Blinded by the light.
I had the opportunity to visit/trespass on an old caliche quarry today in Jim Hogg Co. I just saw the open gate and ask an old Mexican guy in a pick-up getting mail there if I could go in, noting his license plate just in case. I was looking for something specific and pretty much found it. He just waved me in . I am not sure he understood me. I had hit this location only once before in the dead of winter years ago and it is very remote. A few of the old S. Texas birders like Arvin, Willie or Ben likely know of it. It has the old 1930-early 50's bulldozer rusting away about 1/4 mile in on the "road" which is private on the left. (too bad someone filled that antique with bullet holes) I got there and there was quite a bit of water in various very clear pools but nothing of note on the water in terms of birds. The bare surface of the quarry even after maybe 60+ years of quarrying, still shows little growth in terms of vegetation but there are patches. I drove around a bit then walked. It was very hot down there out of the breeze and other than fast four-legged herps very little movement. That is until I started flushing up Lesser Nighthawks. I flushed perhaps 16-17 in the about 3-4 acres or so but none appeared to be nesting or with eggs yet as far as I could tell. How strange their calls are while still on the ground before being flushed.
By 11:00 it was very hot and very bright in this near pure white situ.. Have you ever read a book in the bright sunlight for 30 minutes and then try to see what was around you after the looking up from the white pages of the book? Multiply that 2X and that is what I was feeling when I got back into the truck...I bet it took 6-7 minutes for my eyes to adjust back to the light inside the truck. But it appears this is where the LENIs want to be....I can not even imagine how hellishy hot it must be 20 ft. down in that quarry in June as it was likely 88-90 this morning before noon. I tried to take photos of some stuff but I could not even see the display on my little camera (which BTW is on it's last leg) to see what I was photographing....There is one sort of yellow flowered plant that seems to thrive down in the pit but while I know it well I do not know it's name. Also in some of the large rain pools that were crystal clear to 3-4 ' deep there were tadpoles in the blue-green water feeding on God only knows what.. I may well be the last birder to see this quarry as I noted that the old highway fence has been bulldozed down recently....Likely in preparation for one of those damn ME-ME 8' foot high game fences. They are strangling this state!
The only other thing of note today was finding a dead badger on JH Co. Rd. 339. I looked in vain for Varied buntings in good habitat but failed to turn up any in Jim Hogg but drove thru Much good habitat for them in the short mesquite drainages. Unfortunately I did not have the time for much piddle birding as I wished....I will say that on some of the back roads I had far more White-tipped Doves calling than I would have expected and Olive Sparrows and Bullock's Orioles were everywhere. Far more than I saw or heard in the Valley. Hooded Orioles aplenty where there was good habitat, but the Audubon's seem to be getting less vocal.....One of these days I hope to just walk, say 2-3 miles of one of my favorite deserted highways in the spring when I have no where else to be. Bet you would like to know that highway right. (wink)
I would like to mention the Border Patrol station on 59 in Webb Co.. There is nearly always a group of 5 Ch. Ravens in that area ....Yesterday they were right where the road graders were parked and fearless. I asked two of the agents if they were there all the time and if they fed them , but they did not have a clue what I was talking about....I mean I could have well just asked them about Elmer's Glue or Uranus ( not Ur Anus)...You know what I mean....They are killing their 3 puny ornamental yucca plants there with dog pee though because that is where they always take them to to their business. I always see dogs peeing on those poor plants when I go thru there. There are tractor tires everywhere better suited, but they have to take them to the only ornamental plants there to do their thing....Lady Bird Johnson would have a fit. An OD of nitro and salt....not needed right next to 160F summer surface asphalt.
Anyway it is late, but it took me a long time to get over that pure white caliche and bright sun. Tomorrow is another day. Do it while you can.