Sunday, March 8, 2009

4 Hours of Birding

This morning I was finally able to spend all morning birding the neighborhood, something I haven't been able to do in about a month due to traveling and other commitments. I found 60 species of birds, including a few interesting north-bound migrants. Starting at the Parmer Village development, I found this Lesser Yellowlegs on their new drainage pond. A few of these birds winter in the Austin area but I've never found a wintering bird in our neighborhood. I've only seen the very similar Greater Yellowlegs here in the winter, so I assume this Lesser Yellowlegs is a north-bound migrant. Telling Lesser and Greater Yellowlegs apart can be tricky, but in this case it was pretty easy. The Lesser Yellowlegs is about the same size as a Killdeer while the Greater is substantially larger. As you can see in the picture, a Killdeer was conveniently close so I could compare it to the Yellowlegs.

In the marshy area near the Parmer Lane bridge I had pretty good luck. I found a single Sedge Wren (probably the same bird I've photographed there before) and got some good looks at Swamp Sparrows. I got this decent picture of one of them. A single Barn Swallow flew over, another north-bound migrant, and I estimated that 80 Cave Swallows have returned to their mud nests under the bridge. I still have not seen a Marsh Wren here this winter, although at least 2 were here last winter.

Near the last dam on Lake Creek I briefly heard and then later briefly saw a Great Horned Owl. These are year-round residents in the neighborhood but it's always a treat to see or hear one. I saw several Field Sparrows in this same area, and for the first time this year I heard and watched a couple of them singing -- a definite sign of spring. In one small group of Field Sparrows I also found a Clay-colored Sparrow. We only see a few of these birds in the Austin area, only during migration. This bird is just a little bit early according to the TAS Austin area checklist.

On the stretch of Lake Creek Trail next to the T&C soccer fields, I found a small flock of finches, mostly American Goldfinches, but including 1 Lesser Goldfinch, 2 House Finches, and 1 Pine Siskin. Pine Siskins are an irruptive winter resident here. Some winters they are present here in significant numbers and some winters they are not. This winter they have been widely reported in the Austin area. (Steven McDonald has seen and photographed a couple of these birds in his backyard on Perthshire.) But this was the first time I personally saw one here in the neighborhood. It brings my neighborhood bird list up to 189 species.


TexasDeb said...

Wow - 189 species. That sounds like a lot to me- is that typical for somebody observing a suburban/urban area?

Aaron DaMommio said...

Very nice photos, these.