Sunday, May 31, 2009

Feeling like Summer

I spent about 3 hours birding Lake Creek Trail yesterday morning, starting at the Parmer Village community. It's starting to feel like summer. The weather was bright and hot, and numbers of north-bound migrating birds are tapering off. The only migrants I found were 1 Least Flycatcher, 1 Mourning Warbler, 1 Pectoral Sandpiper, 4 Spotted Sandpipers, and 1 White-rumped Sandpiper. Summer birding takes on a different focus than in the spring when all kinds of birds are passing through the area. Species diversity is lower and birding becomes more about appreciating the summer and year-round resident species we have here, like these 2 Inca Doves in their fresh breeding colors that were foraging near the last dam.

Among the other summer birds I found were juvenile Barn Swallows being fed by their parents (sometimes in mid-air), a Scissor-tailed Flycatcher chasing off an American Crow, a few Eastern Phoebes (the only flycatcher that you can find in the neighborhood year-round), a male Black-chinned Hummingbird, and 2 White-eyed Vireos.

I encountered 2 or 3 Blotched Water Snakes on the creek and got this picture of one. Our creek has lots of water snakes in it and I think Blotched Water Snakes are the most common kind. They eat anything they can catch in the creek, including fish, frogs, and crawfish. They grow to be 3-4 feet long, and they are non-venomous. Back in 2007 I posted about finding one in the process of swallowing a large bass and I put up a series of pictures. Here's my blog post and here are the pictures. Be warned, the pictures are a bit gruesome!


Anonymous said...

Wow, those snake pictures from last year are intense. I had no idea they could eat something that large. I don't think I've ever seen anything quite like that... but I hope I get to someday.

Mikael Behrens said...

Yes, we stood and watched that snake swallowing the fish for 45 minutes! We just couldn't turn away. When you spend enough time outside looking at birds and nature, eventually you see stuff like that. It's amazing!