Monday, November 10, 2008

A Buck and Lots of Sparrows

Yesterday (Sunday) morning I birded the east end of the Lake Creek hike-and-bike trail, starting at the new Parmer Village development. It was completely clear, still, and just a little bit cold at first -- a beautiful morning. Walking towards the creek I saw this single-antlered buck making its way upstream. It took very little notice of me -- it gave me a quick look then continued calmly on its way. It was by far the healthiest looking White-tailed Deer I've ever seen in the neighborhood. The coat (now in its grey winter color) was smooth and seemed thick and full. And although small, the deer looked just a bit muscular. (Usually the deer around here look pretty bad off -- thin, and with rough spots on their fur from parasites or mange.) As I was watching it and taking pictures, I heard the crack of a rifle in the distance. My guess is that someone was deer hunting on the private land across Parmer. Deer season in Williamson County has recently begun.

Shortly after that a Great Blue Heron flew by low, headed downstream. (I think I scared this bird out of the Parmer Village drainage pond.) As I watched it I saw a couple flashes, which caught me by surprise. Then I saw that someone on the other side of the creek was taking pictures of the heron. It was nice to know someone else was enjoying the natural beauty of this area too -- and he had come out even earlier than I had!

Closer to the creek and towards the lift station there was lots of bird activity. A few Ruby-crowned Kinglets, a single Orange-crowned Warbler, a couple Yellow-rumped Warblers, an White-crowned Sparrow, and a White-throated Sparrow were in the and low trees and brush. The creek bed itself is marshy here, with lots of cattails in the wetter area and other kinds of tall grass in the dryer areas. These cattails and grasses were full of Lincoln's Sparrows, Swamp Sparrows, and Song Sparrows (three similar species, all in the same genus). I was excited to hear a Song Sparrow singing, which is a real treat in Texas. Since these birds don't breed here, they usually don't sing while they're here. The last time I heard a Song Sparrow singing was in early July, while visiting relatives in Montana. It's a beautiful song, and it really enhanced my enjoyment of the cool quiet morning. (You can listen to here.) Below is the best picture I've gotten of a Song Sparrow in the neighborhood so far, from back in February. I hope to get a better picture this winter.

I'll spare you the details, but I found 10 species of native sparrows along the creek on Sunday morning, and 45 species of birds in total.

1 comment:

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