This morning 18 folks participated in my monthly neighborhood bird walk -- wow! We spent about 2 hours on Lake Creek Trail starting at the Braes Valley parking lot. Despite breezy and overcast conditions we had a great time. I recorded 37 species including two firsts for the year. Here are some highlights.
While waiting to get started a dozen Double-crested Cormorants and a Broad-winged Hawk flew over the parking lot. The hawk was the first Broad-winged Hawk I've seen this year. And just as we started I heard the twittering of Chimney Swifts and saw 2 fly over us. We saw a few more of these newly returned summer residents in the open sky later during the walk too.
Making our way down the trail we heard several Northern Cardinals and Carolina Wrens singing. We also heard at least 2 White-eyed Vireos. We finally got decent looks at one of the vireos a little further down the trail and Gideon McClure got this photo of it:
Near the footbridge we got great looks at a Red-shouldered Hawk perched on a wire above the creek. I got this photo:
From the bridge a few of us got quick looks at a few Lincoln's Sparrows and 2 Swamp Sparrows in a brush pile in the creek bed. Both are winter residents on their way north. And we got a better view of the Red-shouldered Hawk from the bridge, enabling us to see its red-orange barred breast.
Shortly after crossing the bridge we were treated to a great view of a Yellow-crowned Night-Heron hunting in the creek bed. These exotic looking herons specialize in hunting crustaceans like the crawfish in our creek. They are newly returned summer residents here and everyone was thrilled to see this one. Gideon got this great photo:
Further down the trail we briefly saw a female Eastern Bluebird. Then on our way back we got great views of the female again and of the male bluebird in the cottonwood trees by the water fountain. It was a real treat to see the vivid blue and orange colors of the male. Here's a photo of probably the same bird that I took yesterday a little further downstream:
Also on our way back we found a Greater Yellowlegs on the creek. And a Sharp-shinned Hawk flew over us near the footbridge. It was a good view of the hawk, showing the small head, slightly forward-slanting wings, and squared-off tail that distinguish it from Cooper's Hawk. We ended the walk near the parking lot with great looks at the first Great Crested Flycatcher I've seen this year.