2021 Merced County Species-to-Date (as of last checklist)
Life List = 179
Year List = 99
Nestled next to the Merced River, surrounded by riparian trees and home to a myriad of ornamental evergreen and deciduous trees in an open setting, Henderson Park was our target for the morning.
COLLEGE CREDIT FOR BIRD WATCHING – WHAT?
Almost 36 years ago I first visited the Snelling area, (Henderson Park specifically), on a college field trip. I, along with 20 other college students, were getting credit for the requisite “Winter Term Course” for graduation and I was ecstatic that Winter Birding was an option. As a matter of random circumstance, I had to take Ornithology the previous spring as it was the only upper division science course I could fit into my fulltime working, two kid family, busy life. As a result of taking Zoology 4630 – Ornithology, I had become hooked on birding and it seemed surreal to get credit for going birding. The one thing I remember about that particular trip was seeing three species of goldfinch. I only recorded an X for the 32 species seen, so my eBird list doesn’t have numbers.
ABOUT HENDERSON PARK
Designed by county surveyor and architect William “Bill” E. Bedesen, Henderson Park is similar to Lake Yosemite which Bedesen also designed for the WPA. Henderson Park has a sister WPA-constructed park near Hillmar, called Hagaman Park. Both have cobble stone-faced entrances. WPA work at Henderson Park includes a clubhouse, comfort station and utility shed, as well as curved stone walls. All are built of concrete blocks with a cobblestone veneer of stones that were dredged from the Merced River. https://livingnewdeal.org/projects/henderson-park-snelling-ca-snelling-ca/
Recent eBird reports by Dale Swanberg, Richard Brown, Sam Fellows and Gary Woods helped me set a target list, both for new species for my year list and for photos, always more photos! High on my lists were: Red-breasted Sapsucker, Chipping Sparrows, White-throated Sparrow, Golden-crowned Kinglets, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Brown Creeper, Pine Siskin and the unusual Slate-colored Junco, a sub-species of Dark-eyed Junco.
Stalking my Prey – As can be seen in my eBird Mobile Tracks map above, I wandered around and around, going wherever I saw or heard birds.
THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY – ALMOST
After 2 1/2 hours of searching unsuccessfully for my last target bird, White-throated Sparrow, I headed home. I was determined to go back better prepared and with an expert! Two days later, Richard Brown accompanied me back to the park and he showed me the exact brush pile that he had photographed the sparrow on 4 days before.
After a short distraction by a Phainopepla…
we crept carefully to the perfect position with the sun to our backs, moving ever so slowly and BAM! It popped up.
So after 2 visits to the park, my year-to-date totals for Merced County (now over 100), are sitting at 122.
Where to next???
2021 Merced County Species-to-Date (as of current checklist)
Life List = 183
Year List = 122