|Rusty Blackbird at Gorgas Run. Watercolor Sketch by Ken Januski.|
With all the cold and snow it's harder than usual to convince ourselves to go out counting birds for the Great Backyard Bird Count, especially as we don't want to give up our parking space and know that when we return we'll need to search for longer than we'd like and park much further away than we'd like. Winter in the city!
So yesterday we decided to walk to our birding, just as we'd done on Friday. This is more appealing on a sunny day like Friday. But yesterday was supposed to become mostly cloudy, and not reach 32. Did we really want to take a long walk in that weather? Well we're happy that we did.
As I've written many times about winter birding, you just never know what you may find. When we finally got down to the Wissahickon our first surprise was a female Common Merganser. We've never seen any mergansers there but if we did we'd expect it to be a Hooded Merganser. In fact I guess it's not true that we've never seen mergansers there. We have seen Hooded Mergansers on tributaries of the Wissahickon a mile or two north at Morris Arboretum.
As we ended our Wissahickon walk heading back up the Gorgas Run trail to the city Jerene said she saw a grackle. But it looked a bit slim for a grackle. In fact it was a beautiful male Rusty Blackbird. I find them irresistible as a subject for art. Above is a quick watercolor sketch of one in the water of Gorgas Run from yesterday. We rounded out that part of the walk with a sighting I hoped we'd find: the same Eastern Phoebe we had found in the same location a month ago for the Philadelphia Mid-winter Bird Census. It's amazing that it was still around.
We rounded off our walk with a mile or so back down Ridge Avenue to our house. Not much to see in the urban part of the walk, but you just never know. Maybe next time.