new life birds & hatchling turtles at the pond

Today was another beautiful day at the pond. I went around midday this time, and saw three more life birds! This is the first time I’ve actively tried to catch species on their spring migration, and so far I have to say it’s been well worth the effort.

Before I reached the pond, I saw a Baltimore Oriole, in the neighborhood about two blocks from the park. This time there was no mistaking its bright orange plumage, especially after seeing the more rust-colored Orchard Oriole the other day.

Once I arrived at the pond, I found the Yellow-billed Cuckoo still hanging around in the trees that were dripping Eastern Tent Caterpillars. This time I got a good look at its distinctive tail (not that there was any confusion, with its equally distinctive beak). I also saw a couple of Cliff Swallows dashing around, which I’ve only seen once before, at a barn in Dexter, MI. They’re relatively distinctive, though, with their dark square tails and light bellies.

About halfway around the pond I accidentally flushed an American Bittern. At least, I think it was a bittern; I peered at it from the other side of the pond, but it was pretty well into the reeds. Its head looked like a bittern, but the coloring could have also made it an immature Green Heron. I’ll look for it again and hopefully get a firmer ID one way or the other.

Back at the pond entrance, I spotted a couple of swallows on the electrical wires, which turned out to be Rough-winged Swallows. At first I thought they were just the Cliff Swallows at rest, and nearly didn’t look at them through the binoculars. I’m glad I did, though, as they had the distinctive dusty color and forked tail.

Besides the birds, I saw a decent selection of the turtles that appear at the pond. Just after discovering the wader, I spotted a hatchling turtle swimming around near the bank. I couldn’t resist plucking it out and taking some photos of it. It was a Red-eared Slider, a lovely little pastel green color. After photographing it and showing it to the two other people who passed by, I plopped it back into the water, where it promptly swam away into the mud.

I also saw at least one adult Eastern Redbelly Turtle, along with several Painted Turtles and Red-eared Sliders. As an aside, I hadn’t realized that Mud Turtles were so small; the ones I thought were Mud Turtles last fall were likely actually Eastern Redbelly Turtles, and the ones I thought were juveniles were likely actually the Mud Turtles.

new life birds & hatchling turtles at the pond

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