A Couple of Hours in the Yard

On weekends when I can't get out to some of the locations that can offer better photographic opportunities I try and take a few minutes out in the yard in case anything comes by that might make an interesting photo or give me a chance to add to my yard list.

Given that this weekend was right in the middle of the migration season and a cold front was scheduled to move through, I was thinking that the chance of a mini fallout or at least a delayed takeoff would be high. A trip to Quintana was a distinct possibility, but with 3 kids soccer games, a possibility was all it was. However, the gods of photographic birders, giveth and taketh away, all the games were cancelled, so that meant I was free to go, but the yard was a mess due to the storm, so that left me with too much to do at home. There's just never enough hours in the day.

The plan was now to tidy the yard, finish pruning, clean the pool and water fountain, plant the remaining tomatoes and annual flowers, but having the camera and flash close by. In the five years since we have been in the house, I have been slowly replacing a lot of the shrubs and flowers with Texas natives, and adding water features. The increase in wildlife for a small suburban yard has been a pleasure to watch. The bird list for the last five years now stands at 97.

As I was raking the fallen leaves out of the pool a Hooded Warbler kept jumping around in the leaf litter, never staying still enough to get a photo and always in the darkest corner of the yard. Way to dark to even get autofocus to work. I've had female every year but this was only the second time that I have seen a male, but it's constant movement made it really frustrating trying to get a decent shot.

The cold front must have done some serious disruption to Carolina Chickadees. I had about 12 at any one time in a live oak, busily feeding and chasing each other. I often have a couple around the place, and since I put out nest boxes, a pair have nested each year.

A Baltimore Oriole put in a brief appearance at the top of a Live Oak but didn't hang around long enough to produce anything more than a record shot. As did what looked like a female Tennessee Warbler , but I wasn't even able to get a record shot of her.

House finches have become more common in the yard the last couple of years, I now have a pair visiting one of the feeders every hour or so. I suspect they have a nest close by. We'll see if any youngsters show up over the next few weeks.

The Cardinals nested and have reared a brood of three young. The move around a 6 garden block, the youngsters keep the parents busy demanding food constantly with a very whiny whistle. This is the third year that they have raised young. The male adult is not at all shy and often poses within 12 feet of me. The female is more retiring and doesn't offer the same opportunities, so I was glad to get the shot that I did.

The White-winged Doves have nested again and one is on the nest constantly. They have done a thorough job of forcing out the Mourning Doves. I haven't seen a Mourning Dove in about a year. I was excited to see White-winged Dove 4 or so years ago, that initial enthusiasm has now died away and I'd like see some Mourning Doves back again. Funnily enough, I still see good numbers out in the country, but hardly ever in suburban areas.

Towards the end of the afternoon a small bird was moving through the tops of the bushes, some 14-16 feet off the ground and it would jump out to catch a passing insect. I thought it was an Acadian Flycatcher, but I'm now leaning towards an Eastern Wood-pewee. If this proves correct the list moves to 98!!

Lastly and just for the record, even more squirrels. What to do with them? The younger ones seem to delight in debarking the smaller branches. Once the cambiam layer is destroyed so is the branch. At times I can have 8 at a time either running around the trees or on the ground. I don't really want to trap them and kill them, but they are very destructive to the trees and they also keep trying to get into the roof space. On the positive side they provide plenty of exercise for the dogs.

Lähettänyt terrywoodward terrywoodward, 23. huhtikuuta 2018 18:27

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Pihapunavarpunen (Haemorhous mexicanus)

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Huhtikuu 21, 2018 04:40 PM CDT

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Idänlehtoturpiaali (Icterus galbula)

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Huhtikuu 22, 2018 11:11 AM CDT

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Tammitiainen (Poecile carolinensis)

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terrywoodward

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Huhtikuu 22, 2018 11:24 AM CDT

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Huppukerttuli (Setophaga citrina)

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Huhtikuu 22, 2018 04:20 PM CDT

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Pilkkasiipikyyhky (Zenaida asiatica)

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Huhtikuu 22, 2018 04:50 PM CDT

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Korpisieppari (Empidonax virescens)

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Huhtikuu 22, 2018 04:51 PM CDT

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Pilkkasiipikyyhky (Zenaida asiatica)

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Huhtikuu 22, 2018 04:56 PM CDT

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Punakardinaali (Cardinalis cardinalis)

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Huhtikuu 22, 2018 05:28 PM CDT

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Harmaaorava (Sciurus carolinensis)

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Huhtikuu 22, 2018 05:29 PM CDT

Kommentit

I like what I read here. Of course, as you know, there are probably a thousand species we could find in our yards, were we as determined to find them as we are to see what's 'out there'. But 97 birds is a whopping lot of specimens. Around here in downtown, that would take a very long time since too much of the neighborhood belongs to English Sparrows - called House Sparrows now-a-days out here in the Old West. Some have disbelieved me, but it has only been in recent years that warblers have shown up in my lot or in the national park nearby. I think it due mostly to the lack of Hill Country native tree species. Old accounts of the area written by Spanish observers included the fact that the hills were tree covered as much as the valleys, much to the chagrin to modern interpreters who pretend that this whole area was prairie-like, not forested, but it was - still is in a very few places which are disappearing faster than I can think.

Anyway, great description of your place. Thanks for this. And here's a good word about squirrels. Every nut tree you see (AKA Oak, pecan, etc) were planted by some squirrel. They play a very important role in the ecosystems of the world - are found on nearly all continents - and have subtle impacts on the landscapes around us. Don't even think there are too many - I've seen squirrels virtually disappear in the neighborhood just because a big snake or Ring-tailed Cat moved into the territory and decimated the once thriving population. Besides, they are smart. My nephew - who is deaf - raised a couple of Fox squirrels who lost their mothers a while back and in another state (we in Texas consider them Big Game for shooting). He taught the squirrel - or the squirrel learned - to communicate via sign language.

And I personally know they're smart. I once watched one running along a squirrel path through our lot carrying a pod of three pecans - you know how they grow. He (male) was planning on burying them for winter and while he was running and carrying the pecans two fell out of the pod at intervals. He went ahead and buried the one he had left, then retraced his steps finding each pecan in each recovery and eventually buried all three. I was amazed. Some serious calculation recording going on there folks. Plus their sense of smell is so keen, it's one of their chief means of learning pathways through the neighborhood without crossing the streets and getting killed at higher rates than they do. A squirrels life is always perilous. And productive, imo.

Lähettänyt billarbon melkein 5 vuotta sitten (Lippu)

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