Saturday, May 12, 2012

Bird Walk at Lake Arrowhead State Park, and After

Indigo bunting. Photo courtesy of Kevin Bolton, Wikimedia Commons.
Four people met me this morning for the monthly bird walk at Lake Arrowhead State Park. It was cool and overcast. Overall, the walk wasn't the best birding I have had at LASP, but neither was it the worst. We started over behind one of the camping areas, made our way near the swim beach and then drove over to the area around the group pavillion/nature trail area. I was hoping for a good migration bird day, but it didn't pan out. We did see some migrants; just not as many as I had hoped.

I think the only bird I saw before the others arrived that we did not see subsequently were some double-crested cormorants. Other than that, here are the birds we heard/saw: Canada goose, mallard, great blue heron, little blue heron, great egret, snowy egret, cattle egret, green heron, killdeer, spotted sandpiper, mourning dove, northern bobwhite, Bewick's wren, barn swallow, cliff swallow, purple martin, yellow-billed cuckoo,  northern mockingbird, scissor-tailed flycatcher, yellow warbler, Bullock's oriole, red-winged blackbird, great-tailed grackle, house finch, lark sparrow, dickcissel, and great crested flycatcher.

We also sighted one other bird that to me looked like a male orchard's oriole. I think the rest of the group was convinced it was just another sighting of the Bullock's as we saw it very briefly just before the Bullock's showed. However, I am going to stay true to my ID--there is too much difference between the two. I will admit the look was very brief, however.

The yellow warblers and Bullock's orioles were thick. We saw several of them. Sue and Warren wanted very much to see the yellow-billed cuckoo we heard, but we weren't successful at finding him. (Sorry guys. I did see one fly across the road in front of me on W. Arrowhead later.) We ended our outing about the time a rain shower started around 8:45. Although we only heard bobwhite in the park, I did see one on W. Arrowhead and then again later on FM 368.

After the rest of the group left, I did some of my mussel watch at an inlet between showers. There I added turkey vultures and American coot to my LASP list for the day.

Leaving the park, I decided I wasn't ready to go home, clean house and grade papers/final exams for my classes, so I decided to try out the Bridwell tank on W. Arrowhead Rd. I walked around along the road in that area and didn't see anything special. I got back in my truck and took off and what do I see on the fence? An indigo bunting! It didn't stay up long, which is normal, but it did provide a good look.

I drove down to the boat ramp and then circled back. Once again on FM 1954, I made my way to FM 368 and then over to Hwy 277 and home. Along the way, I did pick up a few more good birds, mostly in Archer Co, to include: upland sandpiper, yellow-crowned night heron, black vulture, kestrel, American crow, loggerhead shrike, Western kingbird, eastern phoebe, eastern bluebird, American robin, brown-headed cowbird, common grackle and house sparrow.

Along FM 1954 I encountered a large flock of blackbirds. I thought at first it was a flock of yellow-headed blackbirds. However, I didn't see a male among them. I did pull off and take a good look. There were five or six female yellow-headed blackbirds mixed into a flock of brown-headed cowbirds. I am lucky there were no males. I might have driven right by instead of stopping. If I had driven past, I wouldn't have picked up the two upland sandpipers.

On FM 368 I encountered a huge flock of migrating Bonaparte's gulls. The must have been nearly 100 birds in the flock. When I returned to Wichita Falls, there was another flock of well over 100 at the intersection of FM 369 (Southwest Parkway) and Barnett Rd. Fortunately, the light was red, so I could stop and put some binoculars on the flock circling overhead.

Overall, a good morning.

Good birding!

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