Thursday, May 13, 2010

Warblers after Work

I was unexpectedly at loose ends tonight, so after work I spent about an hour and a half on Lake Creek Trail starting at the Braes Valley parking lot. Many species of birds we don't usually see are moving north through the area right now, so I was hoping something interesting would come up. I wasn't disappointed. About 20 yards from the parking lot I saw some movement in a large cottonwood tree that turned out to be a female American Redstart fanning her tail as she flitted around. Soon afterwards I found a beautiful male Magnolia Warbler and 2 females. 2 male Wilson's Warblers made an appearance as well.

After spending almost 30 minutes in this one spot, I finally walked further down the trail. All was pretty quiet until I found a single Chestnut-sided Warbler softly singing. Near the footbridge a female Common Yellowthroat was foraging in the narrow strip of trees between the trail and the creek. Across the footbridge half a dozen Bank Swallows flew over. On my way back I listened to a single Eastern Wood-Pewee where I found the warblers. And I watched a Common Nighthawk diving over the Briar Oaks corporate center parking lots. Their wings make an amazing ripping sound when they pull out of their dives, and I wish I had been close enough to hear it.

There are a few days every spring that are just spectacular for finding birds. Warblers and vireos and buntings seem to be everywhere. One of those days in Austin was this last Sunday, Mother's Day. Steven McDonald on Perthshire reported 9 species of warblers in his yard late that afternoon, as well as Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Baltimore Oriole, and Chuck-will's-widow. I'm sorry I missed it, but I'm glad I got to see a few tonight.

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