Sunday, September 9, 2012

Cold Front and Birds

Saturday was our monthly bird walk at Lake Arrowhead State Park. I predicted really good birding because of the strong front that came in Friday night.  Well, I was right and wrong. We didn't have a very good day at Lake Arrowhead, but Lake Wichita was another story.

I met up with Fernando Barrera at Lake Arrowhead State Park at 7 AM. Fernando is the new education coordinator at the park. Unfortunately, Fernando and I were the only people there. However, it was a beautiful morning, so we decided to bird. Overall, we didn't get many birds: Great egret, snowy egret, cattle egret, great blue heron, killdeer, Canada goose, ladder-backed woodpecker, red-winged blackbird, mockingbird, cardinal, common grackle, scissor-tailed flycatcher, yellow warbler, eastern bluebird, and lark sparrow.

When I left the park, I decided to make a quick trip by Bridwell tank. Due to the drought, the front portion of the tank is completely dry and there wasn't much water in the back half of the tank. However, there was a good flock of lark sparrow and my first northern harrier of the season.

I then drove down to the boat ramp and picked up some turkey vultures, double-crested cormorant and my first ring-billed gull of the season, looking a little worse for wear.

On the way back to Wichita Falls I decided to make a quick stop at the Lake Wichita spillway. I'm glad I did as the front appeared to have brought in the first wave of winter ducks. There have been some white pelicans on the lake for a few weeks, but as of Saturday morning, there were well over 100 birds on the lake. Greater and lesser yellowlegs, black-necked stilts and a few avocets were also present. Several female/immature northern shovelers were the first for me of the season as well as a large number of gadwall. A flock of 21 blue-winged teal were also moving around the lake. A small group of coot stayed over the summer, but it appeared larger numbers had come in. The stop was rounded out with a belted kingfisher, turkey vltures, great-tailed grackle, snowy egret, great egret, great blue heron, red-winged blackbird, mallard and three black terns.

Overall, a very good morning. This is a great time of year to be out birding. It's cooler and birds are moving, so there's always the possibility of a surprise.

Good birding!

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