I spent about three hours on Lake Creek Trail on Sunday morning, hoping to see some birds heading south. Starting at the Braes Valley parking lot, I was a little surprised that the woods between there and the footbridge were pretty quiet. I made my way to the eastern most low water crossing on the creek bed before turning around. On my way I noted higher numbers of Killdeer (our year-round residents are joined by south-bound migrants right now) and a few Least Sandpipers in the creek bed.
I was hanging around a little downstream of the last low water crossing when I spotted a few Mississippi Kites in the sky. These migratory hawks are extremely elegant fliers with long pointed wings and long tails. They often catch dragonflies out of the sky, and when they migrate it is often in large groups. The group I was watching turned out to have 36 birds, and here are 14 of them:
It turns out that two other Austin-area birders saw larger groups of Mississippi Kites on the same morning. Weather conditions must have been good for them to travel!
On my way back I found a few more cool migrating birds in the creek bed.
Near a group of Least Sandpipers a single Lark Sparrow came in for a careful drink. This must've been the first time I've had this grassland species in the same binocular view as the wetland-dwelling sandpipers. Just east of the footbridge I stopped and spent some time looking through the tall vegetation in the creek bed. There were many House Sparrows, but mixed in with them were a few little songbirds on their way south. I got this poor photo of a brilliant male Dickcissel:
And here's one of several Yellow Warblers that were present in the creek bed. This one was foraging in the Giant Ragweed:
There were also a few Painted Buntings in the creek bed which I wasn't able to photograph well. But I was excited when this distinctive butterfly flew by and briefly landed:
It's a White-striped Longtail, a tropical species that doesn't occur much farther north than Austin. And there haven't been many seen in central Texas this year.
Here's my complete bird list.