By Carolyn Henderson
Birds where everywhere Sunday at Wilson-Ledbetter Park. I came upon a few out of the ordinary species while walking the park to contribute to the GTWT Adopt-A-Loop project with the Texas Nature Trackers/Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and iNaturalist.
Normally, flora is abundant in that park, but most things were wilted, or dried up and gone, which is primarily due to the lack of rain in August and September and mowing. I heard on the local weather report that September has been a record dry month here in Central Texas. There were a few butterflies, but they were sparse, too, probably because there are very few nectar-producing plants right now. But the birds showed up.
There were domestic mallards that I would called mottled, mallards, mallards x muscovy cross, black-bellied Whistling Ducks (juvenile), and pekin ducks. The ducks appear to be intermingling.
There were green herons, great blue herons (which kept stealing fish from the green heron), and a great egret. Watching the Great Egret fly over the pond was beautiful – until it landed (see top photos). It was comically ungraceful when it landed in a large patch of floating primrose-willow.
There were also domestic geese that have been living in the wild there for a very long time. The geese and most ducks were amazingly indifferent to humans standing amid them. All of the pictured birds have been verified for research grade on iNat except the Geese and Mallard x Muscovy, the latter of which was the suggestion by iNat.
Usually sparrows, mockingbirds, and grackles are there, but I did not see them Sunday.
If you’re a bird watcher or just want to earn some volunteer hours, it’s an interesting place to spend a little time. If you don’t yet use iNat and want to, they are having at least three programs on the use of the program at the annual meeting next month. You can attend virtually if you aren’t going in person.