Summer Doldrums

The weather has been great this week in Hutchinson County.  Temperatures have dropped from upper 90s and low 100’s to 70s and 80s and it rained an inch or more over the last week.  Unfortunately we are still at about half our normal precipitation for the year so far.

My first photos from Lake Meredith are from about this time last year.  I had been taking pictures at the feeders in my yard and at the parks in Fritch and Borger.  I had also taken some nice shots of Mississippi Kites at a nature trail down a canyon on the outskirts of Borger, but I hadn’t gone to the lake.  My first trip there was a little disappointing-a mockingbird and that’s about it.  I wasn’t looking in the right places, for one thing, but this is not a great time of year for birding around Lake Meredith.  The passerines have disappeared and the migrations aren’t in full swing yet.  I’ve been watching Blue Grosbeaks, several different types of flycatchers and kingbirds, Red-winged Blackbirds, Common Yellowthroats, Painted Buntings and other songbirds at the lake all summer, but except for the blackbirds and a few Northern Mockingbirds, they’ve vanished from the lake in the past couple of weeks.

So we are in the late summer doldrums, bird-wise, now at the lake.  I’m still seeing the Mississippi Kites around town, lots of them, as a matter of fact. There are scores of finches, a couple of Blue Jays and even a Curve-billed Thrasher at my feeders.  There are lots of Mourning, White-winged, and Collared Doves, Jays and Kingbirds at the parks, but not much at the lake.  I’m not really sure why–I can go 20 miles south to a shallow playa or 60 miles north to a small reservoir and see dozens, if not hundreds of birds.

I still go out to Meredith several times a week.  It’s a beautiful place even with the drought (and because of the drought there aren’t a lot of people,) especially in the morning, and I’m often rewarded with a not-so-common bird sighting.  I can usually count on seeing a dozen or so Great Blue Herons and Killdeer. In the last month I’ve started seeing Great Egrets, Ring-billed and even a few Franklin’s Gulls.  There have been a few Spotted Sandpipers about and on some mornings several dozen (sometimes even as many as a hundred or so) mixed flocks of Mallards, Northern Pintails, Blue-winged Teals and Northern Shovelers, but they are usually too far away to get good photos of.

This morning started slow.  I drove through Spring Canyon without seeing anything at all, and was about to leave when I saw something move across the largest of the ponds.  I walked around there and saw a couple of Green Herons.  I had only seen them a couple of times over the last year, so they are a treat for me.  I got several good photos of them as they fished.

green-heron-39-1280x864

green-heron-34-1280x871

green-heron-49-1280x850Walking back to my truck, I came across this gorgeous Snowy Egret.  This bird is not uncommon but I hadn’t seen one around here in the year that I’ve been birding.  I took photos of one at Rockport last winter, so I was excited to see this one.

snowy-egret-6-1280x879

snowy-egret-7-1280x845Love those yellow feet.

See higher resolutions photos of these and other birds in the galleries.

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