As you may have seen in last Saturday's Houston Chronicle, we're having a bird-count on the campus on Friday morning. With this in mind, I spent 30 minutes yesterday checking out the area where my group will be counting.
When I got to the Nature Trail boardwalk, I was surprised by how many Northern Mockingbirds were there - and by how much noise they were making.
It didn't take me long to see what was upsetting the Mockingbirds. A group of twenty or so American Robins had settled in the trees over the boardwalk.
The Robins' presence didn't seem to be bothering our White-winged Doves. As usual, small groups of these were sitting quietly in the trees.
There were lots of small birds flitting around in the branches. As I expected, they all turned out to be Yellow-rumped Warblers.
A different-looking small bird was fidgeting around close to the ground. It took a while but I eventually got a clear photo: Song Sparrow.
At one side of the Nature Trail a Red-shouldered Hawk was lurking deep in the trees. At the other side, I disturbed one of our resident Red-tailed Hawks.
While I was going around the boardwalk, there were flyovers by a range of birds: European Starlings, Black-bellied Whistling Ducks, Cormorants, Great Egrets and a Great Blue Heron (below).
As I walked over to the ditch that marks the northern edge of the campus, I passed a score or more Savannah Sparrows and a couple of Mourning Doves (below).
As I approached the ditch, I frightened away a group of Mallards and a White Ibis (below).
I was surprised to see a pair of Roseate Spoonbills exploring the edges of the ditch. We see Spoonbills flying over fairly often but we very rarely see them land on the campus.
I headed back to my office along the road that passes the burn tower. The trees were packed with Cedar Waxwings.
I took several photos so that I could count the number of birds in the flock. I came up with a rough total of 500-600. That's almost twice as many Waxwings as I had counted a couple of days earlier - but it's only half as many as the flock we had last winter.
As usual, the parking lots had plenty of Great-tailed Grackles.
My final birds were two Black Vultures perched on the corner of the Library, which is where I have my office. These two birds seem to have decided that this is a prime roosting location, because I see them there more or less every day.