Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Yellow-crowned night heron

Friday, last week, I think it was, I spotted a yellow-crowned night heron in the dead branches of a large tree leaning over and into the southwest edge of Rainbow lake. There were several green herons in the vicinity too.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Season still turning

It was a great pleasure recently to have a yellow-breasted chat in our neighborhood - a first-time sighting for me. In the past few days the common nighthawks have been making their return known with their repetitive "peet-ing" from overhead in the evenings and early mornings. Western kingbirds are back in force too -- they show up a few weeks later than the scissortails, for some reason.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Seasonal comings & goings

I saw a male northern harrier on power lines just south of Lubbock yesterday. He'll be leaving for cooler climes soon. Although I've seen these and other harriers often enough, 99% of the time they're airborne, quartering over some swamp or savannah or field. It was almost a shock to see this one perched!

Our scissortails are back in numbers, in Abilene and across west Texas. Purple martins, barn swallows and cliff swallows are much in evidence again, as are the chimney swifts.

We had clay-colored and Lincoln's sparrows in our front yard among a mixed group of birds foraging under the bird feeder -- both of these were new to me, so a real pleasure to have a prolonged look at them. These fellows are also probably on their way northward.

There was a Bewick's wren inside our garage a few days back -- I've often been impressed with how bold and even intrusive these diminutive birds are when pursuing their insect and arachnid prey.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Recently in Abilene

We had a ladder-backed woodpecker in our neighbor's front yard a few days ago. That same afternoon a sharp-shinned hawk wheeled overhead - first I've seen around here for several months. Turkey vultures are back in the vicinity also on a daily basis. And I passed a red-tailed hawk on S. 1st St. this afternoon (nothing unusual in that).

What was unusual, in my experience, was a wild turkey that we startled just a couple of blocks from our house. It flew up into a mesquite tree - obviously a large bird, but it wasn't until it landed that I realized what it was. They are not infrequent outside town, but I've not come across one in this residential area before.

Had close views of a Carolina wren in a nearby alley as it searched for breakfast on the ground and low on the mesquite and hackberry tree trunks.

Lots of warblers calling these days, but I haven't had binoculars handy often enough to identify one in a while.

I've been seeing shovelers, canvasbacks, ring-necked ducks, mallards, cinnamon teal, and many American coots on local ponds and reservoirs.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

San Antonio streets

In San Antonio, Texas this weekend for the international TCubed convention for math and science educators. Walking the streets and sitting on the river walk we've caught brief glimpses of a peregrine, some diminutive greenish warblers (probably kinglets) and a yell0w-crowned night heron.