Sunday, February 15, 2009

Hermit Thrush, Ducks, and Osprey

I was out all morning birding the neighborhood, and the first half of the morning was cold and overcast. But there were several sings of spring, like budding trees and singing birds. White-winged Doves and Northern Mockingbirds were 2 species I heard singing this morning that I have not heard yet this year. At Chester Forest and Stillforest, 2 Red-shouldered Hawks were checking out their old nest from last year. One was in the nest rooting around until I got too close, then the other hawk called a few times and they both flew off.

The T&C playing fields were completely empty today. So I birded their north parking lot off Briarwick Drive, which I haven't birded in awhile since it's usually full of cars and people. By the dumpster I was able to call up this Hermit Thrush with a recording and I got these 2 pictures. These small winter-resident birds are related to American Robins but prefer staying in the dense underbrush.

The different species of thrushes look very similar, but one way to recognize the Hermit Thrush is by the reddish-brown color in the tail and wingtips, which you can see in this second photo. (So far, the only other thrush I've seen in the neighborhood is Swainson's Thrush, only during migration.)

By this time the sun finally came out and things started to warm up. I made my way back to the creek and was pleased to find 5 species of ducks on 2 of the dammed up areas: Northern Shoveler, Gadwall, American Wigeon, Green-winged Teal, and Blue-winged Teal. I didn't want to scare them off, so I only got this low resolution photo of a male Gadwall (top) and a male Green-winged Teal from far away. I hope I can get better pictures of these beatiful ducks soon!

Nearby and a little downstream I was, once again, privileged to get very close to 2 hunting Osprey. And this time I got my best photos yet as these cool birds circled low over the creek looking for fish.

This weekend is the Great Backyard Bird Count. So in addition to logging my bird observations into eBird, I also submitted them to the GBBC. You can see what species people in Austin have found so far here.


Anonymous said...

Great shot of the osprey. I saw one sitting on a pole over a creek on Saturday, but it was a drive-by so I didn't count him in the GBBC.

Mikael Behrens said...

Thanks! The Osprey here put on quite a show when they're hunting. Someone with the right camera equipment and patience could get some fantastic photos of one diving.

Aaron DaMommio said...

Your photos make the 'hood look so good. I guess your area's a little more woodsy than mine, but I suspect you'd see a woodsier side of mine if you lived there, too.

Mikael Behrens said...

Thanks, we do have more trees than most neighborhoods thanks to there being lots of underground water here. Plus the neighborhood is older with larger lots than you see today. Check out Google Maps' satellite view to see the tree cover.

However, there are always birds to find in Austin neighborhoods, and many of my pictures are from areas in my neighborhood without many trees.