Sunday, March 4, 2012

Monthly Bird Walk

Fifteen folks showed this morning for my monthly neighborhood bird walk. It was a beautiful cool and clear morning with little or no wind -- perfect for birding. We started at the Parmer Village demo homes and some of us spent almost three hours covering just less that one mile on Lake Creek Trail. We found 49 species of birds and here are some highlights.

In the Parmer Village pond we had a nice variety of birds, including scope views of several Wilson's Snipe. These skulking shorebirds are often difficult to see and they are only here in the winter. By this time next month they might be gone, so I'm glad we got good looks at them. There were also Gadwall, American Wigeon, Northern Shovelers, American Coots, Pied-billed Grebes, and Double-crested Cormorants in the pond. We had distant views of Great Blue Herons on nests across Parmer Lane. And this Great Egret was hunting along the edge.

Great Egret

Working our way upstream we got brief looks at Song Sparrows and Savannah Sparrows. We also got a pretty good look at a Red-shouldered Hawk in a tree over the creek bed. These year-round resident hawks are more visible right now as they reestablish their breeding territories and start pairing up and nesting.

We spent lots of time at the last dam on the creek. The dammed areas were full of most of the same ducks we saw in the pond, and there were Green-winged Teal, Lesser Scaup, and a single male Redhead as well. There was a Greater Yellowlegs foraging in the shallow water with the teal. On the telephone poles we got decent looks at vocalizing Red-bellied Woodpeckers. And on a dead tree over the creek several Double-crested Cormorants were roosting. In this photo you can see that one was drying its feathers (or just warming up in the morning sun). On the other you can see its green eye.

Double-crested Cormorants

In the woods along the creek we got brief looks at a Texas Spiny Lizard. A few of us even got to see it through my spotting scope! I got this photo of one of our largest native lizards.

Texas Spiny Lizard

Further upstream on the Town and Country playing fields, we got great looks at a beautiful male Yellow-bellied Sapsucker. These members of the woodpecker family are winter residents here and are often hard to see. This one gave us great looks as it flew around tending fresh rows of small holes in the tree trunks and branches. I got this mediocre photo of it.

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

By the time we got back to the Parmer demo homes and pond, we had spent almost three hours on the trail and we were still having trouble stopping. Maybe the same male Redhead had appeared in the pond and we got much better views of it than before. It was hanging around with a female Lesser Scaup. Here they are together.

Redhead and Lesser Scaup

While only a few of us were left, two Barn Swallows and about twenty Cave Swallows flew over the pond. It was nice to see and hear these returning summer residents.

Here's our complete bird species list. What a great morning we had!

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