Sunday, June 27, 2010

Blackbirds, Sandpiper, Butterflies

Female or Immature Red-winged Blackbird
I spent about 2 and a half hours birding Lake Creek Trail this morning, starting at the Parmer Village model homes. A breeze and partial cloud cover made the morning more pleasant than I expected, and I found 35 species of birds. Near the drainage pond and along the creek in more than one spot I found groups of female or immature Red-winged Blackbirds. They mostly stayed in the tall grass and reeds and I only got this poor photo of one of them. These birds were very mobile and the whole flock would move when I got too close. Seeing these mobile groups was a hint that maybe most of their nesting is complete and that these were mostly new birds finding their way around, but that's only a guess.

The most interesting bird of the morning was a single Spotted Sandpiper I found on the creek near the second dam. These are common shorebirds in central Texas almost all year long, but in June most are gone to more northern breeding grounds. For the past few weeks the only shorebirds I've seen on the creek have been Killdeer, so finding this guy was a nice surprise. According to the literature, Spotted Sandpipers have reversed sex rules. The males incubate the eggs and care for the young while the females stake out and defend territories. Unfortunately they have not obvious visual differences, so I don't know if this "guy" was really a guy or a gal!

Spotted Sandpiper

While Killdeer and Spotted Sandpipers are considered "shorebirds", the larger herons and egrets are considered "wading birds". There were the usual wading birds on the creek this morning, including Great Blue Herons, Snowy Egrets, Green Herons, and Yellow-crowned Night-Herons. I found 2 more unusual members of this group for the neighborhood as well -- 5 Cattle Egret and a single Little Blue Heron.

I covered the entire trail, finally turning around at the Braes Valley parking lot. Near the footbridge where I found the Northern Parula last weekend, I saw 2 interesting looking butterflies feeding on flowers. They were Silver-spotted Skippers, and I managed to get a decent photo of one of them.

Silver-spotted Skipper Butterfly

1 comment:

sebi_2569 said...

nice blog and nice photo; bravo