Monday, October 5, 2015

Hot, Thirsty Birds Attracted to Little Spring (Part 2)

I recently posted on hot, thirsty birds attracted to a small spring bubbling from beneath a city street trickling into a small ravine at John Hinkel Park in North Berkeley. Not exactly an ooooh aaaaah knock 'em dead amazingly beautiful kind of place, but still! A place worthy of attention and recognition - and yes, exultation! - because it is a place revered and sought out by many birds for its year-round water source in a precious baptismal fountain where they're able to find succor and relief in an oasis like setting of refreshing water in dry conditions.

As the spring trickles down a small rock face, water pools ever so gently in tiny basins that attract birds to come and cool off and dip in without fear. On a return visit to check if the spring was still flowing, I'm happy to report it is, with a seeming increase in its modest discharge.
I'm initially dismayed by the absence of bird activity, but things change real soon the quieter I am, the more patient I wait, the finer tuned my senses become. Tree top activity springs to life with, first, frantic activity by several Chestnut-backed Chickadees, then crashing the party a few Juncos, followed by a Scrub Jay, a Brown Creeper, and soon, a family of Lesser Goldfinches flies in above the spring's lower foliage. In a flash, I spot a mirage of a creature high up, resembling some kind of Warbler I can't zoom in on in time to identify. It might have been a Hermit or Chestnut-sided or Tennessee, but I'll never know.

Soon, a recognizable little guy pops into view - the black masked, yellow-faced Townsend's Warbler, always a joy to spot. And - surprise of surprises - a Black and White Warbler appears ever so fleetingly in the same tree, but chased off by a Spotted Towhee after a very brief glimpse and no photograph. Dang. First ever sighting of a B 'n W Warbler, though, in the Bay Area.

At the spring, the Warblers give way to the big Adult Male Greenbacked Lesser Goldfinch and his two female consorts. They perch at the lip of the spring, flick their feathers about, peck their beaks into the water, shake their little bodies free of excess moisture, and contentedly sit there for a good long while enjoying their private little bath while I capture it all on film (as I was able to do with the Townsend's Warbler the week before).

It's a special place, this woodland oasis in our urban midst, where city birds live a wild life, unnoticed, unmolested by all - except maybe a stealth raptor such as the predacious Red-shouldered or Sharp-shinned Hawk known to frequent the bosque in search of small unsuspecting songbirds. . .not this time, though, and the air fills with sweet tweets.


Townsend's Warbler bathing in small spring:

Lesser Goldfinches enjoying a nice dip: