Sunday, May 22, 2011

CyFair Campus

Even though the nature trail area at CyFair has shrunk to just a few areas, it's still a pleasant place to escape to for a while when work becomes too onerous or frustrating.

There's always something to look at. Like this cotton rat, which I saw on Friday.

There are usually at least a few birds. too. Friday was quiet for birds but my walk turned up a few Northern Cardinals, Mourning Doves and Brown-headed Cowbirds as well as this Gray Catbird.

I couldn't help but duck when I disturbed a young Night-crowned Heron which flew off missing my head by only a few feet. I instinctively ducked again when another large bird passed low overhead. Turkey Vulture, a bird we used to see only rarely but is now a common visitor. Turkey Vultures are really quite ugly but they fly like angels.

The best sighting along the trail was a Red-tailed Hawk. We always had a resident pair at the college but they disappeared last year, presumably because of all the construction work that was taking place. One started visiting again earlier this year and recently I've seen both birds pretty regularly. I hope they've come back to stay because they're always such a joy to watch.

On my way back to the office I walked by the basketball court to see if it is once again a nesting site for a pair of the Western Kingbirds that have raised young on the campus for the past 8 years. I had to walk around a frog -  or is it a toad - that had parked itself in the middle of the path. (An identical one had been on our doormat at home the previous night.)

A quick scan of the corners of the basketball court roof didn't reveal any signs of nesting. However, an adult Kingbird suddenly arrived, flew up into the southeast corner and then turned and flew away. I looked more carefully at the corner and I could just make out the nest, complete with the mother Kingbird sitting on eggs.

It'll be fun watching the nest over the coming weeks, as the eggs hatch, the parents start bringing bugs to the babies, and then the latter start venturing away from the nest and out along the roof beams. Once the youngsters are big enough, the parents will take them off and lodge them in one of our small pine trees until they are able to feed themselves. Last summer this particular pair successfully raised four young. 

I wonder if they'll be equally successful this year.

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