The Hermit Thrush Was the stand-out Today, 01-16-21

I got up around 7:00 this morning after a pretty good night’s sleep. It was slightly foggy in the early hours, but that burned off quickly, and the rest of the day was sunny.  It got up to 70°!

Around 7:30 I headed over to William Land Park and the WPA Rock Garden for a walk. I figured a walk through the garden and around both the larger and middle ponds would equal a mile so it would count as my #5 walk in my #52HikeChallenge. [Using a GPS tracker on the walk, I found it was actually about 1¼ miles, so… yay!]

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Even though it’s winter, the WPA Rock Garden still has some plants and flowers showing off a bit. The Strawberry Tress were especially pretty with their long panicles of urn-shaped flowers trailing down.

Strawberry Tree, Arbutus unedo

Among the birds flitting around, there were the usual Golden-Crowned Sparrows, Bushtits, hummingbirds, some Spotted Towhees, and Crows, but I was happy and surprised to see a Hermit Thrush bopping around in under some of the bushes.  They’re such sweet little things with their round speckled breasts. 

Hermit Thrush, Catharus guttatus

Don’t let their size and cuteness trick you, though. These can be tenacious birds who will defend their breeding territories with a lot of aggression. Sometimes the male gets so ramped up, he chases females away. Oops!  Kind of defeats the purpose of a breeding ground. Hah!  They’re also omnivorous, eating insects and spiders, amphibians and reptiles… and fruit from a variety of plants and trees. The one I saw was tossing leaf-litter under a Mock Orange looking for breakfast.

At the middle pond, half of the Sacred Lotus has been dredged up, and all that remains are the dead stalks of last year’s plants. All of the dead stuff will have to go eventually to make room for next spring’s outcropping of the plants.  Less lotus plants means more water for the waterfowl, but I didn’t see anything “exotic” in or around the pond, just the usual ducks and geese.

On the lawn, there was a small cadre of Northern Flickers looking for ants and grubs, and in another area there was a small flock of Dark-Eyed Juncos.  Up in the trees were Lesser Goldfinches and Audubon’s Warblers trying to get the seeds out of the seed pods left open and dangling on the  Sycamore Trees.

In one of the Italian Cypress trees behind the amphitheater on the grounds, there was a pair of squirrels making out.  I guess if you’re going to have sex, high up in the heavy greenery of a cypress is a good place to do it.  Only nosy naturalists would notice you there.

Eastern Fox Squirrel, Sciurus niger

At the larger pond, there was again the usual crowd of ducks and geese, but also on the lawns there were Mourning Doves, warblers, and Western Bluebirds.  In the trees on the far side of the pond were Turkey Vultures, preening and stretching in the early morning sunlight before taking off for long kettling flights overhead.

Western Bluebird, Sialia Mexicana

It was such a lovely morning. I walked for about 3 hours before heading back home.

Species List:

  1. Audubon’s Warbler, Setophaga coronata auduboni
  2. Bald Cypress Tree, Taxodium distichum
  3. Black Phoebe, Sayornis nigricans
  4. Borage, Borago officinalis [blue “beaked” flowers]
  5. Buff Orpington Duck, Anas platyrhynchos domesticus var. Orpington
  6. Bunch-flowered Daffodil, Narcissus tazetta
  7. California Sycamore, Platanus racemose
  8. Canada Goose, Branta canadensis
  9. Candelabra Aloe, Aloe arborescens
  10. Common Correa, Correa reflexa [trumpet shaped pink flowers]
  11. Common Sugarbush, Spicebush, Protea repens
  12. Coyote Tobacco, Nicotiana attenuata
  13. Crested Duck, Anas platyrhynchos domesticus var. Crested
  14. Crow, American Crow, Corvus brachyrhynchos
  15. Dark-Eyed Junco, Junco hyemalis
  16. Double-Crested Cormorant, Phalacrocorax auratus
  17. Douglas’ Squirrel, Tamiasciurus douglasii [brown with white belly]
  18. Dutch Iris, Iris × hollandica
  19. Eastern Fox Squirrel, Sciurus niger
  20. Elephant’s-Ears, Bergenia crassifolia [like a begonia, bouquet of pink flowers]
  21. Ginkgo, Ginkgo biloba
  22. Golden Crowned Sparrow, Zonotrichia atricapilla
  23. Great Egret, Ardea alba
  24. Greater Honeywort, Cerinthe major [spotted leaves, “shrimp-like” flowers]
  25. Green Hellebore, Helleborus viridis
  26. Hairy Violet, Viola hirta
  27. Heavenly Bamboo, Nandina domestica [bright red berries]
  28. Hedgehog Holly, European Holly, Ilex aquifolium
  29. Hen-and-chickens Echeveria, Echeveria secunda
  30. Hermit Thrush, Catharus guttatus
  31. Italian Cypress, Mediterranean Cypress, Cupressus sempervirens
  32. Japanese Aralia, Fatsia japonica [stalks of white flowers, huge leaves]
  33. Japanese Wisteria, Wisteria floribunda
  34. Large-flower Pink-Sorrel, Oxalis debilis [clover-like leaves, pink flowers]
  35. Lesser Goldfinch, Spinus psaltria
  36. Liquid Ambar, American Sweetgum, Liquidambar styraciflua
  37. Love-in-a-Mist, Nigella damascena
  38. Mallard Duck, Anas platyrhynchos
  39. Mourning Dove, Zenaida macroura
  40. Northern Flicker, Colaptes auratus
  41. Oregon Grape, Barberry, Berberis aquifolium
  42. Pekin Duck, Anas platyrhynchos domesticus var. Pekin
  43. Red Gum Eucalyptus, River Redgum, Eucalyptus camaldulensis
  44. Redvein Abutilon, Callianthe picta [lantern-like flowers]
  45. Rosemary, Salvia rosmarinus
  46. Sacred Lotus, Nelumbo nucifera
  47. Spanish Butcher’s-Broom, Ruscus hypophyllum [tiny white flowers in the middle of the leaf]
  48. Spotted Towhee, Pipilo maculatus
  49. Strawberry Tree, Arbutus unedo
  50. Sulphur Grevillea, Grevillea juniperina ssp. sulphurea [orange spidery flowers]
  51. Swan Goose, Anser cygnoides [can be white, or gray/brown, knob on the bill]
  52. Swedish Blue Duck, Anas platyrhynchos domesticus var. Swedish Blue
  53. Turkey Vulture, Cathartes aura
  54. Western Bluebird, Sialia mexicana
  55. Wood Duck, Aix sponsa