Sunday, January 5, 2014

Birding on Broadmeade Walk

I was pleasantly surprised that four people showed up on such a cold and windy morning for the monthly group walk. We met at the Parmer Village pond at 8:00 and endured temperatures in the thirties and wind speeds gusting to about the same for about two hours and found 40 species of birds. Here's a Snowy Egret that flew by while I was waiting for everyone to arrive:

Snowy Egret

I was happy to see a few wild ducks on the pond and on Lake Creek -- mostly Gadwalls with a few Northern Shovelers and one Green-winged Teal. These were the first wild ducks I've seen in the neighborhood this winter. Since we had a small group, we explored the edge of the marshy habitat where Lake Creek goes under Parmer Lane and got a brief look at a Marsh Wren. Upstream by the last dam on the creek, this American Pipit was foraging near the sidewalk:

American Pipit

In the strip of woods between the trail and the creek I was happy to find a single Golden-crowned Kinglet along with a small group of White-throated Sparrows. Golden-crowned Kinglets are a winter bird that are much less common than the very similar Ruby-crowned Kinglets, and they have been harder to find in the Austin area this winter. At the edge of the creek we found 16 Least Sandpipers foraging in the shallow water, and I got this kind of cool silhouette photo:

Least Sandpiper Silhouettes

Back on the trail we got a brief look at a Sharp-shinned Hawk as we approached the small bridge near the edge of the playing fields. It came from behind us, and flew under the bridge where we lost track of it. We speculated that it went out the other side because a few seconds later a White-winged Dove flushed from the dense brush on the other side of the bridge. It was a very brief look, but the bird was close enough to see how small these fierce hawks are. They are a winter resident in central Texas that specializes in hunting other birds by chasing them through the forest canopy.

We continued up the trail and emerged into the Town and Country playing fields and into the cold wind. We made it all the way to the first creek crossing and didn't see much. I was happy that for most of our walk we were able to stay in relatively sheltered areas to avoid the wind. We were able to find some good birds in these sheltered areas since the birds were avoiding the wind as well.

Here's our complete bird list. Don't let the cold weather keep you inside!

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