Ridley Creek: Cutting the Loop

7.2.2006, 600-730 am
Ridley Creek State Park, Bridle Trail

The Bridle Trail of Ridley Creek promised many possible new lifers, so a visit seemed necessary. Unfortunately, my planned visits had been rained out for the past few weekends, so everything was delayed until today. I got out as early as possible so I could get back in time for Stage 1 of the Tour de France (which I’m currently happily watching), so I ended up heading out just as the sun rose. The amount of birdsong right at sunrise was really surprising, probably because I haven’t been out in a while.

The Bridle Trail forms a very long loop, which very few people actually complete due to its length, and also because the best birding areas are just in the first few hundred yards of each path. Each direction of the loop features very different habitats, with the east loop featuring hardwood riparian forest, and the west loop has more of a meadow habitat. I started with the east loop as recommended by Pulcinella, but the habitat was quite similar to what could be found at Sycamore Mills Rd or even in the Crum, and I found many of the same species as well, so I headed back and spent most of my time on the west fork, where I found a life bird and some species not found in the Crum.

Blue-winged Warbler, male. Heard a single male singing, but only got brief views of it, and also of a female and their young fledling. Photo by Chris Young

Blue-winged Warbler was a lifer for me, while Chestnut-sided Warbler and Louisiana Waterthrush were also great birds. I struck out on birds like Prairie Warbler, Field Sparrow, and Ring-necked Pheasant, but I was still fairly pleased with the results of the day. Perhaps those birds are found further up the loop.

I also made a brief foray into the southern portion of the trail on the other side of Gradyville Rd., which is the route recommended in the ABA Birdfinding guide, but it seemed quieter than the loop. I will likely investigate it at some point, probably to seek out Hooded and Kentucky Warblers.

  • 3 Blue-winged Warbler – male, female, and young bird together on the west fork, male sang occasionally. Life bird!
  • 3 Chestnut-sided Warbler – West fork
  • 1 Louisiana Waterthrush – flew up near head of the trail, no singing heard, probably because nesting has been concluded
  • 1 American Redstart – single male foraging past bridge
  • 1 Northern Parula – single bird singing at the bridge
  • 7 Veery – very common, quite a few were singing their amazing song as well
  • 7 Cedar Waxwing – fluttering all over the bridge, I’m not sure what they were doing. They rarely landed on neighboring trees, and instead hovered over the bridge and occasionally landed on the railings.
  • 6 Common Yellowthroat – quite a few singing, good views at a male and female as well
  • 3 Scarlet Tanager – great views of two males, one with a female
  • 3 Acadian Flycatcher – calling all along creek
  • 3 Eastern Towhee – great views of a couple, it’s been a long time since I’ve actually seen a Towhee

And back in the Crum, I’ve heard a Veery singing in the Wister forest the past few days, which is great.

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