Sunday, August 2, 2009

NASWC Bird Walk

This morning 8 of us participated in my monthly NASWC bird walk and I could not believe our great luck! In addition to finding 40 species of birds, we enjoyed an unseasonably cool and pleasant overcast morning. We started at the Parmer Village drainage pond and the only time I saw the sun was when it rose through this small window in the clouds. Here are some highlights from the walk.
  • While standing by the creek near the last dam, a single Tricolored Heron flew by and landed upstream. Later we found 2 juvenile birds and I got the picture below. These are usually coastal birds, but a few wander inland (usually juveniles) this time of year. These 2 were the first I've seen in the Austin area this summer.

  • In and around a patch of woods by the creek we found several early south-bound migrating songbirds. The first was a female Black-and-white Warbler hopping up and down the larger branches and trunks of a liveoak tree. Later we found a single female Summer Tanager eating grapes off a wild grape vine. And along the outer edge of the woods we saw at least 4 Painted Buntings (both males and females).
  • In this same patch of woods we started to hear many American Crows gathering and making lots of noise. One of our group discovered that the crows were harassing a large owl, probably a Great Horned Owl. A few of us got fleeting glimpses of this owl through the trees as the crows chased it away.
  • In the creek bed there were 4 species of shorebirds. In addition to several year-round resident Killdeer, there were south-bound migrating Least Sandpipers, Solitary Sandpipers, and Spotted Sandpipers.
  • On our way back we got great looks at a pair of Lesser Goldfinches as they fed on thistle seeds. These colorful year-round resident birds were no more than 20 feet away from us.

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