By Klavdiya Vasylenko, TTF Intern

I joined Judith Gratz, TTF Environmental Educator, as well as local members of the community, on TTF’s Nature’s Hidden Surprises monthly walk through Tacony Creek Park. For someone who lives in the city, being able to go out and explore the park, even for a few hours, really helps me unwind and relax. Since this was my first time going to this event, I really didn’t know what to expect. When I arrived, I felt welcomed and engaged as we began at the start of the trail, learning how to use our binoculars and getting a brief background of the park. 

Attendees look for birds in Tacony Creek Park.

Judith’s captivating personality held everyone’s attention as she explained what we were going to be learning about before we proceeded to walk up the trail. She even shared a haiku poem in theme with the day’s walk:

“I could not see him

That fluttering fly-off bird…

But the plum-petals…”

— Shiki

Judith Gratz points to a bird in a bird guide for a group of attendees.

Judith would point at a branch or sky and tell us to listen for a melody, before explaining which bird or creature we were looking at. My personal favorite was the yellow warbler that sings a cheerful tune: “sweet, sweet, I’m so sweet.” As we continued to walk up the trail, we saw so many different birds, plants, and creatures, pausing every few feet to focus our attention on the different things happening around us. We even got to watch a couple of Baltimore orioles building a nest out of caterpillar silk for a few minutes — talk about renewable resources!

Our tour ended at the white sycamore tree, where Judith and some of the kids walked out to the creek banks to check out the Canada geese floating in the water. It’s very humbling to think that all these different things are happening around us; all we need to do is pay attention.

A woman holding a little boy points at a bird up in a tree.

As we wrapped up the walk, the whole group had a very positive energy, sharing favorite memories with each other and exchanging laughs. The way that Judith was able to engage the crowd, and her passion for nature, was contagious. I’m looking forward to joining the group next time.

Here’s a list of the 36 bird species we saw and heard in the park:

Canada goose, mallard, rock pigeon, mourning dove, red-bellied woodpecker, flicker, downy woodpecker, tree swallow, N. rough-winged swallow, barn swallow, blue jay, American crow, tufted titmouse, Carolina chickadee, white-breasted nuthatch, house wren, Carolina wren, blue-gray gnatcatcher, wood thrush, American robin, gray catbird, N. mockingbird, European starling, N. parula, warbler, black-throated green warbler, yellow warbler, N. cardinal, song sparrow, white-throated sparrow, red-winged blackbird, brown-headed cowbird, common grackle, Baltimore oriole, house sparrow, American goldfinch.

See our schedule of monthly Nature’s Hidden Surprises walks in Tacony Creek Park here, or see a complete list of our upcoming events here!

About Doryán De Angel

Doryán De Angel, Community Watershed Leader (Philadelphia): Doryán works with Robin on the Philadelphia watershed team to engage and educate residents about watershed and stormwater issues. A resident of Cheltenham, Doryan started with TTF as an outstanding hands-on volunteer. She is fluent in Spanish and has a Bachelors in Environmental Science from the University of Puerto Rico. She was a student collaborator on the San Juan Bay Estuary Project. Contact Doryán at 215.744.1853 or


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