Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Along the Creek

I had the day off today, so I spent a couple hours birding Lake Creek Trail this morning. When I got there a little after 9:00 I recognized Barry Noret's truck. He had gotten there earlier and found another Golden-winged Warbler and a Blackburnian Warbler, two spectacular colorful migrating songbirds. I was too late to find these but there were also some interesting birds along the creek. Wilson's Phalarope are one of many species of shorebirds moving north through the area right now, and they are one of the most striking. There were two in the creek bed along with Least Sandpipers, Pectoral Sandpipers, and Lesser Yellowlegs. They were both brightly colored females. Here's one:

Wilson's Phalarope - 2

One interesting thing about phalaropes is that they have reversed sex roles. The male tends the nest and has dull plumage. The female has much brighter showy plumage. If you get a chance in the next few days, try to find one on the creek where it goes through the playing fields. You won't regret seeing these stunning birds.

Two other shorebird species I found this morning were Semipalmated and Baird's Sandpipers.
I only see a handful of these birds each spring, so I was excited to find them. They're both just barely larger than the tiny Least Sandpipers which are the most common on our creek. And they both have black legs which helps to tell them apart from the Leasts.

Barn Swallows have returned for the summer and are already nesting on the sides of our houses and other buildings. They build their nests out of mud. While I was looking at the shorebirds, I noticed that two were landing on a muddy spot in the creek bed and collecting it. Here's a photo I got of them:

Barn Swallow Collecting Mud

This time of year you might see large turtles walking around away from the creek. Don't feel like you have to rescue these animals -- just leave them be. They are probably female Red-eared Sliders looking fora  place to dig a hole and lay their eggs. I encountered this one laying its eggs near where I found the sandpipers:

Red-eared Slider Laying Eggs

If you enjoy my blog and also enjoy observing wild plants and animals in the neighborhood yourself, you might be interested in a Project that I created on iNaturalist.org to track wildlife in our neighborhood. It's called "NASWC Wild" and anyone can view it and contribute to it. I'm very impressed with the design of iNaturalist.org and I'm excited at the possibilities it has. Check it out!

NASWC Wild on iNaturalist

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