On my way home from work last week, I stopped in a sports complex parking lot to take a peak at the Monk (AKA Quaker) Parakeet colony where these beautiful birds were busily building and reinforcing the colony nests that look like condominiums. They are busy, very busy right now preparing to procreate their species. They are noisy, messy and fun to watch. And appropriately a group of parakeets is known as a “chatter” of parakeets.
A recent trip to my sister’s home in Burton Texas rewarded me with some beautiful flowers bursting into bloom as Spring arrives in full force.
A short stop at LadyBird Lake found a few year round and some winter residents.
Opportunities to enjoy Spring rituals abound. Turn off the cell phone, take a deep breath, go for a walk, become aware of all the wonders that Mother Nature provides for our enjoyment if we only pay attention. And just like Spring which is a renewal, you will begin to fill invigorated by the beauty that surrounds us all in our ordinary lives.
There are many year round residents that abide on the shores of Lady Bird Lake (AKA Town Lake) and then there are the seasonal visitors passing through on their migration journeys. It is always fun to use the spotting scope from my balcony to see just who is up and fishing early in the morning or trying to catch their supper before heading to the roost for the night. Many times a walk around the lake trails will yield closer views of some of the year round residents. I can always find some species that thrill me along the way.
The Lady Bird Lake shoreline is almost always bustling with people…hikers, bikers, fast walkers, joggers, families with children in strollers, or senior citizens taking their morning constitutional. People watching is a sport right up there with bird watching. But the birds interest me the most and I find it amazing that they can co-exist in an urban environment in such close proximity to humans. Here they successfully build nests hidden in reeds or leafy tree limbs, manage to raise their young to continue the new generations that will grow up on these shores and perhaps seek their own territory near where they were hatched or move on to a different area…seeking mates and ensuring survival of their specific species. So here are a few of the locals that I have captured while walking the trails and boardwalk. Enjoy!!!
The male cardinal is always a favorite and is easily spotted and identified by his rich scarlet color, black mask and chin, heavy red-orange beak and distinctive crest on his head. They have a unique way of moving over the ground by hopping. They are primarily seed eaters.
Another secretive resident of Lady Bird Lake is the Yellow-Crowned Night Heron. They are solitary birds and contrary to their name they may also be out and about during the day. I found this guy hunting for his breakfast in the shadows of the trees on the edge of the lake.
And of course, on every walk it is possible to view the beautiful Snowy Egrets. They are permanent residents on Lady Bird Lake. In breeding season, he has gorgeous plumes and at one time these beautiful birds were almost hunted to extinction because of the demand for their decorative feathers for women’s hats. Fortunately they are now protected by law. They are smaller than the Great Egrets and are easily identified by their bright yellow feet, sometimes called “golden slippers”.A group of egrets is sometimes referred to as a “congregation”, “skewer” or “wedge” of egrets.
So come on down to Lady Bird Lake and see what birds you can spot while walking the trails and boardwalk. It is always a rewarding experience!
The City of Austin is lucky to have a wonderful addition to its urban water resources called Town Lake which not too long ago was renamed Lady Bird Lake. The trail along this lake was recently enhanced with the addition of the Boardwalk. Walking around the lake using the trails and boardwalk opens up a whole new world of nature and birding opportunities. Each season presents a different picturesque landscape. The beauty of it all can be breathtaking. Check it out!!!
There is much flora and fauna along the way and I never tire of walking the trails and Boardwalk to see what new wonders might be there. On one occasion from my balcony, I observed several dozen snowy egrets flying in at dusk to land in a particular tree on the south shore near Joe’s Crab Shack. I was intrigued but did not travel to investigate. The next evening when I witnessed the same thing happening, I jumped in my car, drove to Joe’s Crab Shack and rushed down the Boardwalk to see what was happening. For a reason unknown to me, for three or four days these birds had chosen this tree for their nighttime roosting site. My camera was clicking away capturing that moment.
Every bush, tree, shoreline nook and cranny might have a bird stealthily hunting their next meal. A plant of yesterdays walk may have burst into bloom overnight. An unusual bird visitor may have stopped by for a visit. Or a yellow Lab may be enjoying a swim playing a game of water fetch.
It is always entertaining and a beautiful bird, leaf, flower or unexpected diversion may appear at any moment to give us lasting memories of a delightful walk on a beautiful trail in a magnificent diverse city. Enjoy Austin!
What is BFB? Birding from Balcony is another of my favorite ways to find enjoyment in birding.
I live on the 10th floor of a building that overlooks Town Lake (AKA Lady Bird Lake) and each morning presents another opportunity to use my spotting scope to check out which birding friends and visitors might be perching, wading or swimming on the lake. The year round residents are Great Blue Herons, Great Egrets, Snowy Egrets, Mallards, Green Herons, Ospreys, Kingfishers and a plethora of others. And most recently, the cormorants and bufflehead ducks have returned.
But this morning i stepped onto the balcony with my spotting scope and witnessed a truly uplifting sight. There were a few strange birds on the water. They floated and paddled. Their plumage was red, shiny and filled with beauty. But what should appear before my eyes but three small flat boats decked with tinsel. And low and behold I spied at least three Santas taking a day off from their toy workshops to do a little fishing. A Christmas tree adorned one on the aft part of the boat and a plastic Santa stood watch on another. I ran for my camera to capture the moment. And I and my friend Linda stood pondering with wonder and amazement at how three fishermen decided to take the time to decorate their boats and themselves before getting up early on a crisp winter morning to go forth and bring a smile to the faces of anyone who was fortunate enough to observe these three kings.
What a gift! We smiled, we laughed and we posted those photos on Facebook so others might experience our special moment. To those hardy fishermen….I thank you for having such pure spirits and sharing the true meaning of Christmas…giving to others and filling their hearts with joy and wonderment. I am blessed to have witnessed it.