[Mnbird] Crystal Spring SNA/Falls Creek SNA, Washington C

linda whyte birds at moosewoods.us
Fri Jun 12 18:30:39 CDT 2020

Today we hiked at two SNAs along the St. Croix River. We haven't been to
Falls Creek in many years, and had never been to Crystal Spring, which is
relatively new.

Falls Creek is rather changed from what we remember. The creek was always
somewhat ephemeral in its upper reaches, but dependable in the lower
sections. Today it was totally dry, and we wonder if its flow has been
stanched by the relatively recent sand and gravel operation
upstream, across the highway.
There were still Scarlet Tanager, Ovenbird, Pine Warbler, and Acadian
Flycatcher to be heard, but no sound from the Wood Thrush, nor the
Louisiana Waterthrush. Hopefully the scarcity of song was due to our lunch
hour start there. Certainly, we found the original trail system much
altered, whether an act of nature or simple disuse.

Fortunately, we had devoted our late-start morning to Crystal Spring, which
was every bit as rich as Falls Creek had been in the past. The two areas
are almost adjacent, and identical in habitat, but Crystal Spring flows
nicely from the rock formations. The entrance trail that gives access to
the head of the spring and its creek, was lively with "edge" birds, like
Indigo Bunting. Once in the woods, full of mixed deciduous and old-growth
pine, there were Yellow-throated Vireo, Ovenbirds, Scarlet Tanager,
Red-breasted Nuthatch, Swainson's Thrush, Veery, and more.

By the time we approached the spring itself, the Acadian Flycatcher's call
was unmistakable.  We never got a look at it, beyond shadows in flight,
though we followed the sound as it moved up and down the creek. Further
downstream, toward the railroad track we may have seen the Louisiana
Waterthrush, but never got a good view of the suspect, nor did we hear it
call. Instead, we identified a pair of Eastern Phoebes that may be nesting
on a rock ledge above a shallow pool.

As we started to head back, we had a surprise encounter with a female
Hummingbird. She seemed to be aiming for bits of red on our attire! It gave
us pause long enough for another surprise--- a very vocal Cerulean Warbler
was calling vigorously from directly overhead. This was near an 8-foot tall
stump, riddled with holes, just a few yards off the trail. The canopy was
high there, with some open understory, a landscape Ceruleans seem to favor.

This SNA is a gem, and leaves me wanting to see it again, especially in
future migrations.
Linda Whyte
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