Fall Birding at Coronado State Park

“Horned Larks,” Barb announced. “Look over there amongst the tufts of dry grass. You’ll have to look carefully as they really blend in.”

Horned Lark

Horned Lark

We all focused our binoculars until one of larks moved and we could see the yellow throat. They resembled the walking pattern of plovers – take a few steps, stop, look around, and then take a few more steps. When they stopped, they seemed to disappear, since the feathers on their back camouflaged them.

A small group of Thursday Birders was exploring Coronado State Park. There had been a frost during the night and benches and railings in the shade still glistened with a white sheen. However, once the sun was up, the air began to warm. The trees along the Rio Grande were turning and the seed heads of the four-wing saltbush appeared golden in the early morning light.

We headed out, but stopped to watch a Northern Flicker in the top of a juniper. American Robins were calling from the cottonwoods. A raptor was circling in the distance – from its flight pattern we knew it was an accipeter – flap, flap glide, flap, flap, glide.

Steve drew our attention to a cholla where three birds were perched – House Finches. And then a White-crowned Sparrow flew in to join them.

Just past the visitor’s center, we took the Tiwa Trail. There was movement in the bushes. Finally a Canyon Towhee popped out.

A flock of Canada Geese approached along the length of the river. “I have been watching them approach since they were just specks,” Donna told us. As they got nearer, we heard them honking.

We noticed flashes of blue as birds flew along the edge of the adjacent golf course. When one landed, we could see that they were Western Bluebirds.

“Look at the large raptor at the top of a juniper on the golf course,” someone said. Its breast gleamed in the morning sunlight. As we looked through the scope, we debated whether it was a Red-tailed Hawk or a Ferruginous Hawk.

We looked down at the trees along the river. “I hear Yellow-rumped Warbler, Song Sparrow and some type of wren,” Rebecca stated. “Let’s see if we can find them.” What we did find was a Ruby-crowned Kinglet flitting in a salt cedar.

As we headed back, a bird flew into a juniper and seemed to disappear. There was no movement, so I walked slowly towards the tree, hoping to catch a glance. Nothing. I began to think it had flown out the back of the tree unnoticed, and then it flushed and flew into a nearby tree where we could see it was a Yellow-rumped Warbler.

Back at the visitor’s center we gathered to go over the list for the morning. “Steve, want to guess how many species we saw?” Rebecca asked.

His guess of 20 species was right on!

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