Sunday, August 16, 2009

Juveniles and Migrants

I spent about 3 and a half hours birding Lake Creek Trail this morning, starting at the new parking lot at the end of Braes Valley. I was lucky to have some cloud cover for about half the time, and the birding was fun as usual. (In fact, I found most of the interesting birds this morning without ever leaving the sidewalk. What a great hike-and-bike trail we have!) About half-way to the footbridge a hummingbird flew by my right ear so close that I could feel the air move. I could not identify it or any other hummingbirds I saw today, but I assume they were all either Ruby-throated Hummingbirds or Black-chinned Hummingbirds, the 2 common summer resident species here. At least 2 juvenile Tricolored Herons are still on the creek, and I got this picture of one of them on the way to the footbridge. A few of these mostly coastal birds show up in central Texas every summer and there have been more reports than usual this summer.

Near the same spot this juvenile Great Blue Heron was hunting and let me get closer than usual, so I got this relatively high resolution picture. Juvenile birds are often not as wary as adults have learned to be.

There were quite a few other juvenile birds on the trail this morning -- mostly dozens and dozens of European Starlings and House Sparrows. And several adult and young American Robins were on the trail too. I'm glad all of these birds had successful breeding seasons despite the drought. Our spring-fed creek is especially valuable to them this year. I got this picture of one of the adult robins in a chinaberry tree (an exotic invasive species I wish we could get rid of).

There were a few south-bound fall migrants out there this morning. The first was this tiny Blue-gray Gnatcatcher that was foraging in the trees at the north end of the Town and Country soccer fields. First I just heard its faint raspy call, then it came out into the open and looked for bugs in the yellow netting of several soccer goals.

For the past couple weeks I thought I've been hearing the harsh flight call of a Dickcissel or 2 on the trail downstream of the playing fields. But I was never sure because I never got a good look at the birds making the call, and there are so many Starlings in that area that can make similar sounds. But today I heard the call again and finally got a good look at this female Dickcissel, another fall migrant.

And I was happy to see that there are still a few Painted Buntings moving south through our neigborhood. I found a male and a female nearby, but did not get a good photo. There was one more fall migrant that I found on my way back -- a Bell's Vireo. I have a few spring and fall records of this species in the neighborhood, but this was the first time I've seen one in the fall before September. I got this poor picture of it. It was a nice surprise on the long hot walk back to the parking lot!

1 comment:

Little Mama said...

We need to come take a hike along your creek. Those herons are awesome! My son would love them!