This past weekend, the air was filled with the songs of Robins and the whistles of Cedar Wax wings. Thousands of these birds ascended on the Austin area a few days ago. I don’t think it’s probably a coincidence that it coincided with the polar vortex up north. Humans dig in somewhere warm when it gets cold, birds can just fly somewhere warmer! My hiking accomplice and I also noticed alot of Cedar Waxwings… you often see them with Robins so perhaps they decided to ditch the cold up north and join their compatriots for a Texas vacation.
Cedar Waxwings – photo credit H. Valey
During a hike in the hill country on Sunday we found ourselves surrounded by hundreds of Robins. The song of the birds were so intense at times that I felt like we were in a rain forest. The birds were flitting from tree to tree and hopping on the ground looking for insects. We noticed that a few we looked at seemed very tired.
This happened a couple years ago as well, when there was a particularly cold spell of weather up north. A huge group of Robins headed in to Texas, and that time they all landed in my backyard! Well it seemed that way… see the photo below!
Robins – photo credit H. Valey
So in most places the Robin is the harbinger of spring, but sometimes in Austin it’s the harbinger of someone else’s winter.
I tagged along on a Golden-Cheeked Warbler bird banding session with biologist Julie Murray from the Travis County Balcones Canyonlands Conservation office in Austin, Texas. The endangered birds are banded and re-sighted every year during breeding season to help scientists understand how many birds are returning each year, how long they live and how big their territories are, among other things.
Below is a photo essay of the banding experience.
For more information on the BCCP and the Golden-Cheeked Warbler, check out these resources below:
In some parts of the US, Ravens are pretty ubiquitous. Here in Austin their appearance is a bit more rare, but it seems I see more and more of them every year. Austin is a bird friendly town and in that fashion the Austin UT campus has set up a couple of cool bird cams this spring. The first one was the Peregrine Falcon cam on the University Texas Tower and now there is a Raven cam. A nesting pair of Ravens has set up a nest outside of the Texas Advanced Computing Center on campus and you can watch them raise their chicks online while you’re at work. Pretty cool stuff!
Fulton is just outside of Rockport TX, the place that got hardest hit during Hurricane Harvey last summer. You could still see the signs of the storm. Tarped roofs and piles of gathered debris were evident pretty much on every street we traveled in Rockport & Fulton.
When we got to the marina, still more signs of storm recovery. Bait sho
I wanted to get this done in January, but well the month steamrolled over me before I knew what happened.< Anyhow,! I’ve been wanting to do an overview of my favorite nature experiences of 2017.- -more- It’s healthy I think,- to look back on the past year and celebrate the moments that made that year special.> It’s so easy to forget the little things that brought a smile to your face or changed the way you look at the world. One of the reasons I like photography is it allows me to go back to a specific moment in time and relive it briefly.
Today, even though it was barely 30 degrees, which is cold for Austin (yes I’m a whiner!), I got up early and got out to check out a spot I haven’t birded yet. Lake Creek Trail is located in Williamson County in Austin. – It’s basically an easement between a park and a neighborhood with a creek that runs through it.-more- – However the >county put a trail in through there and it is quite good bird habitat.