Sunday, August 5, 2012

Birding on Broadmeade Walk

Ten folks showed up this morning for the Birding on Broadmeade monthly walk. We met at the Parmer Village demo homes and spent over two hours covering about a mile of Lake Creek Trail. It was clear and still and warm! But the birding was great fun. Here are some highlights. We started off the walk where we parked, just looking at the Parmer Village pond. The water level is down which has created shorebird and wading bird habitat. South-bound migrating Least Sandpipers, Solitary Sandpipers, Spotted Sandpipers, and year-round resident Killdeer were foraging on the exposed mud. Western Kingbirds and Scissor-tailed Flycatchers were also uncharacteristically on the mud, catching insects. And there were six species of herons and egrets hunting in the shallows: Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, Snowy Egret, Little Blue Heron, Green Heron, and the first Tricolored Heron I've seen on the creek this summer. Tricolored Heron is a coastal species, but this time of year many immature birds wander inland from the coast and show up in central Texas. This was one of those birds. We finally made our way up the trail to the last dam on Lake Creek and got a brief look at this Blue-gray Gnatcatcher in a juniper tree. (Sukumar Veena took the photo.)

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

Blue-gray Gnatcatchers breed in central Texas, but never in neighborhoods in my experience. (I don't know why.) So I assume this bird was a post-breeding wanderer.

On the water we were treated to great looks at a Snowy Egret and Little Blue Heron hunting side-by-side in the creek and catching several fish. It was fascinating to watch the different hunting styles at such close range. The Snowy Egret was much more active and the Little Blue Heron was much slower and deliberate. We were able to watch how intently the Little Blue Heron looked for prey, making slight side-to-side and wobbling adjustments with its head. Here's the Little Blue Heron.

Little Blue Heron

And here's the Snowy Egret, still in breeding plumage.

Snowy Egret

From the same spot, we saw even more of the same shorebirds that were in the pond, got pretty good scope views of an adult Cooper's Hawk, and were treated to a brief close view of a Belted Kingfisher. It was a great day for dragonflies as well. We saw at least six different species. I photographed this Red Saddlebags Dragonfly. Look at the detail in the red areas of the wings!

Red Saddlebags Dragonfly

Despite the heat, everyone had a good time and we found 38 species of birds. Here's the complete list.

On Monday August 13th, I'll be giving a presentation of my birding experiences in this neighborhood to the Williamson Audubon Group. Details are here. Join us and find out about this great local birding organization!

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