Sunday, June 28, 2009

Katy Prairie

7:30 on Sunday morning and I'm standing in the sun watching a Horned Lark, while three Common Nighthawks wheel overhead and a male Red-winged Blackbird sings from a nearby bush. Is this as good as it gets? If so, I'm not complaining!

I left home early to do some birding at Paul Rushing Park before the day gets uncomfortably hot. (The forecast is for around 100F/38C for the Nth day in a row.)

As usual, the utility lines along the roads between the 290 freeway and the park are busy with Northern Mockingbirds, Loggerhead Shrikes, Scissor-tailed Flycatchers and the occasional Red-tailed Hawk.
Scissor-tailed Flycatchers

At the park, the first birds to catch my eye are three Common Nighthawks circling and calling out over the cricket pitches. My camera isn't well-suited to catching birds in flight but I eventually manage to get one recognizable shot.

There are several Eastern Meadowlarks and Horned Larks in the grass but they are very jumpy and the best I can do is to get one photo of a Lark.

Walking around the perimeter path, I get lucky and come upon a Nighthawk resting on the blacktop.

Overhead is a constant procession of Barn and Cliff Swallows, while the fence on the southern edge of the park is lined with N. Mockingbirds, Loggerhead Shrikes, Eastern Kingbirds and lots of dragonflies. However, they are all very skittish and fly away as I approach. It obviously isn't going to be an easy day for photography! Part of the problem is that my progress is continously heralded by dozens of Black-necked Stilts and Killdeer which fly around me and screech loudly to warn everyone that I'm invading their territory.

Luckily, a male Red-winged Blackbird is more interested in showing off to females than in my approach.

The edges of the lakes have Great Egrets, a Snowy Egret, a Little Blue Heron and a Great Blue Heron. However, the only birds actually on the lakes are a few Black-bellied Whistling Ducks and three ducks that I think must be some sort of Mallard hybrids.
Mallard Hybrids?

Black-bellied Whistling Ducks

By 9:00 a.m. it's already pretty hot and so I head home. All in all, not a bad 90 minutes of birdwatching.

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