Sunday, September 23, 2007

Butterflies, Hawks, and Firsts

Saturday morning I birded the flood plain property and found this exotic-looking butterfly. The long streamers on the end of the wings really caught my eye. It's a White-striped Longtail (Chioides albofasciatus) and it's in the Skipper family. I was surprised to read that its range extends all the way south to Argentina, but Austin is about its northern limit. Its habitat is described as edges of tropical and subtropical forest. The most interesting bird of the morning was a House Wren squawking near the future hike-and-bike trail parking lot. House Wrens are winter residents in the neighborhood and this was the first time I've seen one since last winter.

Today I birded the T&C playing fields and the future hike-and-bike trail area east of the fields. On Lake Creek at the eastern edge of the fields I got this picture of two common neighborhood birds: a Blue Jay and a Red-shouldered Hawk. Blue Jays often perch close to hawks or owls and scold them. A little further downstream I ran into a small mixed species foraging flock that included some neat migrants: Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Blue-headed Vireo, White-eyed Vireo, Black-and-white Warbler, Wilson's Warbler, Nashville Warbler, and Least Flycatcher. Like the House Wren yesterday, the Kinglet and the Blue-headed Vireo were first-of-season sightings for me. I got this mediocre picture of the Black-and-white Warbler. They sure are fun to watch. Their black and white pattern is striking. And they cling to the trunks and thick branches of trees almost like a woodpecker.

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