Ten folks joined me this morning for what turned out to be a beautiful and fun morning finding 38 species of birds and one snake. The winter songbirds have returned in force, and we enjoyed seeing and hearing Yellow-rumped Warblers, Orange-crowned Warblers, Ruby-crowned Kinglets, House Wrens, and Song Sparrows in addition to our year-round residents like Northern Cardinal and Carolina Wren.
Down a side trail we found a nice mixed-flock of songbirds and watched Yellow-rumped Warblers, Orange-crowned Warblers, and Ruby-crowned Kinglets foraging in dense brush, often in poison ivy, like this Yellow-rumped Warbler. (The berries are poison ivy.)
Back on the trail we found a tiny snake, which I think was a young Texas Brown Snake, with a unique pattern of dark markings on its head:
Our rarest bird of the morning was a brief and distant look at a small warm-brown bird with a conical bill that we finally figured out was a first-year or female Indigo Bunting. These birds are expected in central Texas in the summer and during migration, but by now most should be on the wintering grounds in Mexico and Central America. We flushed this little bird out of the tall grass at the edge of the creek bed up into a willow tree:
Nearby in the creek bed we heard an then saw another small bird with a conical bird, an expected returning winter species: Song Sparrow. There were two or three birds making their "chimp" calls and I was excited to get a few good looks at one. These were the first I've seen this season. Here's one of them:
A little further downstream we found a flock of 11 Least Sandpipers that we had seen flying past us earlier. And then a Greater Yellowlegs flew in and landed right in front of us, calling as it landed. It was obviously uncomfortable when it saw 10 people watching it, but it stayed a few minutes and gave us great close looks at its bright yellow legs before it called again and departed.
What a fun morning! Here's our complete bird list.