Friday, April 24, 2009

Monday on Lake Creek Trail

This is a late post, but I had Monday off and spent the morning birding Lake Creek Trail. I encountered more Clay-colored Sparrows than I have all year. I counted 28 during the almost 4 hours I was out. Most of them were in the dense Mustang Grapevine-covered brush right in the parking lot at the end of Braes Valley. I heard them singing (if you can call their insect-like buzzes songs) as soon as I got out of my car. And I got this picture showing 5 in close quarters. These little birds summer south of us and winter north of us, so we only get to see and hear them during migration.

The morning was bright and clear and very peaceful. I only encountered 1 other person on the trail before I reached the footbridge. And on the way there were a few picturesque views of the creek through the trees, like this one of a pair of Blue-winged Teal quietly using our creek on their way north.

Nearby were a Lesser Yellowlegs and a Greater Yellowlegs foraging together. Both of these species winter in south Texas and Mexico, and they breed in Canada and Alaska. Greater Yellowlegs are pretty common winter residents in the Austin area, and you can usually find a few on our creek in those months. But I only see Lesser Yellowlegs here in the neighborhood during migration. These 2 species can be very hard to tell apart if you just see one by itself with nothing to judge its size by. But in addition to being larger, the Greater Yellowlegs has a proportionally longer bill which is often very slightly upturned.

On the T&C playing fields there are usually a few Scissor-tailed Flycatchers this time of year and through the summer. Often you can find them by listening for their single distinctive "chup" notes. This male let me get close enough for a decent picture.


Anonymous said...

Mike, lots of spring showers this morning on the trail brought out some cheerful birds. My find of the day was a pair of Gray Catbirds, which I have never seen before. Also viewed many Yellow Throat Warblers and Yellow Warblers and a couple Great Crested Flycatcher. Especially in the willowy trees near the parking lot along the creek. I parked in the braes valley parking lot and when I came back to my car there were over 20 clay colored sparrows having fun in the puddles.

I may go back after lunch and explore the parmer end.

Happy Birding... -Barry

Mikael Behrens said...

Wow, sounds like a great morning, I wish I could have been there too! Yeah, those willow trees are a great spot this time of year. Migrating birds seem to love them, and their fine leaves make it easier for us to see the birds in them. Thanks for the report. Could those warblers have been Common Yellowthroats?

Anonymous said...

You are right Mike... it was the Common Yellowthroat. I spent the afternoon in my own yard and had several nice visitors including, Great Crested Flycatcher, pair of Baltimore Orioles, and finally a Kentucky Warbler. Yes I studied him for over 20 minutes make sure it was a Kentucky. It had the brilliant yellow eyebrow. Sometimes staying home isn't so bad. -Barry

Anonymous said...

Mikael, I had to share this with someone who would appreciate it. This morning while having coffee on the back porch I was enjoying the dizzle rain and lookinig for morning feeders. A voice told me to look behind me and I did and saw a large flock of cedar waxwings land atop a neighbors tree. Upon close observation I could see it was a mulberry tree full of fruit. Even closer I saw it was full of wonderful birds. They are still gorging themselves as I type this.

2 Painted Buntings (Male)
4 Rose Breasted Grosbeak (1 Female)
1 Black-Headed Grosbeak
5 Baltimore Orioles (2 Females)
20+ Cedar Waxwings

Who knew if you opened your eyes what you could find sitting in your patio chair!

Happy Birding, Barry

Mikael Behrens said...

Barry, what a great morning! Mulberry trees are very attractive to some of the more colorful migrating birds, as you have discovered. Keep your eye on that tree for the next few weeks.

Anonymous said...

Mulberry Tree Update to List:

Gray Catbird
Willow Flycatcher
Yellow-Breasted Chat