Yay! The CyFair campus is finally starting to get birdy again.
For a couple of weeks now Yellow-rumped Warblers have been everywhere I go at the college.
Last Friday I thought I saw a Baltimore Oriole. As that would be a very surprising sighting so late in the year, I wondered if I'd been mistaken. However, on Monday the bird popped up again in the same place. I was able to get only a very quick and very poor photo but it is clear enough to confirm the ID.
Monday was December 7, traditionally the day that Cedar Waxwings turn up on the campus. When I got to work, I spent a few minutes searching but couldn't see any Waxwings. Disappointing! They didn't let me down in the end, though. I made a quick trip to the nature trail area later in the morning and there was our first Waxwing of the winter. No doubt lots more will arrive soon.
Also on Monday, I was leaving work when I noticed an Osprey eating a fish on top of a utility pylon across the north flood ditch. Naturally I pulled over and hopped out to get a photo. Even though I was 50 yards away and it was 120 up in the air, the bird seemed to think I was coming to steal its fish and so flew off. Those Ospreys certainly are paranoid!
I didn't have any time for birding on Tuesday but I got lucky when I came out of the building where I work to see a Great Egret perched right in front of me.
I got to work very early on Wednesday to check for more Waxwings. Unfortunately, it was really foggy.
So when 60 Waxwings appeared, this is the best photo I could get of any of them.
While I was looking for the Waxwings, I came across one of the innumerable Northern Mockingbirds that are resident on the campus. I took a quick picture, mainly to see how my new camera would handle fill-in flash. In spite of the fog, the photo came out reasonably well.
The fog started to burn off before it was time for me to start work and so I walked around the nature trail boardwalk. As I did this, I heard an odd clucking sound, rather like that made by a chicken. I'm terrible with IDing bird calls and I couldn't remember what bird it was. A minute later the bird popped out into the open and revealed itself to be a Hermit Thrush. Doh!
Further along the trail I heard one of the few bird calls I can ID: Carolina Wren. No big deal, you might think, but until a couple of weeks ago I hadn't seen or heard a Carolina Wren on campus for over five years. I'm glad that at least one now seems to have moved in. Perhaps I'll manage to see it one of these days.
One unusual (for the campus) bird that I did get to see on Wednesday was a female Downy Woodpecker. This and other woodpecker species are very common in our general area but this was only the second Downy sighting (and fifth woodpecker sighting) I'd made on the campus in 11 years.
While I'm mentioning which common birds do or do not regularly appear at CyFair, I should mention Blue Jays. I never saw or heard one here in my first eight years on campus. Then, as the area around the college was developed, a couple of Blue Jays turned up. We now have at least half-a-dozen. One of them was around on Wednesday morning.
I didn't have time to look for birds on Thursday but I got to work early today, Friday, and was greeted by eight Great Egrets perched along the railings of the bridge on the north edge of the campus. Naturally, they flew off while I was still trying to get my camera out of its bag.
A few minutes later, I was pleased to find a Spotted Sandpiper by the artificial river. (We rarely get shorebirds on the campus.) I was much less pleased when I realized that the poor thing had only one leg. It seemed to be coping well with it's disability, though, and so perhaps it will survive. I hope so.