The first week back in Cypress after our Valley trip the weather was so bad that I did almost no birding. However, the past few days have been drier and brighter, so I've managed to do a few walks around the CyFair campus.
The ditch on the north side of the campus is attracting a lot of Great Egrets, up to two dozen at a time. Some of them perch on the bridge crossing the ditch, which makes it easy to photograph them.
The same ditch usually has a couple of Great Blue Herons. These spend the nights in nearby trees.
The bushes and trees south of the ditch are full of Northern Mockingbirds. I've given up trying to count how many of these we have on campus.
Sometimes one of the Mockingbirds turns out to be a Loggerhead Shrike, always a welcome sight.
Our many White-winged Doves tend to stay mainly in the trees, while our equally numerous Mourning Doves spend their days grazing in the short grass.
The other day I was watching our resident Red-shouldered Hawk (below) when a pair of Cooper's Hawks zoomed across between me and the Red-shouldered.
A few minutes later our resident pair of Red-tailed Hawks circled lazily overhead. As is typical of hawks - but not falcons - the female (top) is visibly larger than the male (bottom).
As I walk from building to building, I frequently see birds perched on the rooftops. Last week a pair of Black Vultures caught my eye.
This week it was a Crested Caracara, a bird that we don't see very frequently on the campus although it is very common on the prairie just a few miles west of the college.
Winter residents have been slow to arrive this year but they're trickling in now.
The first to arrive were Ruby-crowned Kinglets and our three winter Warblers: Yellow, Rumped, Pine and Orange-crowned (below).
Eastern Phoebes were early arrivals also.
Only a few sparrows have turned up so far. This morning I noticed a handful of Savannah Sparrows and I expect they'll be joined by many more before too long.
The only other sparrows I've spotted this month have been a couple of Song Sparrows, a species that I don't normally see on the campus.
Although Cedar Waxwings haven't arrived yet, I saw my first flock of American Goldfinch this morning.
Surprisingly, Goldfinches still haven't appeared at our feeders at home. Perhaps they'll turn up with the next cold front to move into our area.