Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Monday, November 28, 2011

Last Week at CyFair

.The day before Thanksgiving I took a short walk around the CyFair campus, hoping that some new birds might have arrived.

As it turned out, the ponds did have some new birds. About 40 Ring-necked Ducks had joined the 100 American Coots and half-a-dozen Redheads which arrived some days earlier. Unfortunately, the ducks moved to the far side of the ponds when I approached and so I wasn't able to get any photos. The Coots were less nervous.

Songbirds were scarce around the ponds: The only ones I saw were a Yellow-rumped Warbler and an Eastern Meadowlark.

Just as I was leaving, I caught a brief glimpse of a Northern Harrier flying low over one of the parking areas.

The nature trail was very quiet, except for a Ruby-crowned Kinglet.

Then, walking back to my office, I came across a Red-shouldered Hawk. Unlike most hawks, it was not bothered by my presence but sat there while I took several photos from perhaps 20 feet away.

After that it was back to work!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving Birds

Took a quick drive up to our Tomball campus this morning to see the pair of Hooded Mergansers that spend the winter on the pond there. The light wasn't good but the birds still looked beautiful!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Sunday, November 20, 2011

California 2: Oakland

.Last Sunday we drove over to Arrowhead Marsh in Oakland, which is one of the best winter birding sites in California. Unfortunately, it was a little early in the year and so we saw a comparatively small range of birds.

The most common water birds there were Western Grebes.

I didn't spot any Clark's or Eared Grebes but there were a few Horned Grebes.

As everywhere we went on our trip, there were Ring-billed and California Gulls aplenty.

An American Pipit was busily beating a large bug to death on a picnic table.

Apart from some Golden-crowned Sparrows, the best bird we saw was a Burrowing Owl. If we had seen no other birds, getting good views of a Burrowing Owl would have made the trip worthwhile!

After Arrowhead, we went over to Lake Merritt, which is also in Oakland. Again it was rather early in the year for this site but we still saw some good birds. The lake had lots of Double-crested Cormorants as well as a colony of Great and Snowy Egrets.

Some young Black-crowned Night Herons allowed us to walk up within a few feet of them.

In nearby trees we watched American Robins enjoying some berries.

A Cedar Waxwing looked stunning as it paid a quick visit to the same trees.

Another tree had a Townsend's Warbler. 

Our final views were of a bunch of Dark-eyed Juncos grazing in the grass.


Friday, November 18, 2011

California 1: Urban Birds

.While in San Francisco, I had a chance to spend a little time in the Yerba Buena park, in the heart of the city. Although the park is small and offers little good habitat, it was busy with birds. Several species were drawn to the various water features.

Some of the birds came to drink. Like this Brewer's Blackbird.

Others came to bathe. Like this Western Gull. Which really took bathing seriously.

European Starlings seemed to like making as much of a splash as possible.

Other birds - like this Western Gull and Red-winged Blackbird - appeared to be happy just hanging out and enjoying the fall weather.