Thursday, March 4, 2010

Last winter birding visit to Williamson/Bell Co.

I went to Elgin early this morn to go to the feed store but on a sudden whim decided to make a quick run up to Bell Co. again as I just could not get those cattle feeders out of my mind from my visit there a few days back. Man what a difference a few days make, things are changing so fast. but the cattle feeders were still oozing crushed corn and there were still tons of birds around them.

Before I get to that, I will mention that a stop at the dam and Friendship Park produced two Bonaparte's Gulls and that same darn loon. I tried real hard to make the gulls into something else but could not manage. There was a distant flock of Redheads. The loon was in a mirror calm cove preening so intently it took me a while to be 100% it was a Common. In a long south to north stream on the surface of the water there was a long line of small breast feathers etc. it had plucked from it's body. Just slowly drifting away.

I wonder if the birds pull the feathers because they can feel they need to be pulled, as in itching, or if they just go thru and sample each feather for it's individual adhesive strength? I mean is there any discomfort that drives them to preen so vigorously?

There was a flock of 31 Sandhill Cranes on 360 just north of 971 that took off and headed north as I drove by.

Now for the goods. I went back to that same cattle feeder oozing the corn on the corner of 360 and 363 and while there were far fewer cowbirds there were tons of others. I parked down the road and took the scope getting very close studied the birds in grand fashion. % Chestnut-collared Longspurs were still in the area! Two males in near if not perfect 100% alternate plumage. I am not sure I have ever seen them in such grandeur in Texas ever. Simply gorgeous things that were not in the least overly timid or shy. Both meadowlarks were here too and both sang....Fantastic close-up comparisons. The Brewer's Blackbirds were just stunning and then there were the zillions of Sparrows, 95% Savannahs but also Vesper and least a few. I sure wish I had known of this feeder back in January as already many things are leaving. Just in the last 10-12 days most of the Kestrels and Western Meadowlarks have booked it. After 30-40 minutes here I drove the Alligator Loop finding nothing of note and then to the Mega Field where there was also nothing of note.

However I turned off on 353 to those corn feeders and was in luck again!! Boy were there birds and more birds. The very first one on the corner with 352 had at least 22 of the most perfect Common Grackles one you imagine. They were just jewels. Lots of sparrows and meadowlarks but nothing new. Further down the road I hit the rest of the feeders and really lucked out. 3 McCown's Longspurs with a male in full alternate as best as I could tell, and 2 Lark Buntings, both males which were rapidly approaching alternate, all sharing in the same grain spillage. I poured through zillions of Brewer's and Brown-headeds looking for something like a Shiny Cowbird but no go there. Other wise the birds here were much the same as at the other feeders. Not far down the road from there were 2 Common Ground-doves near the house. Some of the ponds had wigeons but most were devoid of ducks.

Tractors were tilling and planting and I watched a few for a bit as I had birds following tractors down in Jim Wells Co. the other day. There was one tractor with a planter just east of Granger that had plovers behind it but they were so far out I could not make them out in the heat waves.

A short stop at Mary's Lake in Granger produced 2 Wood Ducks, 1 Song Sparrow and a BAWW but nothing else of note. By now I was out of time....I had squandered away the morning.

Returning to the house I had Sandhills flyover and still do. A pair of Pine Warblers remain which is getting very late as they are usually long gone by now. Surely my neighbor's 4 surviving pines are not enough to give them cause to take up territory? I can only hope so. Ok that is it. Got 'Maters to plant now. I had some pictures to post here for you but every time I tried it just locked up everything. Still learning this Blog stuff.

BTW....When I went off of all the lists I told David I that I thought that was where all the spam was coming from. He did not really think so, but I can promise this. I am am not on a single list now and I have not had but 2-3 spam notes now in almost 3 weeks, whereas I was getting sometimes 20+ a day when I was on the various lists.....Just FYI.

Have a good day.


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