Saturday, August 21, 2010

A Few Fall Migrants

I had been looking forward to birding the neighborhood for the first time in a couple weeks but when my alarm went off this morning my enthusiasm suddenly waned. So I hit snooze a few times and finally got up and got out the door birding at 8:00. I'm glad I did! Right across the street from my house I heard an unfamiliar chip note. I tracked it down and finally got a short look at a beautiful male Black-throated Green Warbler, the first south-bound fall migrating warbler I've seen this year. What a great way to start the morning!

Making my way down Stillforest and Meadowheath yielded only the usual resident species. A couple times I thought I heard the "whit!" call of a Least Flycatcher but I couldn't be sure. At Lake Creek Trail footbridge I found a female Summer Tanager, another fall migrant. This species breeds in central Texas, but I have only seen them in the neighborhood when they're migrating. I got this poor photo, but you can see the large bulbous bill and bright orange-yellow color.

Female Summer Tanager

On the other side of the bridge this female hummingbird was catching small insects out of the air. It's easy to forget that they eat bugs and don't exclusively drink nectar and sugar water.

Female Hummingbird

Near the end of Holbrook Street I found this Wheel Bug in the tall grass. It's actually a predator that catches and eats other bugs, and it's one of the largest insects in the Hemiptera order.

Wheel Bug

On my way back, crossing the footbridge again, I decided to head downstream and look for migrating shorebirds in the creek bed. In the middle of the playing fields I found about 50 Least Sandpiper and got this photo of one of them.

Least Sandpiper

Further downstream I found more Least Sandpiper, 4 Solitary Sandpiper, and 1 Spotted Sandpiper. The Least Sandpipers will be the tiniest bird on our creek all winter long. The other 2 species might be here through the winter as well, but it much smaller numbers. And the birds I saw today were probably all just passing through on their way south.

On my way back in a small group of trees by one of the parking lots I heard unfamiliar chip notes again and this time found 3 Yellow Warblers. These bright yellow birds are also on their way south.

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