Sunday, July 20, 2008

Gathering Martins, Summer Residents

I birded the neighborhood for about 3 and a half hours this morning and except for it getting a little hot after 10:00 AM, it was pretty fun. Today was the first time I've seen significant numbers of Purple Martins. They're gathering into large groups and starting to head south. Last Sunday I counted 2 Purple Martins and this morning I counted 73. I saw most of them on top of the soccer field light posts at the T&C playing fields. I took this picture of 4 of them near the Meadowheath parking lot.

I had good luck finding some of the less common summer residents in the neighborhood today. I was happy to see an Eastern Phoebe, a White-eyed Vireo, and a male Painted Bunting. These are not rare birds, but during the summer they're hard to find in the NASWC area. The bird of the morning was a Cooper's Hawk, which is rare in the Austin area during the summer. This was my first July sighting of one in the neighborhood. I found all these birds along the creek, between the T&C soccer fields and the last dam.

For the first time since the construction started, I wandered around the new Parmer Village residential development near where Lake Creek goes under Parmer Lane. They have a drainage pond that had some neat shorebirds in it one morning back in May. And I might try to use this area as a meeting place for my bird walks. Today I discovered that all the new streets are open, and they all have bird names! But something's not quite right. Many of the birds don't occur in the neighborhood -- "Sage Grouse Dr.", "Oystercatcher Dr.", "White Ibis"... And then I saw "Blackvireo Dr." There's no such bird! I assume someone was thinking of the Black-capped Vireo, but maybe that name was too long? I'd love to know the story behind that.

I don't know anything about how new streets are planned or named, but I hope these street names mean that someone involved with the project had some notion of the rich bird life here. And one last note: I have seen a Black-capped Vireo in the neighborhood, only once, very near this new development.


Unknown said...

Enjoy your posts. I'm learning about all the birds I see in my neighborhood in central Austin. I had a very active bird weekend in the backyard!
As to new street names it's generally the developer that chooses the names, often with no rhyme or reason. They are then approved or not by whatever transportation entity has jurisdiction. In that area it's either the city of Austin or Williamson Co. There are rules of course.

Mikael Behrens said...

Thanks for the comment! I'm glad the blog is helping you to figure out some local birds. So, I wonder if "Black-capped Vireo Dr." became "Blackvireo Dr." during the approval process? I sure am curious.