Sunday, March 29, 2009

Lots of Migrants and a Black-throated Sparrow

I sure did enjoy birding the neighborhood on this cold and clear morning. On Lake Creek Trail near Holbrook Street I had a huge surprise: this single Black-throated Sparrow. This species has never even been on my mental radar as a possibility here in the neighborhood. It's a southwestern bird that is usually found in desert-like areas. (We are on the eastern edge of their range and we don't have the arid habitat they prefer.) The last time I saw a Black-throated Sparrow was years ago when I took a trip to Big Bend. So I was floored when I got this bird in my binoculars, and I was excited to get a couple identifiable photos. I'm amazed at the birding surprises our neighborhood keeps springing on me.

The birding was lots of fun otherwise as well. I started from my house on Broadmeade and found some great mixed-species foraging flocks on Stillforest and on Meadowheath. I counted over 31 Ruby-crowned Kinglets, and most were singing. I got this picture of one on Stillforest:

There were also many Blue-gray Gnatcatchers and I counted 9 Nashville Warblers, a new addition to the songbirds moving north through the area. One flock on Meadowheath had all these birds as well as a Blue-headed Vireo, Yellow-rumped Warblers, Orange-crowned Warblers, and 4 Black-and-white Warblers (2 singing males and 2 females). I got this picture of one of the female Black-and-white Warblers:

On Chatterton Court I got this picture of a Black-crested Titmouse, one of our year-round resident birds.

Besides the Black-throated Sparrow, there were lots of other sparrows on Lake Creek Trail this morning. I counted 15 Lincoln's Sparrows and there were a few Field Sparrows singing. I got this picture of one of them.

On my way back I saw the first Broad-winged Hawk I've seen this year, soaring over Lake Creek near the trail footbridge. The Red-shouldered Hawk nest at Chester Forest and Stillforest still has a parent on it incubating eggs. But I checked on the Great Horned Owl nest near the last dam on the creek and did not see a bird on it. Maybe this nest was a casualty of our violent hailstorm last week?


Gracen D said...

Sadly, I think the owls were a victim of bad timing. The chick had hatched - I saw the eggshell on the ground and part hanging off the nest. I went to check immediately after the storm. There was a parent on the nest at that time, but I suspect they may have had to abandon it during the height of the storm. Our neighborhood was slammed by the hail.

The good news is that the owls are still around. I heard them hooting back and forth. I think they have chosen a site closer to Amber Oaks, if they are nesting again.

Mikael Behrens said...

Thanks for the update Gracen! That's sad to hear but I'm sure the owls will try again. Let me know if you find their next nest. Last year a pair nested right over the trail just upstream of the footbridge, and you could look at the big chicks before they could fly without even leaving the sidewalk.

Dawn said...

Congrats on getting the Black-throated Sparrow sighting and photo. How lovely!

Sorry to hear about the owl chick.

TexasDeb said...

That is indeed sad news about the owl chick. I had been wondering what the consequences of such a violent storm are for the many creatures caught without a refuge.

I continue to be impressed not only with your great photo captures, but by your ability to identify the many different species. That is a trait I lack nearly entirely with regard to wildlife. I can tell a deer from a raccoon from a snake from a bird but that is nearly it for me.

Thanks for sharing your gifts!

Mikael Behrens said...

You're welcome, Deb. Writing the blog continues to be a fun project. I'm pretty good at identifying birds, but anything else (especially bugs and plants) usually requires some internet searching when I get home!