breeding birds at Huckleberry Preserve


debbie viess
 

Perhaps foolishly, since solitude is usually my goal, I took a walk along the Huckleberry loop on the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend. Plenty of folks were out enjoying the beautiful weather and the beautiful park, and in the late afternoon, there was also plenty of bird activity.

The usual state of heightened concern displayed by parent birds was shunted into overdrive...what with the string of bad weather days and difficult foraging coupled with at long last a nice day but one filled with human hordes in their woodland homes! Am I the only one who feels guilty sometimes when inadvertantly disturbing the birds? I did an awful lot of apologizing and tiptoeing away yesterday...

Discovered a Downy woodpecker nesthole right along the trail, when the parent bird flew over and the nestlings set up a racket. Mom started to feed them, then noticed me, and flew off, calling. Those hungry kids kept up their chorus, however, and I couldn't help but think that every predator in the 'hood could hear them, too.

I stood by again when a junco flew up from its ground nest. Didn't stick around for the inevitable scolding. Family flocks of Chestnut backed chickadees flew here and there, parents relentlessly pursued by clamoring packs of fledglings.

Several clots of new birders were also on the trail, peering up hopefully into the trees, Sibleys clutched in hand, where several birds were calling unseen. Sure helps to know your birdsong when those birds are visually uncooperative, like almost always. Ear birding is not one of my stronger suits either, alas.

Speaking of unexpected visuals at Huckleberry Preserve, the other day I had my best views ever of a Warbling Vireo...perched in full view, and highlighted against the bright green moss of a live oak. A rare and leisurely sighting for a bird that is more commonly heard than seen, at least by me!

Ravens have forsaken their gangs and are reduced to their small springtime family groups, and the Golden Eagles again rule the roost over Round Top way. Maybe some eagle offspring are over there, too, but I am content to view these majestic local denizens from afar.

Sometimes, my magical patch of life at Huckleberry seems awfully small and shrinking.

Walk lightly, my friends, our human impacts are everywhere.

Debbie Viess
Oakland