Sunday, September 4, 2011

The Hawk and the Owl

Saturday morning I decided to see what the chat trail and barrow pit at Lake Wichita Park would turn up with migration underway. The weather was a muggy but bearable mid 80's, ahead of a cold front and cooler weather (hallelujah!)

I was very happy to see a little blue-gray gnatcatcher along the chat trail. I haven't seen a lot of these little guys in town, but when I do come across one, it is almost always along the chat trail. A little further along the trail, seven white-faced ibis flew over my head, calling, on their way to the barrow pit.

The barrow pit still has some pools of water, so there were birds, to include the usual peeps I couldn't positively identify. But as I was watching the white-faced ibis and black-necked stilts, a small flock of 11 American avocets circled the barrow pit and landed. They stayed for all of maybe two minutes before heading out to Lake Wichita. They are very pretty birds that migrate through in the spring and fall. In addition to the mallards, blue-winged teal and the redhead ducks that are usually there, a small group of 8 northen pintails were dabbling in one of the pools. It is a little bit earlier than usual to see these ducks, but not by a lot. They are such an elegant duck--one of my favorites.

Throughout my time in park, I kept hearing a red-tailed hawk in several locations. I didn't see him, but periodically heard him calling. On my way back to my truck I heard him again near the chat trail, so looked into some nearby trees to see if I could locate him. I checked out a tree based upon where it sounded like the call was coming from and saw what sure looked like a great horned owl. I couldn't see the head clearly, but the stocky build of the great horned owl is distinctive and not at all like the sleeker build of the red-tailed hawk. But I could hear the red-tailed hawk cry right in the same area. While I was trying to decide if I was trying to turn a red-tailed hawk into a great horned owl, the owl (seemingly irritated by the constant calling of the red-tail) flushed from the tree. A couple of seconds later, the red-tailed hawk flew in pursuit. All I have to say after being around both is that the red-tailed hawk had better hope the great horned owl didn't turn on him--he'd be toast.

The warblers are coming through with a few black-and-white warblers and several yellow warblers along the chat trail. I was also fortunate to get some good views of a hairy woodpecker (I've always wondered, why "hairy?"). There was also a single purple martin soaring overhead--I haven't seen any purple martins in a couple of weeks.

Before going home, I drove to the other side of Lake Wichita to the spillway to see if there was anything special there. With no water going over the spillway, I didn't expect much and didn't get it. A few snowy egret and a greater yellowlegs was about it, although there was a fairly good bunch of killdeer as well.

When I got back to the house, I was pleased to see some black-chinned hummingbirds at the feeder. I think anyone who has a stocked hummingbird feeder is going to see hummingbirds this fall.

Overall a good morning. I am looking forward to the Labor Day holiday. The weather is supposed to be much cooler with a cold front coming through. Fronts usually bring along a good bunch of migrants, so I plan to be out looking for them.

Good birding!

No comments: