Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Commuter Birding

One of the things I love about living and working where I do is that I only have to extend my commute a little to cut across part of the Katy Prairie. I did this on my way home yesterday, because I wanted to see if Scissor-tailed Flycatchers had returned.

I stopped in for a few minutes at Paul Rushing Park in hopes of getting a photo of one of the American Golden Plovers that have been hanging out there. They're very skittish birds but I did manage a couple of so-so photos.

While I was in the park, I checked out the Dowitchers again. This time I heard their call and it settled the ID issue I had the other day: They are Short-billed Dowitchers.

There were plenty of other birds on the grassy areas of the park: Wilson's Snipes, Killdeer, Greater Yellowlegs, a Willet, Spotted Sandpipers, Blue-winged Teal, Savannah Sparrows, American Pipits and Horned Larks. I was surprised when I checked out a flock of 150 European Starlings and discovered they were actually Brown-headed Cowbirds. That's a bird I don't see very often, although I had noticed a single male on the CyFair campus earlier in the day.

Back on the road home, I noticed that Red-tailed Hawks are now lower in numbers than they were all winter. I saw only three.

Becker Road just south of 290 is usually a reliable place for spotting Scissor-tailed Flycatchers and it turned up trumps again yesterday. Three of the birds were sitting
on utility wires. The only photos I was able to take were rather murky ones through the windshield.

Here's a much better picture that I took at Sheldon Lake last May.

I love Scissor-tailed Flycatchers. I still remember the thrill I got from seeing one for the very first time on my very first day in Texas 8 years ago.



Jayne said...

How lucky you are to be able to commute like that and see the birds. Not that I would recognize most of them if I saw them. I think the reason you haven't seen many cowbirds is because they're all at my house :-( I put seed out for the Chipping Sparrows, Cardinals, Mockingbirds and Blue Jays and before I know it, the garden is a seething mass of cowbirds - argg! I wish I could get rid of them.

Jeff said...

We don't have that problem with Cowbirds, Jayne, though we usually get a few visits in the late winter. The equivalents in our yards are squirrels!