“Nature is ever at work building and pulling down, creating and destroying, keeping everything whirling and flowing, allowing no rest but in rhythmical motion, chasing everything in endless song out of one beautiful form into another.” ~ John Muir
From Winter To Spring
It’s spring migration, and WHEW. Glad that’s all over. Or not. I can’t decide.
It’s been hours since we enjoyed another first-comer to our yard — a Magnolia Warbler. It’s been another great beginning of the year for birding, though nothing like last year for accidental weirdos.
We always begin the year at our favorite spot: Brazos Bend State Park. Our largest daily tally for species at that park kicked us off for the 2018 counting year: 56 species. In the blah that is winter in Houston. WHOA.
Surprise West Texas Bird!
Come spring, we saw two more birds for the first time ever at that park. The only time I’d ever seen a Yellow-breasted Chat before was when I came upon a dead one at a local taco shop some years back in — apparently due to a window strike. (Yeah, I’m the lady that takes pictures of dead birds to ID later. Don’t judge me.) After that, he’d only been heard every spring migration, never seen. If you listen to his distinctive sound, you’ll know why he’s called a ‘chat.’
(Incidentally, this species was just moved in iBird from the warbler family where he’s always weirdly been placed into his own unique class. Congratulations, you chatty little non-warbler!)
Finally, a beautiful living and present individual at our favorite local park, doing what he does in the wild .. and cooperative for me to shoot ta boot. After all that trouble, he went ahead and spent several days in our yard for me to chase for the first time as well. Fancy that. Reminded me of the Blue-headed Vireo of last year.
Brazos Bend State Park
Lifer! (for me to see)
On that same day at BBSP, we saw a flash of a small bird fly from one side of the reeds to the other. Scott and I immediately and simultaneously said ‘RAIL’ looking for a Clapper or a Sora, this cute little Least popped his head out instead.
It’s nice to be wrong sometimes.
(If you’ll remember last year, we searched high and low for years for this guy and only just spied him after a fellow birder pointed him out. ‘Birding Effect’ at it again.)
When we went out to Colorado Springs in March, we had some fantastic close encounters with birds who were apparently already accustomed to human interaction. The kids thought this was the best vacation ever! We called our every-day hikes ‘breakfast with birds.’
Don’t let the greys of their feathers fool you — these guys were filled with colorful personalities.
Northern Pygmy Owl
Trail Buddy — Twice in the same spot!
(Not for me .. for the other lady in front of him!)
In spring, everyone sings, so birds (the males anyway) are easy to spot .. if you’re listening. A blind man could find this rambunctious guy.
Who Wants Meee! Conk-a-reeeee!
And there are the other passers-through that we can only see if we go where they are. We went as often as we could to the coast and carefully spied the trees and shorelines of refuges and nature preserves for the lovely migrants who stop in for food on their way up north.
Such a short window for so many beautiful species, it’s worth the frequent day trips to catch every one! It’s such a challenge counting and shooting that a few days we just went with our field glasses alone. Easier on the head (and neck).
Mr. Frowny Face
Patient Photo Subject
Irritating Photo Subject
Mulberry Tree Specialist
Black-throated Green Warbler
Photographer Calorie Burner
Makes Trash Cans Gorgeous
Ho Hum Magnificence
And back on the property, life goes on as usual for our regular yard birds. The Carolina Chickadees family have already fledged — there are six babies! — with Mom and Dad diligently (exhaustively?) keeping their noisy brood satisfied. Mr. Cardinal makes his rounds every morning; I can set my clock to him. Mr. and Mrs. Wren have built another nest on the back porch .. still waiting for eggs.
Birds and feathers aside, just today the matriarch deer gave birth to another fawn .. in our yard again, 3rd year straight. So, so very WOW. (That’s for another post, another day.)
Life is very, very good, peeps.
He sings, ‘This yard ROCKS!’
The Bird Bath
Spring Bluebird of Happiness
We have 237 bird species for the year.
What’s your number?