Friday, March 23, 2012

A Big Day

Mary went on a bird walk this morning and came back with a long list of birds -- several which I had not seen.  It was my day to watch the dog since she (the dog) gets anxious when separated for any lengthy period.

After lunch, we decided to go for a drive and look for birds so we left for Refugio, a small town about 35 miles away.  Birding at 70 mph on a narrow highway is a challenge but we were seeing hawks (Redtails, Kestrels, perhaps a Rough-legged) when I blasted by a Scissor-tail Flycatcher sitting on a fence.  This was one of the birds we were after.

No one was behind me so I slowed, turned around on the narrow highway, and of course the bird spooked as soon as we approached.  It flew, gracefully, up and then dropped down to a spot further up the fence.  We got some good looks.

We saw several more, slowing each time, and then birded a local park up in Refugio with no success.  Returning, we saw two flycatchers sitting close to one another and slowing the truck, got some photos.  They were very patient and chirping away at us and we left them undisturbed.  Fortunately, the road is little traveled even though those that do use it cruise at 70-80.  
Scissors-tailed Flycatcher, Refugio County, TX

It was a two mile detour to check out a spot on Highway 35 where folks have seen a burrowing owl.  I’ve been by there two or three times with no luck but we decided, in spite of the heavy traffic, to give it a try.  The spot is a large drainage culvert exactly two miles from an intersection so as we approached, I could see the culvert.  We pulled to the side and checked it with binos.  There was a small owl-looking lump on top (She comes up through a crack in the pipe.)  so once traffic cleared, we crawled ahead and shot a couple of photos of her looking at us.  We then left her undisturbed. 

Burrowing Owl alongside Highway 35, Aransas County, TX

It’s interesting -- hundreds of trucks, RV’s, and cars go past that culvert each day, oblivious to the unusual bird watching them.  Of course, she’s tiny and blends into the scenery.  It was a great find -- I never expected to catch her out of her haven.

Returning to Goose Island State Park, I took the Vizsla for a walk and decided to check the feeding station near our site.  Not much activity in the late afternoon but I sat down and right away, a Hooded Warbler -- a handsome male -- began using the bird bath.  Mary had seen the warbler earlier in the day and it was one I was looking for.  Of course, my camera was back at camp but I got a wonderful look at the bird -- and my third life bird of the afternoon.  

We are here in Texas later than normal for us and we are starting to get some early migrants.  Hopefully, a few more will show up in the next week.  Then, some of them, we’ll get to see again in New England later on this Spring.  But not these three.

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