Date: 11/2/20 8:55 pm
From: Ron Burkert <raburkert...>
Subject: Allegheny County Birding
I had an interesting late morning-early afternoon birding in Allegheny County - mostly along two of Pittsburgh's Three Rivers. Headed towards Pittsburgh's North Shore to see if any of the rarities reported over the weekend were still around, I stopped at Harmar to find one of the resident bald eagle adults perched within a hundred yards of the nest they've been using for several years.

Approaching Pittsburgh, I decided to check out the location where a group of 10 American avocets was reported in September 2019 and which were my Lifer birds. It turned into a fortuitous stop as a tundra swan appeared with eight Canada geese not far off the shore, for my first of county in 2020.

Moving on, I drove and parked closer to downtown and then walked 1.7 miles on the North Shore Trail finding a long-tailed duck actively diving just downriver from the Rivers of Steel dock. Continuing to the Head of the Ohio hotspot where surf scoters were reported over the weekend I spotted and photographed a juvenile double-crested cormorant perched on a steel piling in the Allegheny River.

Proceeding on I heard a chickadee and when it popped into view after I "phished", it looked like a black-capped chickadee in great light and since we are in a hybrid zone for BCCH and Carolina chickadees started to raise my camera to take photos and heard a different bird's call. Switching subjects, I found a red-breasted nuthatch feeding in one of three pine trees planted along this section of the Riverwalk, just south of the Fred Rogers Memorial. I've seen them often in a Washington County SGL's pine stands, in late November and early December, but never expected to get my eBird Lifer in the middle of Pittsburgh! Thank you to all responsible for planting trees and shrubs along the rivers; natural migration corridors. Now it would be wonderful if someone would come up with a cheap and effective means of eradicating Japanese knotweed along our waterways to allow our native vegetation to support our native birds and other animals.

Turning my attention back to the river and moving further up the Allegheny, I spotted several dark waterfowl well ahead of me but not far off the Riverwalk. Closing the distance I found the eight surf scoters previously reported. They would be there, then in a couple seconds all eight would dive together and resurface a bit downriver sometime later.

Turning and heading back towards the car, I soon spotted a mature bald eagle flying overhead and it cruised right over Heinz Field. In less than two minutes there were two mature baldies soaring right in front of me. While photographing the eagles, I noticed six gulls flying really high above the eagles BUT my camera's battery died right then and my spare was in the car as were my binocs! Dumb!!

Arriving at the car without seeing the long-tailed duck on the way back, I replaced the camera battery and decided to see if the swan was still present. I didn't find it but the glare on the river was so bright I could have possibly missed it but there were still a lot of geese, a mallard and a great blue heron along Brunot Island's shore.

On the way home, I crossed the Highland Park bridge and headed up Allegheny River Blvd. Not long after getting through the first light, I spotted a wild turkey just off the roadside.

Arriving home after picking up some groceries, I was pleased to see "my" single pine siskin with house finches and other species on my feeders.

Hope you've enjoyed reading about my day of rarities!

Good luck with your birding!
Ron Burkert
Oakmont, Allegheny Co.
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