Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Birding on Broadmeade Walk

About 10 folks joined me Sunday morning for the monthly group walk. We enjoyed a surprisingly comfortable cloudy morning with a slight breeze. Starting at 7:30 we spent about two hours on Lake Creek Trail finding 31 species of birds. But birds weren't the only nature observations we made. It has been a wet summer and as the group walked upstream by the creek bed I couldn't believe how thick the wildflowers were!

Wildflowers in Creek Bed

And scattered in the flowers and grasses were dragonflies, now present in greater numbers than just a couple weeks ago. The most numerous species was Widow Skimmer, but I also spotted my first tiny Eastern Amberwing of the season, and this Halloween Pennant, maybe the most photogenic species of dragonfly in central Texas:

Halloween Pennant

Further upstream alongside a patch of poverty weed I stopped when I heard a loud squeaking which I pointed out to the group as probably being from a rat or mouse in the tall grass. Just a few feet further along I looked down and saw a Texas Rat Snake coiled around a rat! We had heard this poor rat's screams when it was caught by the snake! As we watched and I tried to get photos with my iPhone, I accidentally scared the snake away. It uncoiled from the rat and abandoned it to run from us into the poverty weed. I felt bad that I had caused the snake to abandon its meal, so we quickly moved on, hoping it would come back to claim the dead rat.

The photos I took were horrible but I'll share them anyway. Here's the snake coiled around the rat:

Rat snake and rat

And here's the abandoned dead rat:

Rat abandoned by rat snake

This was a first-time observation for the Birding on Broadmeade walk!

When we reached the last dam on the creek we started hearing a Painted Bunting singing. About 15 minutes later, after we had crossed the dam, the bird finally flew into view and everyone got a great look at it. Here's my distant photo:

Painted Bunting

We went back across the dam and followed the trail upstream into Town and Country playing fields. Along the way we enjoyed seeing Purple Martins using a neighbor's Purple Martin house, and a brief and distant look at a Bronzed Cowbird. At the first low water crossing in the playing fields we hung around for a few minutes and saw mating Eastern Pondhawk dragonflies, and then the male guarding the female from other males while she deposited her eggs in the water. There were also a couple blotched water snakes and this pretty little Rambur's Forktail damselfly:

Rambur's Forktail

A beautiful male Eastern Bluebird made an appearance before we left, and we spotted a male Black-chinned Hummingbird when we got close to the last dam again.

Here's our complete eBird list.

And here are a few more photos on Flickr.

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