Saturday, February 27, 2010

Webberville...It's over....

.....winter that is. Folks from Ohio or Vermont can just head on back home now. Spring is here, winter is done with. Little Webberville Park had not one but two Northern Parulas this morning. One singing it's entrails out in a budding American elm, so it is a done deal! Took photos of another one in a bunch of vines and if you are good at looking thru photos or like jig-saw puzzles, for tiny images of probably blury, tiny objects, I Can send them to you as I know the bird is in the photos....Just can not be bothered with it.

I'll bet 1.50 that GCWA and BAWWs are already back too.!! I even bet one will be reported on Chit-chat today or tomorrow!

At Big Webberville Park there was a male Hairy Woodpecker as noisey as it could be hammering on a dead hackberry and calling on occasion. I KNOW this bird will not breed in Travis Co. and can not even figure why it is not already in the pines so late in the year. If i am wrong and you can photographically prove (sorry but that seems to be an absolute MUST these days, I tried to get one of a House Finch but it got away). I will buy you a gallon of Borden's Fresh Churned Buttermilk if you can find it.....Just let me know if you want me to send them.!

Bluebirds were also nest building in one old snag in the park and in earnest. My titmice have been at it for a while now. A pair of Red-shouldered Hawks were back at their nest site this morning.

Everything is spring, I watched a Carolina Wren carry load after load of nesting materials into one of the plastic lined garbage barrels at Big Webberville Park this morning, until I finally went to see where he was doing that construction. Ane there it was, a near completed nest inside a Tecate 12 pack beer carton!....Mean old me, I took it out, tore it up and threw the nest away then tore up the at any moment the parks guys would coming to dump all the barrels out anyway. So for the wren it was just a wasted effort, especially if eggs were laid in there soon..the barrels are always emptied before or during the weekend crowds.

Two male Spotted Towhees still grace my feeders as does a Brown Thrasher. Otherwise after about 9:40AM I had to give this birding stuff up and quit such piddling. A lovely day but birding and piddling just does not pay the bills....Darn it. There are cans to stomp and rats to kill.

I sat out in the yard until around 7:40 last night but heard only barking dogs. I had also burned off the yard yesterday so it was not likely attractive to, too many night critters. maybe more later if something crops up......Hmmm cropping up......Oh never mind for now.


Thursday, February 25, 2010

Bell, Williamson and Some Miliam Co. Birding

I met with Jim Giocomo, who does fills the slot for the Coordinator of the Oaks and Prairies Joint Venture this morning to pass on some materials I had been holding. It was still early enough to bird a bit though I usually quit birding around 1:00 or so.
Looked around Holland, dead as a hammer with the only highlight being 5 Rusty Blackbirds with some gorgeous Brewer's at the far end of E. Travis....Could not cough up anything else in that area.
I bird my way around by handheld GPS which I forgot so nothing got marked and I don't recall road numbers well. A flock of Longspurs were off of Round House Rd. with quite a few Horned larks. There was just the usual stuff including a BUOW and all I could think of was getting to a coffee place. Something that looked like a PYRR did come off the road going south....Something with school, in the name.
I was travelling south on a road when I hit good old familiar 360! Right there on the corner was a cattle feeder so loaded with birds people would have paid money to be there. Seemed they had just fed that morning and there was grain on the muddy ground so I started pouring through the jillions of cowbirds when I found a Chestnut-collared Longspur in almost complete alternate!
Set up my crappy little window scope so I would not scare everything offf and just as I got that done an asshole in a welding truck came roaring by at mach 2 scaring everything up in the air so it took a long time for things to settle down!. Most of the good stuff was out on the edge of the flocks where the grasses started bu there was plenty in the middle of the jillions of cowbirds about this?

Wilson Snipe 1 (?)
Pine Warbler 1 .....Yes indeed feeding right there with the rest of them
Vesper, Savannah, white-crowned, FIELD (4), DARK-EYED JUNCO 3
CHESTNUT-COLLARED LONGSPURS 28-20, MCCOWNS LONGSPURS 7-10 and what I am 90% positive were several Laplands further out, but I could just make them out due mostly due to heat waves.....Red-winged Blackbirds and Brewer's everywhere (Though I saw no Rustys) and some of the Common grackles and meadowlarks had to be seen to be believed with such perfect sun on them. what a great stop!

Friendship park sucked as usual, a couple of white Pelicans, a few common gulls, a spotted sandpiper, though i did see several nice harris's sparrows. A drive over the dam produced only a molting Common Loon and he usual.

went back around to where Willis creek crossed the creek and walked the woods a about 20m minutes....highlights, Song sparrow, Blue-headed Vireo and a SINGING Winter Wren. Otherwise dead as a brick...No woodcock.

