Sunday, February 6, 2011

NASWC Bird Walk Report

Birders_Close14 folks showed up this morning for my monthly neighborhood bird walk! We started at the Braes Valley parking lot of Lake Creek Trail at 8:00 AM and spent a little over 2 hours on the trail looking and listening for birds. Here's a nice photo of part of the group that Barry Noret took. (I'm the fat guy with the beard in front.) We ended up finding 41 species and here are some highlights.

Cedar Waxwings are usually a common winter resident in central Texas, but this winter they've been a bit harder to find. So we were happy to see a few small groups of them this morning, including these birds that we saw from the parking lot.

Cedar Waxwings

At our first stop on the trail, a few of us got a brief look at a Winter Wren that quickly disappeared and never responded to a recording I played. In the same spot we got to see a Lincoln's Sparrow, Yellow-rumped Warblers, American Goldfinches, and 2 Downy Woodpeckers.

Down the trail a bit further we heard a Cooper's Hawk vocalizing. Through the trees we saw it fly back and forth, and realized a bit later there were 2 Cooper's Hawks both calling and flying around. We never got a clear look at one but I don't ever remember a better opportunity to learn their call.

By the footbridge we discovered an immature Red-shouldered Hawk perched in a very small tree by the creek. It flew a little ways downstream to another small tree. As we looked at it again, we realized 2 Eastern Bluebirds were perched in the same tree with it! Eastern Bluebirds are a pretty common central Texas bird, but for some reason I have only seen them in the neighborhood twice before. So this was a rare treat. I got this poor photo showing the hawk and both bluebirds.

Red-shouldered Hawk and Eastern Bluebirds

We walked downstream and got great looks at 4 species of shorebirds in the creek bed. Killdeer were prevalent in the creek bed and on the grass around it, as usual. But we got an unusual view of a few showing their orange rumps, which is a field mark many of us had forgotten about. 2 Greater Yellowlegs foraged in the shallow water and we saw them well enough to see the slightly upturned bill on one of them. Here's a photo of them:

Greater Yellowlegs

The creek bed also had at least half a dozen Wilson's Snipe, offering good views to us as they periodically walked or flew from one patch of cover to another. And a small flock of Least Sandpipers flew in and landed nearby, offering good close views of them. Here's a photo that was close enough to show their yellow lets.

Least Sandpipers

On our way back George Kerr found a Hermit Thrush that responded to recording I played and flew up to give everyone a good view.

Thanks to everyone who came out early on a cold Sunday morning for the walk. It was a blast!

1 comment:

Annie in Austin said...

Thanks for the post, Mikael!
Last year we had flocks of cedar waxwings in our garden but haven't seen any this year... wondered if something had changed after the big rain in September.