Sunday, November 4, 2018

Birding on Broadmeade Walk

About a dozen people joined me for the monthly group walk this morning. We started at the east end of Lake Creek Trail by the Parmer Village pond. It was cold and windy initially but the sun came out and it became a beautiful morning. Here are some highlights from the walk. The pond was pretty quiet, with a few Double-crested Cormorants and a Loggerhead Shrike being the most interesting birds. We made our way to the creek bed and began walking upstream. A heard-only House Wren chattered at us when we first went off trail. And there were a few sparrows around but most couldn't be seen.

We briefly saw an Osprey flying low over the creek up by the last dam. And a little later we saw it again. It was headed our way and flew right over us!

Osprey in Flight - 1

Here it is again, head-on!

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Birding on Broadmeade Walk

About 8 people joined me last Sunday (October 7) for the monthly Birding on Broadmeade group walk. We started at 8:00 AM at the Braes Valley parking lot of Lake Creek Trail. What started slow turned out to be a great morning of finding fall migrant birds and returning winter residents! Here are some highlights.

About .1 miles from the footbridge Helen Mastrangelo spotted a pair of American Redstarts (one male and one female) in the dense brush between the trail and the creek. These birds were hard to see deep in the foliage, and while we waited for them to sometimes offer brief clear views, more birds showed up. Two Great Crested Flycatchers, a female Baltimore Oriole, a Wilson's Warbler, and an Indigo Bunting were all added to our list standing in this one spot watching the redstarts!

From the footbridge we found a Nashville Warbler. Across the footbridge we found a Yellow Warbler, a few Eastern Bluebirds, and estimated 30 Chimney Swifts that hadn't disappeared to the south yet. At the second creek crossing this lone male Rambur's Forktail damselfly was perched on a plant in the water. This might be the best photo I've gotten of this species!

Rambur's Forktail

On our way back Virginia Rose spotted a Ruby-crowned Kinglet, a winter resident species that is one of my personal favorite symbols of the season. I'm jealous that she got to see it but I missed it!

By this time the hackberry trees were full of brown butterflies chasing each other around. I assume they were mostly the same species that use hackberry trees as their host plant. I photographed this one which was identified as a Tawny Emperor when I posted it on iNaturalist:

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Birding on Broadmeade Walk

Eight people joined me this morning for the monthly group walk on Lake Creek Trail. We started at 7:30 at the Parmer Village end and spent two and a half hours covering about one mile of the trail. Before we left the pond we watched this White-tailed Deer fawn following its mother along the east edge:

White-tailed Deer Fawn

The first half of the walk turned out to be an exciting morning of fall migration birding! In the creek bed just east of the trail we got brief looks at a few Orchard Orioles and Yellow Warblers. We also saw a Cooper's Hawk fly by, low in hunting mode, and we got to experience how most of the birds quieted down in response. Approaching the last dam on the creek we spotted three male Blue Grosbeaks feeding on seeds in the johnson grass. A little later on the other side of the creek we got great looks at them and I got this photo of one:

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Birding on Broadmeade Walk

Only five people joined me for the monthly group walk on Sunday morning. We enjoyed a humid but breezy morning, finding 35 species of birds in about three hours. Here are a few highlights. Many of the birds we saw looked messy and unkempt because they are currently molting. Here's a Northern Cardinal missing some of its crest feathers. (That didn't stop him from singing!)

Northern Cardinal

At the footbridge we saw this juvenile European Starling that was a little more challenged than normal. Somehow it had broken off the tip of its bill!

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Late July Observations

Enough interesting things have happened during the second half of July so far that I thought I’d share them.

Wood Storks!

On the evening of July 16th I was out on the east half of the trail looking for the juvenile Roseate Spoonbill that had been spotted a couple weeks ago. (I think the spoonbill is still around. It was last observed near the Parmer Village pond on July 24.) I didn't find the spoonbill, but I was surprised and excited when two large white birds flew over me headed downstream. I could see by their dark flight feathers and dark heads that they were Wood Storks! When I least expected it, I had just seen a new species for my Lake Creek Trail list, number 230! They flew over Parmer Lane, circled and gained some altitude, and then they seemed to descend. Maybe they were landing on Ganzert Lake? (This lake is on private property and I only know it from Google Maps.) Here they are circling in the distance:

Wood Storks - 2

Purple Martin Roost

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Roseate Spoonbill

On Tuesday morning July 10 Sue and Stephen Whitmer, longtime neighborhood residents and birders, found a Roseate Spoonbill on Lake Creek. Spoonbills are large pink coastal wading birds. When people see them down on the Texas coast, they often call them flamingos because of their color. During the summer, some juveniles wander inland, and one or two can usually be found at Granger Lake or other large bodies of water. But they don't usually find our little neighborhood creek! Sue and Stephen saw one here in 1996, and I saw one in about 2002 (both observations pre-date eBird). So this was only the third time we know of that anyone has seen a Roseate Spoonbill on Lake Creek.

I put the word out to the local birding community. It was upstream from the trail, actually visible from the Broadmeade Avenue bridge across the creek. Sue said it was hanging around with Snowy Egrets and Great Egrets. Craig Browning and Barry Noret were able to find the bird around lunch time. Steven McDonald looked for it at 3 PM but couldn't find it. Shortly before 6 PM Helen Mastrangelo saw the spoonbill in the distance downstream from the Broadmeade bridge. Jordy Keith and I arrived a little later and the three of us searched downstream for the bird for about two hours but we couldn't find it. (We did find a juvenile Tricolored Heron, a similarly coastal species that wanders inland during its first year. It's more common here than the spoonbill.)

On Wednesday morning neighborhood resident Michael Falgoust photographed the spoonbill by the last dam on the creek (where Saddlebrook Trail ends). I finally found the bird in the same area Thursday evening. I arrived at the last dam at about 6:30 PM to see three people fishing, one of them launching a kayak on that small pond! So I knew if the bird was still there it would soon be scared away. As I looked upstream, I saw a large pinkish bird flying towards me. It flew low almost right over me, and continued downstream where I saw it land in the tall vegetation in the creek bed almost all the way down to the Parmer Lane bridge. I decided to follow it.

Walking on the trail downstream, I started to see several Great Egrets and Snowy Egrets in the creek bed, closer than I thought the spoonbill had landed. So I went off trail through the tall grass to get closer to the creek bed and see if the spoonbill was still associating with the egrets. As I slowly approached I spotted a pale pinkish bird loafing in the shade. I found it! As I slowly moved to get an unobstructed view and then waited, it lifted its bill from under its wings and I got this photo:

Roseate Spoonbill - 2

Nearby was another juvenile Tricolored Heron:

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Birding on Broadmeade Walk

On Sunday July 1, six people met me at 7:30 AM on the east end of Lake Creek Trail for the monthly bird walk. It was a breezy morning. That and partial cloud cover for the first half of the walk kept us from feeling too warm. Insects were already becoming active, and as I waited at the meeting spot this Western Kingbird hunted them over the pond, sometimes hovering over the aquatic plants:

Western Kingbird over Pond

We made our way upstream in the creek bed and as we approached the last dam on the creek, we started hearing a Painted Bunting singing. We got a brief look at it at the same location where Steven McDonald and I observed a female bringing food to a nest a few weeks ago. Last weekend I saw a whole Painted Bunting family there, both parents and four fledglings. This morning we only saw the singing male. We ended up getting two more good looks at it, and I got this mediocre photo: