I visited Garret Mountain today starting around 4:45. Starting at the "Elvis" lot near the now-dredged pond and walking counterclockwise through the park, I observed 41 species on my loop. It was truly wonderful: the spring snow was still on the ground, but some of the trails I walked on had yet to be visited by human or deer. There were LOTS of birds around, especially Golden-crowned Kinglets, who seemed to be in nearly every grove of trees. And woodpeckers-5 species-lots of them, too, including a female Pileated excavating a nest in a dead tree near the southern end of the park.
The best bird of the afternoon was a Louisiana Waterthrush, found not in the usual place along the western stream that runs downhill below the houses on Rifle Camp Road, but rather at the top of the climb from the pavilion to the road along the back trail. There, the watercourse is not much more than a trickle, but the Waterthrush was foraging just the same, and jumped up from its endeavors to eye me suspiciously before flying off a short way to "chip" and wag its tail. Such a beautiful bird, with its pale yellow breast and bright pink legs and feet!
Another sighting was particularly nice: a Brown Creeper, which I know is a common species, but it's not one that I see every outing, as is the case for the Paridae or Nuthatches. This individual worked its way along branches and limbs for many minutes, providing a nice opportunity for observation. That its kind find enough food in the cracks and crevices of trees over a whole winter still amazes me.
I'm not much of an afternoon birder except during events like the World Series, or when I'm on a birding vacation. I've often wondered how birders (I think of Mike Britt at his favorite haunts in Bayonne in the afternoons) have observed so many birds as the sun is going down. Today was one of those days when, perhaps because they had been stymied from foraging during the morning snowfall, all the birds were out, active, and singing (three Fox Sparrows!). It was particularly lovely, so much winged life amidst snow and the stirrings of greenery beneath.