Johnson Park

I spent a lot of time last summer and fall at Johnson Park in Borger.  I went there because it was close to work if I got paged in, and because of the Mississippi Kites.  The park is at the head of a creek that drains the center and eastern edge of Borger.  There’s a nice little open area, the youth center/swimming pool, and a nature trail.  Access the trail just north of the Youth Center.  The trail crosses back and forth over the creek as it enters a fairly steep sided canyon that is joined by a few other creeks and then empties into the Canadian River a few miles north of town.  It has a lot a trees and brush and even in the current drought there is usually a small stream of running water and a few small pools.  Unfortunately it is crossed by numerous oil and gas pipelines and makes a close pass by the city’s water reclamation plant and Conoco-Phillip’s tank farm before it gets to the river.  There are lots of places you can’t see any of that stuff, though, and it is very quiet and peaceful.  I rarely see anyone else there.

The kites hunted and roosted there last summer (every summer I guess, but I had never paid any attention to them before.)  They winter further south so they disappeared sometime in early fall.  I’ve been down the trail a few times this winter but didn’t really see anything except a couple of Frisbee golfers that use the course that follows the first part of the trail.

I was late getting off work this morning and only had an hour before I had to be somewhere else.  Rather than spending 20 minutes driving each way to the lake I decided to stop by the Johnson Park trail.  I glad I did.  I only got a few pictures but there were lots of small birds there.  I saw several White-crowned and Field Sparrows.  Even better, I heard several songs I could not identify and even though I waited for at least half an hour, sitting still near the trees from which the songs came, I was never able to catch more than a glimpse of the singers out of the corner of my eye.  Hope to get back in the next few days to try to photograph and identify them.

As I sat there I got a pretty good shot of a female Downy Woodpecker, a species that I had never seen before, though they are not all that rare around here.  That makes five different woodpeckers in the first 9 months I’ve been birding.

I heard back from eBird this afternoon about the birds that I had tentatively identified as Hammond’s Flycatchers.  Surprise, surprise, surprise… I was wrong.  They are Townsend’s Solitaires.  Still a new one for my lists, though, so not a disappointment at all.

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