This morning I led a bird walk at Pearsall Park for Bexar Audubon Society. I’ve been looking forward to this bird walk for months and was excited to share the park with a bunch of new people. I was hopeful for good birds today to excite the first-time visitors but you never know what you’ll see.
I arrived at the park around 7:30 AM to wait for everyone to arrive. We were expecting a total party of 15 on this walk, the maximum planned for. There was a woman with binoculars on the grass’ edge looking presumably for a bird. I introduced myself and we waited as other birders began to arrive.
Once our full party gathered, I welcomed everyone to the park and rattled through a list of birds we might see, and explained the path we planned to take.
Before embarking, I encouraged the group to scan the trees next to the parking lot to look for a Long-billed Thrasher that we saw the week before. No luck.
We began our slow, slow descent through the fields and toward Leon Creek. The first thing I drew attention to was a patch of trees that often hosts a resident Loggerhead Shrike. One of the birders actually spotted the Shrike diving into the trees in a very ‘Shrike-like’ fashion.
We stopped every dozen or so yards, along the trail whenever anything interesting caught someone’s eye. A handful of Scissor-tailed Flycatchers and Western Kingbirds could be seen on the wires and flying around looking for a meal. Several of the Kingbirds would go aloft and glide slowly through the air using the wind as additional resistance to drift while presumably looking for flies.
Taking a look downhill, all the way to the end of the path, perched atop a dead tree branch was a Crested Caracara. The bird was so far off in the distance, that it looked like a speck even with binoculars. One of us set up a spotting scope and people got a better look at it before it flew off. It’s not too rare of a bird, but it is very regal-looking.
Our group reached the bottom of the hill and took a right, following the walking path that flanks the creek. We saw the usual cast of characters: Cardinals, Carolina Wrens, Chickadees, Brown-headed Cowbirds, Starlings, and others. Some notable birds we saw included Hutton’s Vireo, Purple Martin, a Yellow-billed Cuckoo, and one more surprise…
First up, the Yellow-billed Cuckoo. Its cries could be heard from the path and it clued us into its location. It was a great spotting for the day, so the group was very happy.
As we walk down the path debating on if we should turn back around, my friend Alex is startled as she sees a large bird swoop down from the canopy and land on a branch. The rest of the group notices and it’s confirmed as a Barred Owl. Possibly the very same owl I saw at Pearsall last year! People were crawling and laying on the ground to get a good view of it (worth it).
On our way back to the meeting point, we caught another nice view of a Scissor-tailed Flycatcher.
The group had a lovely time and I felt so happy for them that they got to experience the owl encounter and an overall great morning of birding.