Monday, August 3, 2015

Birding on Broadmeade Walk

Due to schedule conflicts I had to cancel the monthly group walk for July, so I was glad to lead the August walk yesterday morning. Eight of us spent a surprisingly mild couple of hours finding 32 species of birds. We started at the Braes Vally parking lot and enjoyed a distant view of a first-year male Orchard Oriole. A couple of us also briefly spotted a Summer Tanager. Both of these species breed in central Texas, but I only see them in the neighborhood during migration -- these birds were on their way south.

We enjoyed clear morning sunlight on our way up the trail to the footbridge. The birds were pretty quiet, and once again we found some great dragonflies. There were several bright red Neon Skimmers, a few Widow Skimmers, Roseate Skimmers, and Comanche Skimmers, Eastern PondHawks, and this one which I did not recognize:

Gray-waisted Skimmer

When I got home I tentatively identified it as a Gray-waisted Skimmer, an uncommon species for Austin which has been found in nearby Yett Creek Park this summer. I was happy to have my identification verified by several local dragonfly authorities on iNaturalist. It was a lifer for me!

When we arrived at the footbridge we were treated to some cloud cover that made the rest of the walk unseasonably pleasant. What a treat it was to be outside in August and not sweating! We continued downstream through the playing fields. In the creek bed we got to see several American Rubyspot damselflies, one of the larger and more dramatic species. Here's one of them:

American Rubyspot

On our way back we found a Red-shouldered Hawk perched on one of the wires over the creek. It alternately looked at us and then the creek bed, searching for prey, until we got a little to close and it proceeded upstream:

Red-shouldered Hawk

When we got back into the woods we briefly saw a juvenile Cooper's Hawk interacting with an American Crow. The hawk flew across the creek and we saw that there were two more juvenile Cooper's Hawks. I think these must have been siblings from the pair that has nested in this stretch of woods along the trail for the past few years. I've always wondered if they were successful. Here's a poor shot of two of the three:

Cooper's Hawk

Here's our complete bird list. What a fun morning!

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