I quit birding after that, made no effort to look for MOPLs as that is too close to being on the job:-

Bought a fig tree to plant....Now I need to burn off the meadow/yard before the wind picks up. behind due this year.


Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Towhees and Long-eared-Owl People.

Worn out today. Spread a load of oyster shell through some pot holes on the road but did not bring nearly enough up with me. Fellow even told me so. Then took the off off the old chicken sheds as there is a wire ceiling, so I reckon I will grow my tomatoes in there this summer...should be plenty of light. Then took a nap. As I was lying on the couch, noticed titmice carrying nest materials into a bluebird box I had put up....Oh well, sure wanted bluebirds but maybe next year. At dusk I wrapped up and waited to see if any woodcocks were still around. Did not notice or hear a one AMROs also headed north at dusk.
I was about to go in when a very large bird flying much like a Pauraque or a Chuck came zig-zagging up the road followed by another a few seconds later!!. They were flying right over the ground into the yard where I quickly lost one in the dark cedars. However the other bird landed just over the bird bath where I could barely make it out..... Slowly I raised my bins and got a bit of extra light captured just enough to see it was a LEOW. Figured it would come down to bath or drink but it did not. The other hidden bird flew down for something in the yard and the one at the bath chased after it off to the west not to return, at least while I was out there..........Am positive on ID as I get Barreds, Screechs, and Horneds constantly....Junk birds here. I stood out in the yard perhaps 8 more minutes and heard two soft....sort of "oooooo" notes, The best thing I guests I could relate that sound to is a White-tipped Dove tho I know that seems likely goofy.........It got too dark to see ekse and I was tired and cold so gave it up. Sorry no photos tonight, just to tuckered get another day or two off again as soon as a key comes in the mail. Bummer.

Seems a bit on the late side for these owls but do recall an April record.

Brush in Utley for now.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Geese left quick.

I had to do the whole doctor thing in Victoria early this norning. It was not so bad but it just ate up a lot of time up and needles make me dizzy at 7AM ...It is 55.4 miles from Port O'Connor to the place where I started thre morning, through many fine rice and grain fields. Did not see a goose of any species for the first time this year. Last year my last geese flyovers on the coast were on the 24th over on the Traylor Ranch.....How quickly they just get up and go. I did see a few small groups of Sandhills, and I am sure there are a few flocks of geese scattered around on the delta, just not up in the upland fields anymore.

I made a run on up to Utley afterwards which I was was so much looking forward to despite the nasty forecast. It has been a month since I could get up here.....On one of the back roads I took near Whitng , I spotted a single Snow Goose in a pasture with a game wing. Poor thing........To be grounded and then for it to have to hear all it's breathern passing over in the night surely must be a discouraging thing.... I suspect it will not last long before a coyote finds it.
Heck as far as that goes in Lavaca Co., on all those many, many ponds, there were very few puddle ducks remaining at all. Even most of those have now left though a few Gadwalls and Ring-neckeds remained on a couple.

The cheery bird of note this morning was a nice bright Yellow-throated Warbler chipping away in the oaks in the parking lot at the medical offices there on Medical Drive in Victoria, but I did not have my bin's with me to get the best looks of it.....But boy where the White-winged Doves going to town everywhere....Grackles were pretty happy too..

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Mr. Red Pouch.

And in case you have not noticed, the red pouched Brown Pelicans are coming into their own already and fast .....Things are heating up ....Of 26 adult birds noted, 5 that had at least some red coming in already though I suspect this trait is becoming increasingly shared between the two morphs (?). Maybe soon a bird with a completely red pouch will be hard to find....Or does this color hold true from one generation to the next between the two forms? For the newbies, I guess I state that the red-pouched form of Brown Pelican is not native to Atlantic or Gulf of Mexico waters, coming instead from the west coast years ago...Too much history thereto get into but you can read up on it elsewhere.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

On the Oyster shells

Your looking at a scene that will soon be history in Port O'Connor as the rich take over all the water front property and the poor man can not make a dime at real work.

