Sunday, August 10, 2014

Blue Grosbeaks at Lake Arrowhead State Park

Male blue grosbeak, Wikimedia Commons, Dick Daniels
Saturday was the monthly bird walk at Lake Arrowhead State Park. June, one of the regular participants showed at 7 AM, so it was just the two of us for the walk this time.

Those of you who thought about coming to the bird walk, but decided it was too early, missed a treat. June and I were walking along and I heard an unfamiliar call from the mesquites near the dining hall. We followed the call in to the trees and I noticed a bird at the top of the tree that looked to be in about the location the call was coming from. Of course, as often happens, the bird was between me and the sun, so we had to circle around to get a better view. The first thing I noticed other than the general shape was blue. I knew it wasn't a blue bird, so my first thought was an indigo bunting, which I see in the Lake Arrowhead area now and again. But when I was able to get a good look, it was obvious that is not what we had. The cardinal-like beak is the first clue. The russet stripes on the wings another. We had a male blue grosbeak! Another grosbeak flew in. I thought it was a female, but upon closer inspection, it turned out to be an immature grosbeak. Dad took him a big fat insect for breakfast. I saw the male again later singing in a tree across the parking lot.

This was our best bird, but by no means the only good bird of the morning. Apparently, the egrets/herons are getting ready to migrate. We saw several flocks of snowy egrets (one flock was between 25 and 30 birds) and great egrets. We also saw parent bluebirds feeding their fledglings in the camping area.

June left about 8:30. She had asked me about dickcissel and I told  her I have heard them in the park--they tend to start calling a little later in the morning though. We didn't hear one before she left. I had a mussel watch for the Texas Master Naturalists, so stayed for that and added a couple of other bird species she wasn't with me to see--one of them being a dickcissel about 9 AM. Other birds that morning included: Canada goose, white pelican, great egret, great blue heron, snowy egret, greater yellowlegs, killdeer, turkey vulture, mourning dove, Eurasian collared dove, white-winged dove, golden-fronted woodpecker, ladder-backed woodpecker, barn swallow, cliff swallow, northern cardinal, northern mockingbird, orchard oriole, red-winged blackbird, American robin, scissor-tailed flycatcher, dickcissel, eastern bluebird, common grackle, European starling, and house finch. I also saw a peep that I was not able to identify.

Overall, a nice morning bird walk. Next month, the bird walk reverts back to 8 AM, for all of you who like to sleep in a little bit on the weekend.

Good birding!

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