Two Sundays in a row, I woke up before dawn.
The first Sunday morning heralded the day before the beginning of school for E (Kid #2) and also the end of a small vacation. We were out of town at the beginning, and visiting with my parents at our house the rest of the time. I needed a break from the break. I needed to see something green.
I always attempt self improvement, sometimes it works better than others. One of my more recent efforts involves becoming physically fit by riding my bicycle to work. Because of the vacation, I haven't been riding to work, but I have done a lot of walking, hiking, swimming with the kids, and other stuff to maintain what I've accomplished. On Sunday morning, the bicycle called to me.
"Go to Holloway Park," it said. "You'll gain blog material."
Hey it worked! I had fun riding there because the exercise I have been getting made the trip quick and easy. That increases the chances I'll keep getting up early on Sundays to do this trip. I also managed to see a few birds, 23 species to be exact, including some (like Laughing Gull) I hadn't seen at Holloway park in a while.
Sky was overcast, temps still warm. The dawn was gorgeous. First order of business was to ride my back down the dirt road to the area where people park who want to do the running trails. Looking over the grass fields for Killdeer and Eastern Meadowlarks, I only managed to spot various Grackles, and the Ospreys on their nests over on the ball field lights to the north of the park. No Killdeer, no Meadowlarks. I did spot one nice looking American Kestrel, and some Black-Bellied Whistling Ducks going to roost. After rechecking the birds around Lake Ann, I parked the bike against the fence and locked it up. Holloway has a "no bikes on the trails" policy, and I respect that.
Walking the trails revealed nothing highly unusual. There were higher than normal numbers of Blue-gray Gnatcatchers about, and that was about the only sign of migration I saw. There was a late seasoned Great Crested Flycatcher there that came out while I was pishing at the local Tufted Titmice. I hopped on the bike at about 5 to 9am, soaked in sweat and dew, and mashed pedals back home, happy to see birds, and to pedal my way there and back.
The next week I repeated, only instead of going out into the field first, I parked, and walked the trails first, the first thing I saw heading into the park was an Eastern Bluebird. I glanced briefly at the pond, confirmed it was still there, then beat feet. There's a couple of places at Holloway that I'm convinced are magical. I think that the next time I'm there, there will be some heavy activity. There's the Poplar tree that I saw a mimid trifecta in a while back (Brown thrasher, Northern Mockingbird, and Gray Catbird all eating the same thing from the same tree!), and there's also the line of cypress trees that seem to offer so much at the right time. This time, there was still very little sign of migration. The weather was just too clear I think. Gnatcatchers and a Northern Parula were all that was there to scratch the listing itch. The bird watcher in me though noticed a change on the local birds. They were looking very frazzled. The Tufted Titmice were missing tail feathers, and mockingbirds all were very gray and worn looking. Cardinal tails could barely be called tails, and the Boat-Tailed Grackles could barely be called that. Soon they'll be full on no tail grackles.
I took the trip around the parking area on bike, still no Eastern Meadowlarks, no shrikes, couldn't even scare up a Killdeer. That day, I did see Barn Swallows for the first time at Holloway. That's one of those birds that's been on my list of "I ought to be seeing these here, and I haven't yet". So are Chimney Swifts. Soon they'll be gone south I suppose.
I mashed pedals hard on the way home, burning off energy and stoking the thirst to keep up this trend.
We'll see how it goes tomorrow.