New birds from Liberty Park

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Spent much of the day in Liberty Park birdwatching again.

I went past at dusk last weekend on my way to the handicraft evening, and there were some ducks there I couldn’t get close enough to see, but which a quick look in the bird book confirmed to be Canvasbacks Aythya valisineria. They were not in the duck pond in Liberty Park today, so I didn’t get to see them any better, but the profile of the head is unmistakable.

Today, there were enormous amounts of Mallards Anas platyrhynchos, as well as both California Gull Larus californica and Ring-billed Gull Larus delawarensis, both in several different plumages. Many American Coots Fulica americana, and no less than two different Branta geese. One was of course Canada Goose Branta canadensis, but I’m not so sure about the other. I’ll have to look at my photos again, but it might be what is known as Richardson’s Cackling Goose Branta hutchinsii, but I’m not sure. They are a tricky bunch.

A pair of Ring-necked Ducks Aythya collaris which later flew away and disappeared were new for my Utah and USA list, and amazingly there were a pair of Killdeer Charadrius vociferus on the island in the pond! Unexpected, though I have seen Spotted Sandpiper Actitis macularia there before.

Hundreds of Starlings Sturnus vulgaris in the trees, drowning out all other birds, but I did hear an American Goldfinch Carduelis tristis. Further away from the pond there were several Red-breasted Nuthatches Sitta canadensis, Black-capped Chickadees Poecile atricapilla, and the highlights of the day, a group of Townsend’s Warblers Dendroica townsendi, another new species for my life list. They formed a loose flock with some chickadees in a line of spruces, but were scared away by an American Crow Corvus brachyrhynchos and I lost them, until I came to the entrance of the park on my way out, where this (or another flock) of warblers and chickadees were climbing around in the trees. This flock was much larger, and included also some Red-breasted Nuthatches, at least two Brown Creepers Certhia americana (another new species for my US list, though I’ve seen them in Canada), an unidentified species of Goldcrest Regulus which I only heard, and two different species of flycatchers, Hammond’s Flycatcher Empidonax hammondii which I’ve seen before, and Cordilleran Flycatcher Empidonax occidentalis, which was a new species for me! There were some House Finches Carpodacus mexicanus in the area as well, but they didn’t mix with the other birds.

Other birds seen on the way home included Oregon Dark-eyed Junco Junco hyemalis oreganus and American Robin Turdus migratorius.

In summary, I’ve added Canvasback, Townsend’s Warbler, and Cordilleran Flycatcher to my life list, and Ring-necked Duck and Brown Creeper to my US list. I’ll have to check whether that goose is a Cackling or a Canada, though.

Still hoping for Pygmy Nuthatch Sitta pygmaea which is supposed to live in the park. This weekend, unless it snows, I’ll be going back to the NOW SNOW FREE canyons, and now I’m off to Thanksgiving Dinner with Emily.

Incidentally, the world list is now at 927 species (and 1053 subspecies), the US list on 124 species, and the Utah list on 113 species. My goal is passing 1000 species before leaving Utah, and now that i got two extra years, that certainly seems possible. Maybe even next year! There has been some talk of maybe, maybe going to visit Kevin in Illinois in the spring, to catch some birds, and as the Eastern bird fauna is almost as distinct from the Western as the European is from the Siberian, that would imply lots of new species.

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