Reliable stand-by boreal birds at Bebo Grove

Posted by Dan Arndt

Our trip last week took us to Bebo Grove in search of some recently found twitches that I was all too excited to search for. American Three-toed Woodpeckers, Black-backed Woodpeckers, and even a Barred Owl were regular sightings, but sadly not by our group on Sunday morning! We did have a good, long walk through both Bebo Grove and Shannon Terrace, and had a few special sightings of our own, but the great finds were the most reliable ones. Black-capped and Boreal Chickadees, White-breasted Nuthatches, a few Red Squirrels, Blue Jays(!) and a good number of Pine Grosbeaks, counter to my interpretation of the Winter Finch Forecast which I posted about a few weeks ago.

Bebo Grove and Shannon Terrace - October 26, 2014

Bebo Grove and Shannon Terrace – October 26, 2014

An initial pass through the picnic area just down the stairs from the parking lot at Bebo Grove turned up none of the three target birds for the week, despite our constant scanning of every trunk and every branch that could potentially harbor them. After nearly half an hour in that area, we headed west towards Shannon Terrace, where things really started to pick up. The chatter of an angry Golden-crowned Kinglet alerted us to a mixed flock of chickadees and nuthatches, so we sat and watched them for a while, many of the photographers in our group (myself included) snapping away dozens of shots to make up for our dip earlier in the morning.

female White-breasted Nuthatch Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm 1/800sec., ƒ/6.3, ISO 3200

female White-breasted Nuthatch
Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm
1/800sec., ƒ/6.3, ISO 3200

Black-capped Chickadee Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm 1/800sec., ƒ/6.3, ISO 3200

Black-capped Chickadee
Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm
1/800sec., ƒ/6.3, ISO 3200

We moved on shortly after, and passed into a deeper, quieter section of the park between Bebo Grove and Shannon Terrace, and were pleased to find a few Boreal Chickadees and even spotted some Pine Grosbeaks quite high up in the trees, giving their easily identified calls.

Boreal Chickadee Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm 1/500sec., ƒ/8.0, ISO 3200

Boreal Chickadee
Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm
1/500sec., ƒ/8.0, ISO 3200

Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm 1/500sec., ƒ/8.0, ISO 3200

Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm
1/500sec., ƒ/8.0, ISO 3200

Over at the west end of the park, just outside the Learning Center at Shannon Terrace, this adorable little Red Squirrel decided to ham it up for our group, sitting pretty while chewing away on one of the many spruce cones available from the trees in the area.

Red Squirrel Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm 1/500sec., ƒ/6.3, ISO 3200

Red Squirrel
Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm
1/500sec., ƒ/6.3, ISO 3200

It seems like Blue Jays are just about everywhere this fall. We’ve seen and heard many in just about every park we’ve been this year, and yet another one posed nicely for me while calling rather insistently at something out of our line of sight. Either that, or it just liked the sound of its own voice.

Blue Jay Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm 1/500sec., ƒ/6.3, ISO 3200

Blue Jay
Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm
1/500sec., ƒ/6.3, ISO 3200

Around the corner from here we heard a flock of Pine Grosbeaks fly in, and flew down to the creek to take a drink. While I wasn’t quite close enough to snap the action, I did get a shot of this young male transitioning from juvenile (yellow) to adult (red) plumage, hence the ochre coloring.

Pine Grosbeak Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm 1/500sec., ƒ/6.3, ISO 200

Pine Grosbeak
Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm
1/500sec., ƒ/6.3, ISO 200

So we headed back to the east end of the park and another pass through the picnic area in search of our targets. Sadly, we dipped on them again, but we did find a very photogenic male White-breasted Nuthatch in the middle of a meal!

male White-breasted Nuthatch Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm 1/800sec., ƒ/6.3, ISO 3200

male White-breasted Nuthatch
Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm
1/800sec., ƒ/6.3, ISO 3200

male White-breasted Nuthatch Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm 1/800sec., ƒ/6.3, ISO 3200

male White-breasted Nuthatch
Pentax K-5 + Sigma 150-500@500mm
1/800sec., ƒ/6.3, ISO 3200

Thanks as always for reading, and good birding!