Sunday, December 12, 2010

Cold, Clear, and Windy

Cave SwallowsThis morning I spent a couple hours birding Lake Creek Trail starting at the Parmer Village end. I wanted to check the patch of marsh by the Parmer Lane bridge for the marsh bird species that I've found there in past winters. The cattails have not recovered from the 9/7/2010 flood yet, so the habitat is probably not as attractive this winter. I found a single Swamp Sparrow but none of the other marsh species. But I was pleased to see a flock of about 45 Cave Swallows. They must have roosted under the Parmer Lane bridge where they build their mud nests in the summer. Most swallows in central Texas are migratory including Cave Swallows, but this species has been expanding its range in Texas for the past 30 years and seems to be staying north longer. A few birds spend the entire winter here. In the summer these birds will forage around the bridge all morning. But when I see them here in the winter, it's always just when they emerge from the bridge and fly around in the sky for a few minutes. Then they leave. Do they forage somewhere else in the daytime during the winter? Was this group of birds on its way south?

It was quite cold and windy this morning, so the best birding was in areas sheltered from the wind but still warmed by the sun. There was a great spot like this at the edge of the woods by the last dam. There were 8-10 species of birds actively foraging including Northern Cardinals, a Ruby-crowned Kinglet, an Orange-crowned Warbler, American Goldfinches, Lincoln's Sparrows, Field Sparrows, and lots of Yellow-rumped Warblers. I got this photo of one of the Yellow-rumped Warblers as it ate berries.

Yellow-rumped Warbler

I was disappointed to find a black house cat lurking in the dense brush among these birds. Free roaming cats kill hundreds of millions of birds every year. If you have a pet cat, please keep it indoors. It's safer for the birds and for your pet. I got this photo showing a Northern Cardinal in the top left and the black cat in the bottom right.

Northern Cardinal and House Cat

I hope to make another post in a few days, but it might be 2-3 weeks before I can post again. I'm scheduled to participate in 5 Christmas Bird Counts during the next 2 weeks and will be out of town for part of that time. So if you do any holiday birding on Lake Creek Trail be sure to report it to and if you like, email me about it. Happy Holidays!

1 comment:

Michael Ziegler said...

I know what you mean about the cats, I saw several mockingbird (I think) feathers around my mailbox this afternoon. Sad...