Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Labor Day Weekend at Sabine Woods

Saturday I spent a few hours at Sabine Woods and found it to be jumping with migrants.  In terms of numbers it was comparable to a good day in April, but the species composition is quite different in fall.  Flycatchers were particularly abundant, with numerous empids (including LeastYellow-bellied, and many "Traill's" types), Eastern Wood-Pewees, and Great Crested Flycatchers.  Warblers were also plentiful - my list for the day included Yellow (several), Black-and-white (3-4), Prairie (1), Prothonotary (1), Mourning (2; 1 adult male and 1 female/immature), Canada (3-6!), Wilson's (1), Blackburnian (1), Hooded (1), American Redstart (1), Ovenbird (1), Northern Waterthrush (3-4), and Yellow-breasted Chat (2).  John Wittle also reported a Louisiana Waterthrush at the pond.

Other migrants were also well represented, and included Yellow-billed Cuckoos, Red-eyed Vireos, a Veery (the only thrush I encountered), Baltimore and Orchard Orioles, Summer Tanager (1-2), and lots of greeny Painted Buntings.  Unfortunately there were also swarms of mosquitoes and annoying deer flies, and I spent more time swatting flies than looking at birds.  How do deer flies know to attack your face at the exact moment that a new bird appears?

One of the many greeny Painted Buntings:

I revisited Sabine Woods on Sunday, and again spent a few hours wandering around, mainly trying to sort out and photograph the empidonaxes. I managed to get a better look at Yellow-bellied Flycatcher, a new species for my Texas list that had given me trouble on Saturday.  While walking through the woods I also flushed a Chuck-wills-widow, which briefly perched on a horizontal branch allowing me a decent view.  In general the number of migrants seemed to have decreased, but there was still ample activity, and I got the impression that many of the birds from the previous day were still hanging around.

Warblers included most of the same species seen on Saturday, with the addition of Chestnut-sided, Northern Parula, and Common Yellowthroat.   A Blue-winged Warbler was also reported to be present in the morning, and I later learned that the total warbler list for the day was about 20 species.

Chestnut-sided Warbler, being typically camera shy:

As I was leaving I thought I smelled smoke, but I figured it was either from a controlled burn or mower trouble (the trails were heavily overgrown, and a push mower was being used to cut weeds).  Later I received an email from Jana Whittle that a fire had been set, and had encroached upon the woods.  From the pictures she sent it looks like some trees on the periphery of the preserve were burned.   Had I known I certainly would have stayed to help put out the flames.  Fortunately it rained the next day, so any smouldering remnants of the blaze have since been doused. 

Back at home on Sunday I had a few more migrants: 1 Red-eyed Vireo, 1 Northern Waterthrush, and at evening a large disorganized flock of southbound Eastern Kingbirds passed over our yard.  I've seen foraging flocks down in Costa Rica, but this is the first time I've seen a big flock "on the move."  I thought they were swallows until I recognized their flight calls.


Post a Comment

<< Home