Monday, February 4, 2019

Birding on Broadmeade Walk

Yesterday morning about 20 people joined me for my monthly group walk on Lake Creek Trail. It was foggy but not too damp when we started at the Braes Valley end of the trail at 8:00 AM. Things started a little slow but we ended up having a fun morning, spending 3 hours on the trail and finding 41 species of birds. Sound travels faster and farther through fog, and we felt like some of the birds singing the morning chorus were almost on top of us even though we had trouble seeing them at first.

We checked the side trail that connects to Holbrook St. and we were rewarded with brief looks at a male Spotted Towhee, an uncharacteristically colorful member of the sparrow family, and longer easier looks at a Ruby-crowned Kinglet. Back on the trail we didn't see much until we got to the footbridge where we first heard and then saw a pair of Red-shouldered Hawks in neighbors' yards near the end of Meadowheath. And a few of us got a brief look at a Swamp Sparrow.

Things picked up when we continued down the trail. We decided to go south of the trail among the baseball and soccer fields, hoping to find a Purple Finch. In one of the baseball fields we found over 20 American Pipits foraging in the grass. Further down we found for Northern Flickers, also on the ground. These beautiful woodpeckers are only in the Austin area during the winter and often forage on the ground. I got this poor photo of three of them:

Northern Flickers

At the eastern low water crossing we were excited to see 38 American Wigeon in the shallow water. You usually have to go further downstream to see ducks on Lake Creek. I was happy that the group was able to slowly cross the creek without scaring them all away. They just slowly moved away from us, sometimes making short flights:

American Wigeons

On our way back we enjoyed finding a group of House Finches and Chipping Sparrows, with one Savannah Sparrow thrown in. And we were lucky to get stunning close looks at a few Eastern Bluebirds. When the group was stopped, this male flew in and landed right above us, and sang!

Eastern Bluebird

Near the footbridge we saw the pair of Red-shouldered Hawks again, and I got this photo of one of them:

Red-shouldered Hawk

The hawks soon returned to the area where we first discovered them. I'm pretty sure they must be planning to nest there.

Here's our complete bird list on eBird.

And here are a few more photos on Flickr.

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