Bird Brain Chronicles, Bird pics and story

January 11 – This Was No Place Like Home

Mueller Lake Park in Austin is a beautiful park in a high end area of town. Anywhere you go, you have to pay to park. Well, in the park, the parking is free, if you can find a space. I did and took a walk around the lake. While talking with Austinites, I was told that this park was built on the site of their old air port. The lake is full of ducks, some domesticated, some wild, and some in-between. There were a number of different types of birds in the water and in the surrounding areas. I was met first by some coots swimming with the ducks. I believe the ducks are ring-necked ducks. (Google images said “mallard” but Bing Images led me to Ring-necked duck.) This is the first time I’ve identified ring-necked ducks. It’s always a joy to get a new bird! Most of the pictures that I have of them though, was when they were swimming away. This is one of the ring-necked ducks without the coots.

There were a number of domesticated ducks and Muscovy ducks as well. I’ve seen them locally, and, to be honest, they aren’t my favorite birds to photograph.

 

 

I saw some cormorants in different parts of the lake and loved watching them dry off their wings. Apparently, their wings aren’t totally waterproof, according to William Mays, so they have to dry off their wings. In the past I’ve seen ten or twenty of them at a time standing on the bank of a lake drying their wings this way.

 

 

 

 

Grackles abound in Austin as well. Who would have guessed. As I talked with someone walking the trails, because I blocked his path, he told me that it was perfectly understandable and that he loved watching grackles, too. I’m not a big fan of grackles, but ya gotta love the eyes.

 

 

I saw my first few yellow-rumped warblers of the year at the lake. They were hiding in a tree, flitting around quickly when they left, so I didn’t get very good shots, but they were there. You can see the flash of yellow in the pic. They have a similar flash on their rumps – hence the name. One of their nicknames is “Butter Butt.”

 

 

 

 

What body of water would be complete without an egret – a Great Egret in this case. There is such an air of royalty about them. Every move is deliberate as if planned. This one worked hard to shun my picture taking, but I got a few good shots in.

 

 

 

 

 

While there were a few mottled ducks and female mallards, the last duck I’m going to look at is a Crested Mallard. According the the article I just linked, this duck is the product of selective breeding to give this mallard the crest or tuft on its head. It’s apparently a tame bird gone wild. I thought it looked interesting, and so I shared it.

Today was a tiring day – walking around the park, then sitting and waiting on my wife who does contract work for the state. Then, we had a long drive home in rainy conditions. Still, it was a good one. Not only was I able to get some good pictures, I got to spend a lot of time with my wife.

Bird Brain Chronicles, Bird pics and story, Daily Work

January 8 – Yes I Missed Yesterday But Today Was Good

I had a weird schedule yesterday and didn’t have any good period of time to go out looking for birds. I won’t get into it but after Sunday’s “Oh, those are birds,” day and yesterday not getting out, I wanted to get some good pics today. I headed out to the Suter Wildlife Refuge which has given me great opportunities for pictures in the past. (Well except for the most recent Christmas day but let’s not get into that. I was pleased with the chances today. I did try to take some pics of birds as they flew, but those didn’t come out well. It does keep me learning, though.

The Suter Wildlife Refuge is set up with a boardwalk out to a viewing area along the water. The first bit of water you see is an inlet that the electric company uses for cooling (I think.) The first bird I saw was a Great Blue Heron. I do enjoy the big birds. They are so much easier to get a good picture of. The little birds flit around all the time and won’t sit still for me. But the big birds, the royalty of the bird family, if they acknowledge you, it’s with a glare that lets you know that your presence may be tolerated. (If they fly away, it wasn’t.) Later I saw a second Great Blue Heron grooming himself and showing, by example, how all distinguished gentlemen should groom. (I did have problems getting my head upside down…)

 

 

 

 

 

 

A common sight in that inlet are the coots. I wouldn’t normally include this picture but, if I read it correctly when shooting, it was eating, and I always like to get pics of the birds eating. This one was eating his salad with algae dressing, I believe.

 

 

 

 

Then, I saw the bird that made the whole trip worthwhile to me. A black crowned night heron was sitting on the branches on the other side of the inlet. A few years ago, I had gotten pictures of a yellow crowned night heron, but hadn’t seen a black crowned one. They’re a little smaller than most of the other herons based on my unscientific observations, but they’re beautiful birds. I joined another man who was enjoying his view of the bird. We talked after it flew away. The pictures I got of it flying were blurry.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Downstream about ten yards from the heron was a Great Egret. Egrets fit in well as members of the royalty. Slow, deliberate, and stately they go about their hunting without acknowledging our human presence.

 

 

 

 

When you get to the observation area, you’ll generally see two groupings of birds. I’m guessing it’s because of sand bars, but I don’t know. Today, northern shovelers were up close and gulls, with a few terns possibly, were a little farther out. Then, past these two groups you’ll see pelicans, herons, and egrets. Straight ahead and to the right the birds tend to be individuals instead of in flocks, at least smaller groups. I didn’t get a good picture, but I was able to tell from the blurs that some black necked stilts were enjoying the day. The picture, based on my research on google images is of a greater sand plover who was running through the shallow surf looking for food. 

 

 

 

 

 

There are a few trails on the other side of the parking area that I usually take, but I was on a short time period today, so I headed home. I stopped at our local grocery store (HEB) and while there in the parking lot, I saw this female grackle wandering around the cars. All I can say is that you gotta love the eyes!

I enjoyed the day so much today that it made up for two off days. I love seeing the beauty and variety in nature. I can’t help but see God’s hand and design in all of these amazing creatures,