Here is a pile of oystershell outside of Clark's Seafood packing house. Not active today, but when it is, there are birds all over it. Oystering has been slow going this year and gets slower by the year with all the imports, fuel, labor costs etc. Especially bad this year due to the influx of fresh (unclean/silty) water into the baysafter the drought. And most oysters that are being dredged are from San Antonio Bay instead of Matagorda!
Were the guys shucking today, the shell would be rolling off the conveyor steadily and the grackles, gulls, willets and turnstones, especially the turnstones would be all over this pile seeking nuggets of oyster flesh. One day I stopped here and counted no fewer than 61 Ruddy Turnstones working the pile! And for the very briefest of moments once I thought I had a Black Turnstone pop up and over the top of the pile still in its darker winter plumage that was a bit darker than normal. Oh man! Would a Black Turnstone have made Texas birding history or what!. Yep, these are the places I bird. Not the fancy pants birding parks like Bentsen or Smith Woods. Just the old stinky fish docks and muck holes. Something will show up someday. Heck a lot of times this is where I find California Gulls.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Night Action Feb. 17, 2010

For various reasons my internal clocks have been reset, my sleep is off and I find the nights quiet and shorter. At 1:19A this morning I just got up as though it had been 9:00A. Made some Green Tea. Guess gray cat scratching in the litter box woke me......Outside it was a bit cool for there to be much at the banana bait stations, but the skunk that had so well plastered the back deck yesterday evening was still in the yard and I could just barely make it out as it waddled off to the salt cedars in Joe's yard as soon as it was aware I was out there. The place still reeks of it from last night.
Too cold to be really comfortable but I did put on a couple of shirts and walked down to the fishing pier where some Latino fellows were trying to pull anything they could from a baitless water that was slicker than glass....I did not walk down to the end to ask about any luck they may or may not have had. But not even the glasspacs or anchovies were moving the water's surface....I bet the guys could not have pulled in even a Sheepshead this morning, especially as the tide was slack and the water is so fresh from all the rains.....You could tell they were pot lickers anyway as they were using big chunks frozen squid from what I could tell through my bins......Maybe they were going for Blackfin... Thought about visiting Punch to see who had come to pay respects didn't bring a lamp to walk the beach.
Everything at this time of night is about sound. Mostly none....Not a car heard or seen in over an hour but the surf out in the gulf still sounds exactly like interstate traffic at rush hour.... While it is to cold for frogs or insects, there is plenty of bird movement. A startling squall of a Great Blue Heron, taking off from the little rock berm....I just know it left an unseen but significant "rope",... Black Skimmers working the still waters invisibly, a pair of Horned Owls dueting back and forth well back in town, likely with chicks in the nest somewhere......For sure there is no shortage of Roof Rats in the palms to feed them. A single Barn Owl was heard over across the ICWW and a couple of Short-billed Dowitchers on the flats....Other than that, just the blinking green and red channel markers with their attendant Brown Pelicans and a single noisy early morning crew boat heading out to a rig in the gulf leaving behind the only wake the bay has seen this morning as it was passing through the jetties. Neighbor Suzy and Steve are heading out 19 miles today to load up on snapper and if we are lucky maybe they will give us one or two if their luck is good. We will head out later in the morning to catch one of the rare nice days we have seen this winter. Too bad the Laddman can't make it, but he'd likely rather be in a boat anyway. I think it will be too nice of a day for that today for me. Spring is coming fast....The ash and mulberry trees are budding and the water roaches are showing up eveywhere. More later.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Punch and Coffee...Dead on the beach

Here are the remains of our newly found friend, Punch, who floated ashore some night a week or so ago. She was a big old girl. I mean she really was old. Had a good life of many years, no doubt, eating tasty Sand and Speckled Trout and just rocking with the pod. Party time likely ended for her though with this last big cold spell that dropped the bay waters' temperature so low. Did I mention she was old? Her teeth were so worn down she was likely having to make a go of it off Moon Jellies. She had no major scars or injuries that I found but I was really not much in the mood to roll 'er over. I put the coffee cup next to her as sort of a size comparison and it was good coffee, but I guess after the picture I just sort of did not want it anymore and left it as an honor to her long (40-50 year) life.

Oh yeah, the Turkey Vultures are all worked up and can't wait for the aging process to kick in but that is slow going with dead dolphins....real slow. Just no good starting places. But the troupe sails in several times a day to check in. What's real strange is that all the gulls are freaked out by Punch. The Laughing Gulls especially. They won't even come close. A few Herring Gulls perhaps but that is about it. After this carcass ripens a few days I am gonna check her out after dark though the water is way too cold for the crab people.

This is the third dolphin that has washed into Port O'Connor waters since Christmas. Perhaps due to the cold weather, but who really knows?

Feb. 14, 2010 Aransas NWR

Birded at Aransas NWR this morning with Petra Hockey. A gorgeous morning. We had a huge flock of mixed plovers just outside of Austwell that had at least some Mountain Plovers. In the refuge itself we got the spectacular male Townsend's Warbler along with a Horned Grebe and many other nice birds. At the boat ramp on hwy. 35 we found waterthrushes and an Ovenbird. Since this is my very first blog post many of you might be curious as to what I look like. I was a bit younger then and was still wearing contacts but I have not really changed that much in recent years.....I hope to be able to improve my posts here in the future with your help.