Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Better and Better

I knew it was going to be a good morning for birding as soon as I started along the nature trail at CyFair college. How did I know? I immediately had good views of a Yellow-breasted Chat wandering around in a bush. While other people often see chats here, I hear but never see them. So this was clearly a very good omen.

To the left I had a quick glimpse of a Sedge Wren, perhaps the same one I photographed the other day. We seem to have a lot of Sedge and House Wrens at present, although our Carolina Wrens appear to have disappeared.

Ten yards further along, I stopped to look through a gap in the bushes and come face to face with a Ruby-crowned Kinglet. A second one joined it and they spent the next minute following each other around from branch to branch only feet in front of me.

Fifteen more yards down the trail I turned onto a small side track and immediately saw two Pine Warblers. Above them, several Yellow-rumped Warblers hurried through the tree tops. Then a different bird appeared: a FOS Orange-crowned Warbler.

Something brown moved on the ground ahead and hopped into the undergrowth as I crept closer. It came back into view as I focused my binoculars: a Lincoln's Sparrow. Between me and the sparrow, another Ruby-crowned Kinglet perched for a moment on a branch six feet away. It turned its head and its ruby crown flashed in the sunlight. That crown is something you rarely get to see!

Higher up, I noticed something climbing up the trunk of a tree. A male Downy Woodpecker. This is the first wodpecker I've ever seen on the campus.

On my right, two more kinglets hopped through the bushes. But these had striped heads with yellow tops. They were Golden-crowned Kinglets. Another FOS bird. As I watched, a third crossed the trail just ahead of me.

By now it was almost time for class and so I walked back towards my classroom. Coming off the trail, I noticed a movement on top of a utility pylon. One of our Red-tailed Hawks? No, too small. A look through the binoculars confirmed it was an American Kestrel, the first I'd seen in months.

I just had time for a quick peek behind the mobile classroom where I teach. An Eastern Phoebe was looking good in the morning sun and half-a-dozen Yellow-rumped Warblers were hopping around in a nearby tree. I made a few pishing and clicking noises to attract them but they moved away. However, a Song Sparrow popped up to see what was happening. Then another sparrow made a dash for safety from the small bush near my feet where he'd been hiding. My FOS White-crowned Sparrow.

All in all, a great hour's birding!


Birdwoman said...

You are getting in some really great birding close to home these days. A Yellow-breasted Chat this late in the season is quite a find. I would have thought they were all winging their way south by now.

I'm off to Brazos State Park this afternoon. Wish me luck.

Jeff said...

I was feeling quite aggrieved at not being able to range further afield this month, but our local area has certainly turned up trumps.

Good luck at Brazos Bend!