Saturday, February 5, 2011

Snow, Snipe, Creeper

Squirrel Tracks in Snow - 1I spent about 3 hours birding the neighborhood this morning, and enjoyed finding these squirrel tracks in the last of Thursday night's snow. Snow is still novel for me, since I've never spent any extended period of time where it's common. I enjoyed walking through the few remaining patches and feeling it crunch under my feet, and grabbing a small handful now and then.

From my house to the creek was a little quieter than I expected, but there were many American Goldfinches and a few Cedar Waxwings around. And I was happy to find 2 Pine Warblers on Meadowheath.

At the creek I was excited to see that 4 or 5 Wilson's Snipe were foraging in the creek bed, mostly out in the open. This winter resident shorebird is usually very well hidden in its wet, grassy, reedy habitat.  I only see them when I unknowingly get too close to one and it makes its strange scresh call and bursts into erratic flight. I got this photo of one next to a much  more common Killdeer in the creek bed. It's a good comparison of 2 different approaches to camouflage. On the left, the Killdeer has disruptive camouflage. The 2 horizontal black bars on its white chest help break up its shape and make it less recognizable as a bird. On the right, the Wilson's Snipe has cryptic camouflage that blends in with its surroundings.

Killdeer and Wilson's Snipe

On my way back home I found a third Pine Warbler, which was a record. I've never seen more than 2 Pine Warblers in the neighborhood. Pine Warbler is one of several unusual winter species in central Texas that we are seeing many more of this winter than usual. Another one of those species is Brown Creeper. I'm seeing more of those this winter as well, and I found one as I walked back home on Broadmeade, just a block or two from my house. I got this photo.

Brown Creeper - 2

No comments: