Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Second Martin Pair

Today, we seem to finally have a second martin pair that have taken up residence in the second of the three gourds with cameras. The male arrived a week ago and has been trying repeatedly to get into a gourd. I think that the Starling Resistant Entry Holes were just a bit too small for him. Every day he tried and every night he slept out on one of the gourd porches.

The female, a likely sub-adult, arrived a bit after the male and went in and out with ease. Though the male had staked out #3, the female wanted #2. For several days, I have been debating whether this was a female or competing male. I could not find any purple feathers on the breast or throat but they fought with each other as I had expected of males. Last two nights, they have been flying and perching together as a bonded pair so ... female it is.

This morning, I got out the Dremel tool and enlarged the opening vertically on gourds #2 and #3 by 1 or 2 millimeters. That seems to have done the trick, though it took until tonight. Here they are on the right in #2. The original pair is to the left in #1 still tending eggs. I think that in total pair #1 produced a clutch of 5 eggs.

Update April 28 - First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes shrubbery in the baby carriage. Two weeks behind the first pair, the #2 gourd pair started bringing green leaves. Again, counter to what I have read, it was the female bring most of today's offerings. They are not at it full steam yet, just a token leaf every few hours.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Snakes and Bikes, Oh My

Special Easter treat on my mountain biking ride today. I got to see a coral snake slithering near the trail.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Purple Martin Season Underway

I set up the martin houses this year with three gourds with cameras and wiring for a fourth. I dug a trench from the house to the martin pole and buried conduit through which to run the CCTV wiring to the cameras.

I opened up a few gourds at the beginning of March and a few lookers but only the House Sparrows made any effort to move in. This year we have even gotten Starlings. Fortunately, the SREH openings are keeping them out.

One April 3, we had the first male go in and stake out a gourd. The same one used last year. I guess it is facing in a desirable direction.

He is an ASY male. Last week, a female made a number of attempts to join him but was not able to squeeze in. Last sunday, video captured a female entering with no problem. Perhaps it is a different one.  She has been flying with him since and they have both been sleeping in the gourd each night.

April 13 - Today, they started bringing in green leaf clipping to line the nest. We should expect eggs soon. No other gourds have been claimed, or visited by martins. Our pair attracts guests to fly overhead in the morning and evening.

April 15 - Today, a furious morning of leaf-gathering activity. This is mostly a female activity as is fluffing out the nest cavity. The male follows her around and occasionally brings in a twig or small leaf.

Nighty night, martins

Update April 20 - Today, video showed the second egg being layed at 7:28AM. Yesterday at the same time was the first egg.

Update April 27 - A total of five eggs were layed in this gourd #1, the last on April 23. A rare moment when all five are visible shown here.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Quick Birding Trip at Goliad

Last weekend, we took a quick long weekend down to the coast. We camped two nights at Goliad SP, about a third of the way down, since there was no spots available on Mustang Island SP. We were not able to get into the more secluded Karankawa loop. Instead, we ended up in the Jacales area which is basically a big asphalt parking lot.

The few days prior to our arrival had seen a flurry of species caught by a north wind. By the time we got there the winds had shifted and sent most of the birds on their way. We saw almost no birds at our usual spots but, we did net a couple of nice ones.

The first was a lone Townsend's Warbler, listed as rare here, and a new species for both of us:

The other was a Purple Galinule. We have only seen one other from a distance.

Back at Goliad SP, we found a colony of Cliff Swallows under one of the bridges in the park. We spent quite some time watching them come and go in waves. We estimated about 200-300 birds in this colony.

Danielle put together a movie of the swallows

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Canyon of Eagles Birding

We tried a stay at the Canyon of Eagles campground to do some birding. The camping spots are very sloped and we had a hard time leveling.

We saw mostly Cardinals and Blue-Gray Gnat-catchers. We did see this Verdin at some distance. Good view of the wing patch.