Soon after passing under Elm Lane, I heard the loud, clear song of a Louisiana waterthrush. They nest along the greenway, preferring the small streams that feed into the main creek.
A larger bird flushed from a thicket right by the boardwalk; a green heron, the first I had seen this year. Green herons are crow-sized waders, quite a bit smaller than the great blue herons that frequent the greenway year-round. Pairs nest individually in the thickets of low shrubs in the creek bottomland, unlike the colonial great blues. They are an attractive species but can be hard to see. They tend to sit still and crouch low while waiting for a tasty frog, minnow, or crayfish to give itself away.
I went as far as the Johnston Road overpass. An Eastern phoebe has a nest under the bridge, but last year’s barn swallow nest site hasn’t been claimed thus far.
On the walk back an osprey flew out from a tree on the edge of the cattail marsh. Osprey are most often seen as flyovers along the greenway. Undoubtedly that individual was just taking a brief rest. There isn’t enough open water to entice a pair to nest along Four mile Creek but the larger lakes in the area do grab their interest as they pass by.
As I neared the parking area where I started, a loud drumming echoed through the woods. I knew what it was, and I glimpsed the pileated woodpecker briefly as it took off with a yodeling laugh. It has been a couple of years since the resident pair chose to hang out close by. Hopefully they will continue to do so through the season.