Northern flicker (Colaptes auratus)

I heard the spotted Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus) calling loudly from an overhead branch of a mature tree, near the wooded area by the volleyball field.

On another lunch break, I walked over to the grassy area below the tennis and basketball courts near my home. There’s a net setup for volleyball but I have never seen anyone use it. The volleyball field tends to be damp and the grass is quite lush from the runoff from the tennis and basketball courts. The east, west and northern side of the field is surrounded by large trees and dense bushes. Through the trees is a small rocky stream that runs from a source that eventually connects to the Millstone River to the east and winds through the woods into Rocky Hill.

The Northern flicker is a type of woodpecker commonly found in various habitats, including woodlands, parks, and even suburban areas with mature trees. Northern flickers primarily feed on insects such as ants, beetles, caterpillars, and termites. They also consume fruits and seeds, especially during the colder months when insects are less abundant. After I learned of this I recently added a mealworm and berry suet to the bird feeder.

Northern flicker (Colaptes auratus) · 26 March 2024 · FujiFilm X-T3 · XF150-600mmF5.6-8 R LM OIS WR

I heard the spotted Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus) calling loudly from an overhead branch of a tall tree that was in early frondescence. I’ve heard the Northern flicker ball calls before, in the wooded area just beyond the fence line at the back of my home. This is my first time seeing one.

Carolina Wren (Thryothorus ludovicianus)

The wooded area near the volleyball field in my neighbourhood is a great location for bird photography. Patience is required.

While the northern flicker continued to sing loudly overhead, the Merlin app showed that there were two other birds nearby. Bird photography requires a lot of patience. Thryothorus ludovicianus is the scientific name for the Carolina Wren, a small bird species native to the southeastern United States. Carolina Wrens are quite vocal. They have a loud call for such a tiny bird. I heard the Carolina Wren calling from a branch.

A shallow slow-moving stream meanders through the vegetation. The stream has a substrate composed of various sizes of sedimentary rocks, which range from pebbles and gravel to larger sizes. The stream has small fish and insects that provide food for the birds.

Carolina Wrens are primarily insectivorous, meaning they mainly eat insects. Their diet includes beetles, caterpillars, spiders, ants, and other small invertebrates that they find in the leaf litter and among shrubs and trees. They forage for food and build their nests in the dense vegetation, including shrubs, bushes, and thickets.

Carolina wren (Thryothorus ludovicianus) · 26 March 2024 · FujiFilm X-T3 · XF150-600mmF5.6-8 R LM OIS WR

Black-capped chickadee (Poecile atricapillus)

On Monday, just after lunch, I grabbed the X-T3 and XF150-600mmF5.6-8 R LM OIS WR drove the car and parked on Princeton Avenue just before the border with Rocky Hill. Just off the path leading to Van Horne Park there's a "catchment area" that has morphed into a large pond and it that has become part of the watershed. The catchment area was built to collect rainwater flowing off the large parking lot owned by the Audi car dealership. I’m unsure if this is intentional but tall reeds, the ones that are commonly found in wetland environments such as marshes and swamps, are growing out of the "pond".

Catchment areas can create watersheds that play an important role in maintaining water quality and managing flood risks in communities. Reeds are important components of wetland ecosystems, providing habitat and food for various wildlife species and helping to stabilise soil and control erosion along water bodies. Where I sat on the cement wall bordering the pond, I could hear frogs croaking and splashing in the water below.

I photographed dragonflies in this location a few years ago. I knew it was too early for dragonflies but I thought perhaps I would see some birds. As I sat on the wall I could hear various species of birds singing in the still leafless trees that lined the path and ringed the "pond". The Merlin app identified, black-capped chickadees, northern flickers and northern cardinals. I could hear them but I was growing frustrated that I did not see them.

Black-capped chickadee (Poecile atricapillus) · 25 March 2024 · FujiFilm X-T3 · XF150-600mmF5.6-8 R LM OIS WR

After 30 fruitless minutes, I was ready to leave when I noticed movement in a small bush that had just started to show some early spring leaves. It took me a few minutes but the bird, which I later identified as a black-capped chickadee, finally landed in a spot where I could get a clean portrait.