A Year on Clear Lake-Mar 14, 2013

Spring Breaker–March 14, 2013

Look who stopped by today on Spring Break–a Yellow-crowned Night Heron. He’s a nocturnal bird, but obviously isn’t restricted to night activity, as he seems to be  thoroughly enjoying the day’s lovely weather. The Yellow-crowned is a stalker with a taste for crabs and crawfish, but it is also known to chow down on insects, fish, snails, earthworms, snakes and even mammals like small rabbits and birds. The long white plumes at the top of the head are breeding plumage. He can live year-round here along the Gulf, but many live in South and Central America, and migrate this way during the summer to breed. Whether a long-term resident or just passing through, he’s a beautiful and welcomed addition to the lake scene.

He was joined today by the usual cast of characters including the Little Blue Heron–most likely the same guy who a few days earlier displayed tacky behavior with the Ibis. (See story here.)

It’s obvious by the arrival of new bird species each day that the lake is in seasonal transition. Nature is on the move.  As I mentioned when I first began this project, along the coast we don’t get dramatic seasonal changes – no cherry blossoms on the Mall (though our Azalea Trail and bluebonnets might qualify), no brilliant leaf changes in the fall, no winter wonderlands.  Our seasons sneak in with subtle changes. The changing of the “guard”  (birds) is one of the most obvious, along with the sun’s retreat back to the north around the bend.

As mentioned yesterday the hawks are migrating now, and the osprey, as well. The purple martins are in place with new babies on the way, and the little hummers will show up any day, if they haven’t already. My graceful white pelicans will soon vacate the far west portion of the lake not be be seen here again until late October.

Spring is arriving daily.