Sunday, October 30, 2011

It has been busy, busy, busy.

Unfortunately, I don't mean I've been seeing a lot of bird activity recently. I mean that I've been busy at work. Too busy to do much in the way of birding and too busy to update this blog as regularly as usual. However, things at work will be calming down now and so I should be able to get out and about to see what the birds are up to.

At the college, I've seen a few signs of fall over the past two or three weeks. The nature trail has welcomed House Wrens, Lincoln's Sparrows, Yellow-rumped Warblers, a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker and a Ruby-crowned Kinglet.

Yellow-rumped Warbler

I've also seen a couple of Pine Warblers but unfortunately both of them were dead birds, killed by flying into windows.

We always have Killdeer on the campus but they seem to be more numerous than usual at present.

At home the only new birds I've seen have been an Orange-crowned Warbler and, just yesterday, a Yellow-rumped Warbler.  However, we have seen plenty of our year-round residents: House Finches, Northern Mockingbirds, White-winged Doves, and Downy and Red-bellied Woodpeckers.

Red-bellied Woodpecker

Our Carolina Wrens and their one surviving youngster have been very visible, too.

As usual, though, at home and at work by far the most common bird has been the Northern Mockingbird. Three regularly visit the suet feeder right outside our livingroom window and at the college I rarely see fewer than a dozen on any 5-minute walk.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Back to Brazos Bend State Park

.We wanted to show a visiting friend some alligators and so drove down to BBSP yesterday morning.

We started at the fishing pier at 40 Acre Lake and spotted a group of four baby gators as soon  as we stepped on the boardwalk. 

Four larger alligators were lurking nearby.

A Pied-billed Grebe paid us no attention as it fished in the shallow water. 

A stroll around the lake turned up 16 more alligators and lots of Red-eared Sliders.

However, there were surprisingly few birds. The trail had a few Lincoln's and Savannah Sparrows and the occasional Little Blue Heron and White Ibis.

White Ibis

The water had groups of American Coots, Common Gallinules, Pied-billed Grebes and Blue-winged Teal but only a handful of big waders: a Great Blue Heron, a Tricolored Herons, a Snowy Egret or two, and a Great Egret.

Great Blue Heron

Great Egret

Creekfield Lake had more water than 40 Acre and had scores of Black-bellied Whistling Ducks. Unfortunately, they were all too far away to photograph.

The trees around Elm Lake held American Crows and a solitary Red-shouldered Hawk while the little water remaining had American Coots and Common Gallinules. An Eastern Phoebe was flycatching from reeds in the water. Just before we left, I noticed a flash of red in the bushes by the water's edge. I hurried over and had good views of one of my favorite birds, a male Vermilion Flycatcher.


Thursday, October 20, 2011

Arrivals at CyFair

Monday morning was warm and misty, and the nature trail was absolutely covered in spider webs.

I was pleased to see that a couple of House Wrens had moved in over the weekend.

The cold front moving through the area on Tuesday brought with it lots of Monarch butterflies.

Some of the trees on the campus nature trail had bunches of Monarchs hanging from their branches.

The front also brought birds, including more Lincoln's Sparrows to join the ones that arrived a couple of weeks ago.

Yesterday I was too slow to get photos of a Ruby-crowned Kinglet or of several small flocks of Scissor-tailed Flyctachers that passed over, but I did get one quick shot of a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker.

Thirteen American Coots have settled in on one of the rentention ponds.

Our resident birds have been active, too.  Northern Mockingbirds and Northern Cardinals are presebnt in greater numbers than I've seen there in years.

Meanwhile a Turkey Vulture seems to have decided to fly over every day to see what's happening.

All in all, there has been plenty to look at around the college and I'm hoping that the coming week will bring in even more new birds.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

New Trail on Skillern Tract

.Crossing the bridge, we turned left onto a new concrete path, which gave good views over more flooded fields. The fields seemed to be empty.

Then swarms of thousands of birds would rise up in the distance.

Sometimes the swarms were caused by Northern Harriers diving down onto ducks and other birds grazing in the water.

The path soon ends at an observation platform overlooking a stretch of wetlands that was very busy with hundreds of Blue-winged Teal as well as American Coots, Common Gallinules, Pied-billed Grebes and a single Least Grebe.

We saw few large waders except for this Tricolored Heron.

On our way out of the Skillern Tract, we passed a Loggerhead Shrike that had found a good perch from which to hunt.

Back on FM1985, we were lucky enough to come across a Swainson's Hawk that was too busy grooming to be disturbed by our presence. What a magnificent bird!


Sunday, October 16, 2011

Anahuac Revisited

No, we haven't been back to Anahuac NWR since our visit there two weeks ago. But I just realized that I never finished blogging about that trip and about the wonderful time we had on the Skillern Tract.

The Skillern Tract is part of the Anahuac NWR but is about 7 miles east of the main entrance. A dirt road takes you south between rice fields for a few hundred yards before bringing you to river with a parking area and a bridge. 

On this trip, the rice fields were being scoured by several Northern Harriers.

Down at the river, the vegetation along the river bank was crowded with Red-winged Blackbirds.

We saw no fewer than four Vermilion Flycatchers.

Several alligators were cruising the river or lounging on the bank.

Anhingas looked majestic as they flew overhead.

Two female Belted Kingfishers entertained us for a long time as they either chased or followed each other from perch to perch, clicking loudly as they did so.

On previous trips to the Skillern Tract, we had never ventured beyond the bridge. However, this time we noticed that a new concrete patrh had been built on the other side of the bridge and so we crossed over to see where it would take us.

But I'll have to tell you what we saw in another post because this one is already long enough.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Monday, October 10, 2011

The Week at CyFair

It was a very busy week at work and so I had very few opportunities to walk around the campus. However, as usual, even walking from building to building turned up some sightings.

The mesquite trees between the Library and the TECH building continued to host visiting Common Yellowthroats and Blue-gray Gnatcatchers as well as at least one Wilson's Warbler (below).

The river had Great-tailed Grackles every day.

I had good looks at a Loggerhead Shrike behind the cafeteria.

The parking lot beside my classroom had a Northern Mockingbird that was snacking on parts of a large bug.

The trees around the outdoor classroom were busy with Northern Cardinals, Carolina Chickadees, several Northern Mockingbirds, a Blue Jay, a Brown Thrasher and lots of Blue-gray Gnatcatchers. I didn't manage to get a photo of my first Yellow-rumped Warbler of the fall but good views of an Eastern Meadowlark were some compensation.