Sunday, May 3, 2015

Birding on Broadmeade Walk

Fifteen folks showed up for this morning's group bird walk. Usually, the May walk yields some exciting observations of migrating songbirds, since the first few days in May are the peak of spring migration in Austin. But since there haven't been any very recent storms, the north-bound birds have not bunched up in patches of habitat waiting for better weather. There were a few migrating birds here and there but it was a pretty quiet morning.

While we waited for everyone to arrive a few of us got brief and distant looks at a singing first-year male Painted Bunting (an all-green bird). Many Cliff Swallows and Chimney Swifts were also in the sky above us. When we started the walk we checked out the Red-shouldered Hawk nest near the parking lot. There were at least three nestlings in the nest and they were all getting their flight feathers in. I bet they'll be out of the nest in a couple weeks! Here's a photo of two of them:

Red-shouldered Hawk Nestlings

Nearby we watched male and female Downy Woodpeckers going in and out of a nesting cavity. A little further down the trail some of us got looks at a Least Flycatcher, one of the few actual migrating songbirds we saw. Shortly afterwards we were treated to a migrating Mississippi Kite flying over. It circled over us a few times before heading north and I got this poor photo of that very graceful hawk:

Mississippi Kite

Other highlights included heard-only Gray Catbird, Great Crested Flycatcher, and Red-eyed Vireo. A few of us got quick looks at Orchard Orioles and a Swainson's Thrush. All of us got good looks at Yellow-crowned Night-Herons in the creek bed and two Scissor-tailed Flycatchers over the parking lot near the footbridge. My favorite moment was when a group of 16 Least Sandpipers flew in and landed in the creek bed in front of us. I was hoping there might be one or two sandpipers of a different species with them, but no such luck.

Our year-round resident Northern Cardinals were singing all morning, and I got this photo when two were chasing each other and came in close:

Northern Cardinal

We ended up recording 41 species of birds. Here's our complete list.

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