Saturday, April 30, 2011

Lots of Spring Migrants!

The last few days of April and the first few days of May are usually when the most migrating songbirds pass through the Austin area on their way north. So I was excited to be able to spend over 4 hours birding the neighborhood this morning. Almost as soon as I left my house at about 7:30 AM I saw 14 Mississippi Kites low in the sky. My guess is that they roosted in our neighborhood last night. I got this poor photo of a few of them as they gathered together in the air, gaining altitude and drifting north.

Mississippi Kites

Thanks to a garage sale on Stillforest and lots of activity on the Town and Country playing fields, there was more car traffic on the streets this morning than usual....
At times it was frustrating trying to look for birds while keeping an eye on passing cars, or trying to listen for birds over engine noise. But I was still able to find a few interesting birds while on the streets. Right now Carolina Chickadee parents have fledged their first broods which are following them around still begging to be fed. So a good way to find birds is to listen for this begging sound and find a family group of chickadees foraging in the trees. Sometimes there are a few other birds foraging with these family groups and this morning I found two Black-throated Green Warblers, a Blue-headed Vireo and a Nashville Warbler this way.

I was relieved to finally get to Lake Creek Trail at the end of Meadowheath at around 8:45. I could stop worrying about cars and concentrate on birds. Although there were many people on the playing fields, I only encountered a few other people on the trail. So I was able to spend long periods of time staking out birds I could hear but couldn't see, or just waiting by pockets of good habitat to see what emerged. It was a delightful and mind-clearing way to spend the morning. The birds were there, but they were not very easy to find and see this morning. So I was happy to find these north-bound migrants: Swainson's Thrush, Gray Catbird, Eastern Wood-Pewee, Common Yellowthroat, Yellow Warbler, Wilson's Warbler, Yellow-breasted Chat, Indigo Bunting, Painted Bunting, and Rose-breasted Grosbeak. My only complaint is that the light wasn't better for photography this morning. But I took this mediocre photo of one of the Grosbeaks anyway.

Rose-breasted Grosbeak

What a fun morning!


Cheryl said...

I don't think I've seen a grossbeak...I think it's a terrific picture! Thanks for posting!

Anonymous said...

Cold front this afternoon might make it interesting birding later today. -B

Mikael Behrens said...

Excellent point, B! I just might get back out there today...

Michael Ziegler said...

Hi Mikael,
Jan and I walked the Town and Country trail and I saw my first heron of the year. Dark grey color, medium size (green heron?) but I didn't have the camera.

Mike Z