Saturday, December 29, 2012

A Cold Late Morning

It has been a busy December, but this morning I was finally able to spend a couple hours on Lake Creek Trail. I got a late start, arriving at the Parmer Village pond at about 9:30. I was happy to see that the pond had four species of wild ducks: American Wigeon, Northern Shoveler, Gadwall, and Ring-necked Duck. Other birds in and around the pond were a Pied-billed Grebe, Wilson's Snipe, Killdeer, a Greater Yellowlegs, and a Snowy Egret. Here's a photo showing three of the duck species:

Wild Ducks

Also near the pond was a Loggerhead Shrike. These year-round residents have a striking black-and-white-and-gray pattern, and this one let me get close enough for a nice photo. The photo shows its heavy, hooked bill. These birds are small predators, eating things like insects, mice, lizards, and even small birds.

Loggerhead Shrike

I made my way to the marshy area full of cattails in the creek bed near the Parmer Lane bridge.
I was hoping to find marsh species like Marsh Wren and Sora like I have in some previous winters. The creek bed was loaded with Song Sparrows and Lincoln's Sparrows, but the only marsh species I found were several Swamp Sparrows and a Red-winged Blackbird. The last time I checked this spot was in late October, and I found Marsh Wrens and Sedge Wrens, so it was a little disappointing not to find these winter-resident marsh species this morning. Here's a view of this nice patch of habitat:

Cattails by the Parmer bridge

I walked upstream and continued to encounter many Song Sparrows and Lincoln's Sparrows. Between the creek bed and the sidewalk I was also happy to find Vesper Sparrows and Savannah Sparrows. All of the sparrows I've mentioned are winter residents in central Texas, and these two are a little less associated with water than the others. Here's one of the Vesper Sparrows. Its white eye-ring and white crescent on its cheek are good field marks.

Vesper Sparrow

When I got to the last dam on the creek, I was excited to find an Osprey and a Great Egret perched in one of the dead trees by the water. Great Egrets are here year-round, but Ospreys are another winter resident species. These black and white hawks specialize in hunting fish, and I've seen them dive for fish right in our creek. Here's a shot showing them both:

Osprey, Great Egret

And here's a closeup of the Osprey. What a neat bird!


I sure am enjoying the cold weather we're finally getting. Finally I can spend the morning outside without sweating! Here's the complete list of birds I found this morning.

1 comment:

Cheryl said...

beautiful shot of the Osprey!