Sunday, May 8, 2011

NASWC Bird Walk

Today 10 people showed up for my monthly bird walk on a beautiful breezy Mother's Day morning. We met at the Braes Valley parking lot of Lake Creek Trail and spent 2 hours covering the half-mile to the footbridge. The May walk is one of the most exciting of the year because the first few days of May are the peak of spring migration in the Austin area. As I hoped, we found lots of spring migrants today and found 46 species of birds in all. Here are the highlights...

One of the first birds I recorded was a Mississippi Kite that flew over the parking lot while we waited for everyone to arrive. It probably spent the night in the woods along the trail and was getting an early start on its continued journey north. We also heard a Dickcissel flying over, and we talked about how to distinguish swallows from swifts (both birds you can find in the open sky during the summer).

We started off down the trail and soon stopped to find a Yellow Warbler in the willow trees along the creek and 2 female Painted Buntings in a mulberry tree eating its fruit. We went a little further down the trail but then returned when I thought I heard a Cooper's Hawk. We didn't find the hawk but saw 2 Least Flycatchers.

A little further downstream we started hearing Carolina Chickadees. We found them in another willow tree along the creek and were delighted to find lots of other birds with them. There were Common Yellowthroats, a Blue-headed Vireo, another Yellow Warbler, a Wilson's Warbler, Yellow-breasted Chats, a first year male Orchard Oriole, and the bird of the morning, a beautiful male Magnolia Warbler. I didn't get a photo of it, but here's one Barry Noret took near this same spot last weekend.

I did get this pretty good photo of one of the Common Yellowthroats:

Common Yellowthroat - 2

At the footbridge we got good looks at 2 Yellow-crowned Night-Herons and a Red-winged Blackbird singing on a wire nearby. Up the tributary creek we watched a mixed flock of Painted Buntings and Indigo Buntings feeding on seeds in the tall grass. A little later a Clay-colored Sparrow perched on a wire nearby and we got great looks at this often hard-to-see species.

On our way back we found a vocalizing Great Crested Flycatcher and an Eastern Phoebe in the same tree. Here's a photo I got of the Great Crested Flycatcher.

Great Crested Flycatcher

A little later a Cooper's Hawk (maybe the same one I heard earlier) flew over the trail and we watched a Purple Martin dive at it and chase it away.

What a fun morning! I was honored that several of the women on today's walk are mothers, and that they decided to get up early and spend Mother's Day morning on my bird walk.


gbmccclure said...

nice job, Mikael. Way to get that yellowthroat out in the open, too!

Mikael Behrens said...

Thanks! Gracen Duffield also got some good photos here.