The park, in this instance, is Albertson Park in Boise. The walk was a morning photo trip last week, to see what might be around. Photographs, with notes, follow.
There are two Great Blue Herons that seem to winter over along the Boise Greenbelt. WC sees them pretty often and, while the photo isn’t ideal, this is the first time the photo shows the bird with a fish. And it went down the bird’s throat quicker than the time it takes to tell.
WC thinks Gadwalls are under-rated. They are a beautiful, delicately patterned duck, especially the drakes. WC’s sample size is admittedly small, but they don’t seem to be that common in Boise. There’s a small flock hanging out at Albertson and Ann Morrison Parks right now.
A few White-crowned Sparrows winter in the Greenbelt, the series of parks along the Boise River. Most spend the snowy months further south, but you can usually find a few adults and hatch year birds. They were ubiquitous in alpine Alaska; it was impossible to get out of your car along the Denali Highway and not hear a White-crowned singing.
Another uncommon duck in winter in Boise. Hoodies are the smallest of the three species of mergansers that breed in North America, and they are the only one that is endemic to – found only in – North America. The spectacular “hood” – really a raised crest – on both males and females make the species pretty unique. It’s always a treat to see them.
Song Sparrows routinely winter over in the Treasure Valley, and most walks along wetlands will produce a view or two. This is a different subspecies than is found in southcentral and southeastern Alaska. Song Sparrows are diverse and very widely spread, sound across most of North America, the most widely spread sparrow, in fact.
For whatever reason, Wood Ducks not only are common year round in Albertson Park but this famously spooky species is readily approachable. And equally famously difficult to photograph. Getting the white and blacks properly exposed is nearly impossible and, plainly, WC failed this time, too. But it’s pretty good to have the drake and the hen in the frame.
Usually, the Wigeons hang out over at the adjoining Ann Morrison Park, but this time the small flock of resident birds was at Albertson Park. Wigeons are the fashion models of waterfowl; WC would swear the pose, swimming out into especially colorful reflections and then shifting positions to give a bird photographer a wide range of angles.
For a metropolitan park in late autumn, that’s not a bad showing. WC saw a total of 21 species. You can’t do that in Fairbanks in mid-November. Or ha liquid water. Or the light for the photos. Just sayin’.