September 2012

Once again the effects of another hot, dry summer made for curtailed birding activities for me. I’m not a fan of hot weather and I don’t think the birds are as well. For most of June through the end of August, we didn’t get to visit our Byars property. Rain in that area came 2-3 times and the pasture and trees did not appear to suffer too much, but there was no runoff to fill our pond, so it’s very low. We did not get enough rain throughout last winter and spring so we went into the hot summer with the water level extremely low and it only got worse.

In mid-August we did make a quick trip to check on the property and we found a pair of Solitary Sandpipers enjoying the low water. They are rather entertaining to watch and relatively tame. Not much else was stirring, including me!

As always, the Mississippi Kites that nest in our neighborhood are interesting to watch as they patrol the space above our back yard. Their calls make me smile. Our Eastern

Great-crested Flycatcher, at the nest. © Patricia Velte

Bluebirds nested twice in the front yard and I think they actually fledged at least two offspring. We had a Great Crested Flycatcher nest nearby and raised a few Chickadees and Bewick’s Wrens. The Cooper’s Hawk is still a presence and has nested across the street again. It spent a lot of time zipping from its nest tree, across our back yard and into the pecan trees in back. From there it created much anxiety and scolding from the Mockingbirds. A summer visit by a brilliant male American Goldfinch was a welcome surprise. There seem to be many Eurasian Collared Doves and Mourning Doves in the area, but no White-winged Doves. For several evenings back in June, a Night Heron (Yellow-crowned, I think) came to roost in the pecan trees. That was a first.

In the past week or so, I’ve seen several Brown Thrashers visiting the birdbaths, along with Mockingbirds, Robins and Blue Jays and of course the House sparrows. I finally saw a hummingbird in the yard about three weeks ago. I was sitting on the patio with my morning coffee when I noticed the hummer feeding from the flowers of a bat-face culphea plant I had moved to the edge of the patio. I am not always able to find this plant each year, but it’s been easy to grow if it’s kept watered thoroughly and hummingbirds do seem to like it. It became a little stressed when we had our 110+ days and I moved it out of full sun and it perked up again.

The Barn Swallows that nest on the sides of the Capitol Building were quite successful in fledging several broods. One July morning I was walking up the stairs on the north side of the building when I noticed dozens of young Barn Swallows lined up on those historic windowsills in the shade. They were swiveling their delightful little necks back and forth and up and down while following the parent birds flight patterns and begging. There was much chirping, stuffing and wing-flapping going on. I really enjoyed it from the cool of the building.

It’s now early September and we are so looking forward to some cooler weather that will persuade me out and into my beloved woods once again.