Sunday, September 16, 2007

Terns and a Plover

This morning I drove instead of walked to the T&C playing fields, so I could be there as the sun rose. And because I wanted to walk further downstream than I usually do. I got this neat picture of a Red-shouldered Hawk while the sun was still low and the light was soft and pink. There's a lot of bird activity on and around these fields first thing in the morning. I found a neat mixed flock of migrating songbirds at the edge of the north parking lot, next to a dumpster. (Ah, the exotic locations we birders find!) It included 2 Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, a Black-throated Green Warbler, a Yellow Warbler, and a Mourning Warbler. Nearby I found a Wilson's Warbler and then about 10 Baltimore Orioles flew over me.

What happened next was a big surprise. I heard an unfamiliar croak, looked around, and saw 2 Caspian Terns flying over! They were heading south, probably following the creek. This is a very rare fall migrant for the Austin area, and it made #168 on my neighborhood list. Seeing them made me feel like I was on the coast. Later I was downstream of the playing fields in the undeveloped area by the creek. I was looking for shorebirds on a wide, flat area of the creek bed. There I found another new bird for my list -- Semipalmated Plover -- taking it up to 169 species! I got this picture of the plover standing between 2 Least Sandpipers. It looks like a mini-Killdeer with only one breast band instead of the Killdeer's 2.

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