Friday, October 29, 2010

Summer Is Over

Yesterday it certainly felt like summer was over, because it was cool (and windy) when I did a morning walk around the CyFair campus.

My walk started off quietly with just the birds that I expected to see: Northern Mockingbirds, Northern Cardinals, Loggerhead Shrike, Eastern Phoebe, Indigo Buntings, Sedge Wrens and a Winter Wren.

A flyover by a Turkey Vulture and a Cooper's Hawk added more interest. (Cooper's Hawks are common enough in our area but they seem to even more common than usual this fall.  I've seen them everywhere I've walked in the past couple of weeks.)

I also had good views of a flock of Black-bellied Whistling Ducks passing overhead, always a beautiful sight.

I kept getting brief glimpses of several small birds flitting around in the trees and bushes. Buntings? Sparrows? I couldn't tell but they didn't look right for either buntings or sparrows. Then one landed for a moment on a brush pile. Yellow-rumped Warbler! Yes!!! My camera's image stabilization is iffy at present but the photo was clear enough for ID purposes.

I was excited. Not because it was another first-of-season bird. But because to me the arrival of Yellow-rumped Warblers is always the sign that the summer is finally and definitely over. I can now be fairly confident that temperatures will be much more moderate for the next several months. More important, I can be pretty sure that winter residents will soon start returning to our yards. It has been a long wait and I'm excited that it's almost over.

Later in the Day

As I was leaving the campus late in the afternoon, I noticed a group of Black-bellied Whistling Ducks on one of the retention ponds. I turned around, parked and walked over to the pond. Not just some Whistling Ducks but a whole family of two adults and eight ducklings!

In previous years we've had several pairs of BBWD have raised families on our ponds but this year I hadn't seen any signs of breeding activity and I assumed the ducks had been scared off by all the construction work going on at the college. Well, one family isn't as many as we're used to but it's certainly better than I feared.

As a bonus, a Belted Kingfisher was sitting near our waterfall as I walked back to the car.

No comments: