After the birding doldrums of August, I longed for a change in the wind and the early signs of fall songbird migration. I ventured out on September 6th to Frisco Commons to see what I could find. I would find Baltimore Orioles, Blue-Gray Gnatcatchers, White-Eyed Vireos, and Great Crested Flycatchers. The latter three possibly having bred in the park or county.
However, the highlight of the visit was what I saw first. As I made my way from the parking lot toward the pond at first light, I noticed four raptor silhouettes in a distant tree. As I got nearer, I was able to see they were Mississippi Kites. They are a common site to see around the area during the summer but I had never seen four at this location. As the path turned toward the pond, I saw another, an immature! Then another and another. By the time I counted them all, eleven Mississippi Kites were around the pond! Who needs songbirds when you have raptors?
All were engaged in their morning preening routine and awaiting the thermals. This afforded some intimate observations for over the next hour and subsequent visits. During this observation I wondered how many of them have been in the area all summer, and how many had been further north? A week previously, I counted over a dozen in Sherman on my failed Swallow-Tailed Kite expedition.
In the spring, a group of us saw our first kites of the year arrive over Bob Woodruff Park. Now I was seeing them group up to leave.
One of my favorite observations was watching an immature move about and awkwardly land on the smallest possible limb and struggle with its balance for a moment. This one also spent a fair amount of time observing me from above.
Another was when an adult made an opportunistic quick flight from its perch to grab a dragonfly flying above my head. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. The bug activity around the pond was a perfect spot for migration fuel.
Watching bird behavior is my favorite thing to do. I spent over an hour standing in the same area observing the kites preen their features. They must be kept in great shape for the journey ahead. The aforementioned immature joined two adults to preen in the same tree. My favorite gesture to capture is of them using their talons on their head feathers. It makes for a memeable photo.
The family that preens together, stays together.
On my return visits it came down to two remaining kites (or possibly two different ones) who were in the same trees each morning for the last three-day period.
I last recorded them on September 14th. See you next year.