This weekend (February 12-15) is the Great Backyard Bird Count! So I decided to do something I haven't done in awhile: bird the entire length of Lake Creek Trail. I started a little after 8:00 this morning at the Braes Valley end and spent over 4 hours covering the 2.5 miles of trail and some surrounding off-trail areas. It was one of those fun cloudy days when the bird activity seemed to continue all morning instead of slow down by 10:00 AM. I don't know why this sometimes happens on cloudy days. (Maybe it's because the insects that the birds are catching don't speed up as much since the sun isn't out?) I ended up finding 52 species of birds, a great count for our trail.
I was most excited to find a Merlin that briefly perched alongside the creek in the middle of the T&C playing fields. These falcons are uncommon winter residents in central Texas and I think it has been at least two years since I've seen one in our neighborhood!
There was also an Osprey hunting over the dammed up areas of the creek that I managed to get a photo of. This winter resident hawk that specializes in hunting fish was also a species I haven't seen in the neighborhood for a couple years.
I was pleased to find a pair of Red-shouldered Hawks starting to build a nest in the willow trees near the Braes Valley trail head. This is the spot they nested in last year too.
Here's my complete bird list from this morning.