Sunday, January 3, 2016

"First Day" Birding

On January 1, Texas parks host a "First Day Hike." Lake Arrowhead had a morning hike along the Onion Trail and a short nature hike on the nature trail in the afternoon. The Rolling Plains chapter Texas Master Naturalist members were on hand to assist Ranger Joe.

I attended the morning hike. Some parts of the trail were closed due to flooding and pretty much the entire trail was soggy, but several people met up at 8:30 to hike about 4.5 - 5 miles on the Onion Creek Trail. It was good to see that there was water once again flowing over the dam. I brought my binoculars to get in a little birdwatching. We didn't see a large number of birds, but we had some pretty good ones--it was a very good morning for sparrows.

Birds heard/seen during the hike included: American Coot, Canada goose, northern shoveler, gadwall, mallard (I didn't see these--Mike and I were hanging back looking at some sparrows when the leading group flushed a group of ducks), Wilson's snipe, great blue heron, belted kingfisher, double crested cormorant, Inca dove, downy woodpecker, Bewick's wren, northern cardinal, blue jay, eastern phoebe, northern mockingbird, ruby-crowned kinglet, European starling, eastern meadowlark, dark-eyed junco, white-crowned sparrow, fox sparrow, Harris's sparrow, chipping sparrow, and song sparrow.

We had plenty of other water birds, but the sun was behind the birds, instead of behind us, so we couldn't identify many of them. At the conclusion of the hike, I took a quick driving pass along the swim beach area in hopes of more ducks. but other than a lot more coots, the only additional bird was a pied-billed grebe.  Driving home along FM 1954, I picked up a couple of kestrels and a red-tailed hawk.

A nice start to 2016.

Good birding!

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