The clocks went back today, buying me just enough time to make a short visit to this well-known local birding location while on a family visit to Dallas. I arrived, keen as mustard, as soon as it got light at 6.50am, only to find the gates aren’t unlocked on Sundays until 7.30am. I filled in the time at the neighboring park, where a Brown Creeper was a useful year list addition.
Arlington Village Creek Drying Beds is a fairly small area of small settling ponds, scrubby woodland and fallow fields, which according to eBird has played host to at least 295 bird species – an impressive total for an inland location of its size. A small hill near the parking area gives good views over the area, and I was soon enjoying the spectacle of large flocks of wintering ducks on the first lake on the right – mainly Gadwall and American Wigeon, with smaller numbers of Northern Shoveler, Northern Pintail, Blue-winged Teal, Mallard and Ruddy Duck. Some Aythya ducks lurked on a deeper adjacent pond – mainly Ring-necked Ducks but also several Redheads including two drakes. This was only my second personal record of the latter species, the first one being in the Western Palearctic – the long-staying wintering drake at Kenfig Pool in Wales in 2005. It was good to finally see this bird in its natural range.
I’m still getting to grips with the multitude of New World sparrows, and with my field guide at the ready I clinched the ID of several Lincoln’s Sparrows in the grassland, and a lone Song Sparrow in scrub along the lakeshore. American sparrows are an appealing bird family, strongly reminiscent of the Old World buntings, which I spent many enjoyable hours tracking down in winter in South Korea.
Another nice surprise today was a flock of 15-20 Western Meadowlarks. Having seen Eastern Meadowlark at Anahuac recently, it was interesting to compare these birds, which appeared much paler and more “washed out”. This species is regularly recorded at this site, which from the field guide appears to be at the edge of its usual range. I’m still at the stage of North American birding where I can reasonably expect a lifer on every outing, so it was good to get on the score sheet with this one today.
Lifer: Western Meadowlark (total 2,020).
2015 Year Ticks: Redhead, American Wigeon, Song Sparrow, Lincoln’s Sparrow, Eastern Bluebird, House Finch, Brown Creeper (total 1,013).