it from quite far away.

    • Thanks, Mikael. I’m finally starting to learn to make a few ID’s by ear, which is especially nice because I can filter the ones I know from the ones I need to spend a little more time searching for.

  2. Wonderful photos, I love the reflected autumnal colours. I’m looking for kingfishers too, different species though././..

  3. Beautiful post, love the photos and the birds. Kingfishers are one of my favorites. I usually see a few every year, but not this one. My timing must have been off, for they are not uncommon around here.

    • Thanks, Deb. I’d like to get a better look at one sometime. I don’t know if they’re unusual around here or if I just don’t know how to find them yet.

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