Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Birding on Broadmeade Walk

As I finally sit down to write this on Tuesday evening, I just heard a Broad-winged Hawk calling. This species is a newly returning summer resident in our neighborhood. Their distinctive Killdeer-like call is pretty easy to learn. And this species was one we were thrilled to see on the monthly group walk last Sunday morning. Sixteen people joined me at the Parmer Village end of the trail and we ended up recording 47 species of birds. Here are some highlights.

Barn Swallows were present over the pond and along the creek. We watched a few chase a hawk downstream when we first arrived at the last dam. One of them actually struck the hawk a couple times, something I've never seen before. (I've seen Barn Swallows chase hawks before, but never actually hit one.) At first we thought the hawk was a Cooper's Hawk, but later when we saw it again we realized it was a newly returned Broad-winged Hawk. Here are two photos of it from later in the morning, the first with a Barn Swallow in pursuit, and the second of it soaring alone.

Broad-winged Hawk and Barn Swallow

Broad-winged Hawk

We hung around by the last dam enjoying the wild ducks before they leave for the summer. There were Blue-winged Teal and Northern Shovelers, both in fresh breeding plumage. Here is a pair of the teal:

Blue-winged Teal

Other notable birds were a Western Meadowlark (identified as western by the "churt" call it made), a Brown Thrasher, and a Solitary Sandpiper. But the most exciting bird was one that only a few of us saw. Three folks lagging behind the group as we went through the woods by the last dam got to see a male Vermilion Flycatcher hawking insects by the creek! When one of them texted me about it I turned the group around but alas, we could not find the bird again. Here are some of us hopefully searching for it:

Searching for Vermilion Flycatcher

Vermilion Flycatchers are a dramatic electric red-and-black bird that occurs in southwest Texas and along the Texas coast. They rarely occur in the Austin area, mostly in the spring or fall. There are only a handful of observations of this species on Lake Creek Trail.

It's getting warm enough for dragonflies and damselflies on Lake Creek Trail again. Here's a female Variegated Meadowhawk we encountered:

Variegated Meadowhawk

What a fun morning! Here's our complete bird list.
And here are a few more photos.

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