Sunday, May 3, 2009

NASWC Bird Walk

This morning 9 of us met at 7:30 for the May NASWC bird walk. Last year the May walk was the most exciting of the year, and I think today's walk was probably the most exciting of 2009. We had a pretty good showing of spring migrant birds. Although it was not as spectacular as I had hoped (probably because most of the storms passed through north of Austin) we still found 52 species including 9 species of warblers. Here are the highlights:
  • We saw and heard a beautiful male Northern Parula in the large Cottonwood tree near the trailhead. It was soon joined by a Warbling Vireo.
  • By the creek we found this Western Kingbird, a common summer resident in the Austin area that is now returning.

  • By the creek we also found 1 or 2 female Painted Buntings, and I got this picture of one of them. We saw several more and finally saw a colorful male when we got to the footbridge.

  • Also from the footbridge we got a good look at a nearby Yellow-crowned Night-Heron.
  • On our way to the bridge we found a single female American Redstart and on the way back we found this male. Both were fanning their colorful tails as they foraged. Redstarts are infamous for being even more active than most other warblers, which makes it hard to get a good look at them.

  • We ended the walk by a strip of Willow trees and a single Mulberry tree by the creek near the trailhead that had several birds, including Yellow Warblers, Wilson's Warblers, Common Yellowthroats, and a single Yellow-breasted Chat.


Little Mama said...

We were in Palmetto SP this past weekend and saw some wonderful birds! Loads of cardinals (which I adore) and all sorts of smaller songbirds that I couldn't identify (one looked like a finch), a ginormous flock of egrets and the icing on the cake was a beautiful crested caracara that we saw land on a telephone pole just outside of Luling! The egrets were impressive, I've never seen so many! I'll post a pic when I do my next blog entry. The early morning birdsongs were AMAZING! Truly nature at it's best!

Michael Ziegler said...

Hi Mikael,
I thoroughly enjoyed the walk Sunday! It was great to see all the species that I had missed on walks of my own. All the folks were very kind and generous with help for a "newbie."
I will have to go on a few walks of my own to get better at catching the birds' movements. The more experienced birders were much better at that than I was.
Love your bird photos too! I didn't even see you take the shots.
Very stealthy!
Best regards,
Mike Z

Mikael Behrens said...

Trina, sounds like a great time at Palmetto State Park. I often drive by that park on my way to the coast -- I need to make some time to stop and check it out next time. Crested Caracaras have been expanding their range northward over the years. I even see one in the neighborhood once in awhile. Those dramatically colored birds are always fun to see!

Mikael Behrens said...

Mike, I'm glad you made it to a bird walk. Yes, the walks seem to have gathered a very nice group of folks together! Half the challenge of birding is getting your eyes on the bird, first with your naked eye and then with the binoculars. (The small active warblers are especially difficult.) It's a skill you can work on at home, practicing picking out a particular spot with your eyes and then transitioning to seeing that spot through your binoculars as fast and smoothly as you can, then back to your naked eye, then back to the binoculars, etc.