Lake Saracen 4/19/13

This past Friday I went to Saracen to pick up some migrating water birds.  Stan went on the trail a couple of times earlier and we had golfed the week before and hiked a trail at the adjacent Regional Park and had had gotten several FOS migrants and summer residents:

  • Green Heron
  • Caspian Tern (Stan’s)
  • Black-necked Stilt
  • Least Sandpiper
  • Yellow-billed Cuckoo
  • Eastern Kingbird
  • Red-eyed Vireo
  • Warbling Vireo
  • Summer Tanager
  • Scarlet Tanager (Stan’s)
  • Baltimore Oriole

We got some other good birds that week as well including tons of Pileated Woodpeckers and several Marsh Wrens that were singing.

 

We chose Saracen because of the reported Soras and Virginia Rail.  Stan met up with some other birders on Tuesday and saw the Sora and Rail.  I couldn’t get out there until Friday and I was afraid that I would be too late.  I got out there at around 2 pm, the water was high from a storm the previous day, and the wind was vicious.  All these factors led me to believe that I would not see the rail.  I got out on the trail and immediately found several swallows.  The swallows were all over and this area had a variety of excellent habitat for all species of swallows.  The swallows were found over the parking lot, lake, trail, and grassy fields.  The fragmented bottomland hardwoods that were scattered along the trail suited the Tree Swallows and Northern Rough-wingeds while the banks and docks suited the Barn and Cliff Swallows.  Chimney Swifts were mixed in and were flying at eye level, which I found odd.  The trail is atop a levee that separates the lake from the woods or grassy fields.  This berm that is created was utilized by the swallows and swifts.

Chimney Swift leaving

Chimney Swift leaving

One the water were a few Pied-billed Grebes along with Great Blue Herons and Double-crested Cormorants.  Canada Geese and Blue-winged Teal foraged along the banks.  Along the banks were several Red-winged Blackbirds, Common Grackles, White-throated Sparrows, and Savannah Sparrows.  In the woods, which border a small pond, were a few woodland species found.  Cardinals sang while White-throats and Yellow-rumps called from the brush or trees.  An occasional Chickadee and Carolina Wren could be seen or heard as well.  In the grassy field an Eastern Meadowlark sang and several Mockingbirds were seen.  A flock of Starlings foraged along the trail and a few Fish Crow called around the trail.

American Robin

American Robin

Towards the corner of the lake lies about 100 yds of prime reed habitat.  This was where I hoped to find my rail.  I was afraid that the water was too high to see rallids.  As I approached I could see a Teal among the reeds and a few Savannahs and Red-wings.  I stopped after going about half of the length of the reeds.  Here I played a Virginia Rail call.  In the recording I played, there was a Sora calling in the background.  This prompted at least 8 Sora among the reeds to break out in their call:  “whee-ee bee-bee-bee-bee…”  Several Sora came out from the reeds and would feed out in the open along with a couple of Coots.  I watched several Sora and played the Rail call a couple times to try to draw it out.  After a while the Rail called back from among a thick section of reeds.  I never did get to see the Rail but I did get to hear it.  While among the reeds I watched a couple of Marsh Wrens chase each other and another sing incessantly.  Swamp Sparrows darted in and out among the reeds, calling occasionally.

Sora

Sora

 

American Coot

American Coot

On the way back, I scanned the water for any possible gulls, terns, or osprey.  Unfortunately, there were none.  I saw the swifts, swallows and sparrows again.  While I neared the parking lot I spotted the silhouette of a sandpiper.  A got nearer and saw that this was the Spotted Sandpiper.  I got close enough to get some fair photographs.  This sandpiper was a FOS.

Spotted Sandpiper

Spotted Sandpiper

The amount of species seen was not at all indicative of the conditions.  I was surprised to get so many species and a few uncommon ones as well.  Here is all that we saw:

  1. Canada Goose
  2. Blue-winged Teal
  3. Double-crested Cormorant
  4. Great Blue Heron
  5. Pied-billed Grebe
  6. Turkey Vulture
  7. American Coot
  8. Sora
  9. Virginia Rail
  10. Spotted Sandpiper
  11. Rock Pigeon
  12. Chimney Swift
  13. Fish Crow
  14. Barn Swallow
  15. Tree Swallow
  16. Northern Rough-winged Swallow
  17. Cliff Swallow
  18. Carolina Chickadee
  19. Carolina Wren
  20. Marsh Wren
  21. American Robin
  22. Northern Mockingbird
  23. European Starling
  24. Yellow-rumped Warbler
  25. Savannah Sparrow
  26. Swamp Sparrow
  27. White-throated Sparrow
  28. Northern Cardinal
  29. Brown-headed Cowbird
  30. Red-winged Blackbird
  31. Common Grackle
  32. Eastern Meadowlark
  33. American Goldfinch
  34. House Sparrow
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