Friday, April 16, 2010

Update to April 16 post

   Wrote the last blog too soon.  Within 30 minutes as I was out watering a car with 4 people pulled up to the park and walked toward the beach with bins.   They were all on a Piping Plover before I reached them.   They had no clue about the Lesser Black-backed Gull so I showed it to them just down the beach.  What a gorgeous bird it is now as an adult in high alternate..We also watched Least Terns and a Wilson's Plover.
  I then told them of the birds in town and of some mulberry trees.  We went down to Mrs. Echols tree where the best mulberries in town are and ate mulberries until our hands were purple.  One lady, perhaps in her early 70's was just beside herself saying that she had not tasted a mulberry since she was 12-13 years old and just finding this tree and tasting the berries was the highlight of her trip.
  We had good looks at Scarlet and Summer Tanagers, Orioles, Blue Grosbeaks and Indigo Buntings but the strong winds kept us from seeing many of the smaller migrants in the trees.  The folks had to leave to soon due to a previous commitment in Victoria.  They were dressed as normal people :-)   They might be back tomorrow but I told them every day and every hour in the spring in Port O'Connor is a different one.

  One of the old guys worked at Bell Helicopter in Ft. Worth back in the late 60's-70's and seems to recall my father who also worked there.  When I told him dad drove a Nash Ambassador, he was sure he remembered, at least the car.   He was not positive however on remembering dad. Can you believe it has been 40 years since the Beatles broke up as a band!?   Gawd am I getting old.


Stone Sheephead, Starling Hunts, Birders, and Fallout detection.

   Well except for a few hours of data entry, I had the morning off so got up mighty early to see what was fetching.   The tides were high and there was a strong east wind so shore birding was a bust.   Walked down toward Harry Pond's place and found this new display.  A limestone Sheephead (a type of fish).  Something obviously picked up in the Hill Country and I think the eye was painted in but still pretty cool.

  Damn Starlings are trying to over-take the Martin colony this year and despite my best efforts they continue to try to take over.  In fact I found a female Martin with 2 eggs that had been killed by Starlings as they trapped her in a gourd.  If you think that a starling will not kill an adult martin over a nest site your are more than dead wrong...Your crazy!  So I began shooting the Starlings.   I hate shooting any living thing but Starlings really piss me off.   So for now I am 11 for 17 shots and likely nicked one or two more that probably now know better than to return.  And this is in just 3 days!   For some reason one particular gourd holds the most interest of all for the Starlings that show up.  I can not figure the reason for that out even though I have torn out all the contents twice..   Starlings are actually quite beautiful birds when in high alternate plumage but their aggressive behavior makes them one of the worst introduced exotic pests to the US.

   There is a TOS convention in Rockport and I feel somewhat guilty for not being involved in it but I have my reasons for not doing so.   Today I noticed a number of birders in town.  I spoke with none of them though there was a fairly good fallout of migrants.  I noticed several cars loaded with birders slowly driving the front beach , I assume for the pristine adult Lesser Black-backed Gull in all it's glory.   But never did a single car roll down a window or get out to see the bird so all but one young couple just drove right by it without even slowing down.  I know they were looking as they were scanning the bay with many bins.  I did see the young couple stop and as a result of that I did go out to show them the bird and they alone were the only birders I met..  They barely had time to study it, before a neighbor with a new puppy hit the beach and scared off all the birds.   But still they saw it well and were quite pleased as it was a lifer for both..

  Later I went to the PO and to the Speedy Stop (only store in town) .  I walked into the store and within 2 seconds realized that birders were in there.  There must be a gene in some of the birding population that forces birders and butterfliers to exhibit what I would call "Dorkism" traits.  There were at least 5 birders, whom I did not know or recognize.  They were dressed in the typical goofy ABA type vests, flop hats and multi-pocketed garments.  One older fellow had his pants tucked into his white socks.....Uhhh.  The rest had bins strapped multiple times to their bodies with all forms of security straps.  One guy had a camera that must have been 4' long.....Then there were the bird pouches, vests and patches. OMG!
  That fallout came as a short bout of rain fell around noon-1:00PM.   I do not have to walk two-three steps out of the door to know if there are birds in town or not.  Key indicators are a very sudden increase in activity at the Hockey's hummingbird feeders and more than a single migrant in their fruiting mulberry.  If it is good in this yard it is wonderful back a few blocks.  And so it was with many an Indigo Bunting, Oriole, Tanager in the good areas and the occasional birder(s) walking the streets there.  Some I even knew by face but not name.   The ones on foot were the smart ones, IE those that were walking for they saw lots of birds.  The other "Birders" I saw crawling around the streets in cars/trucks with windows rolled up at less than 3 mph probably saw nothing and considered Port O'Connor a complete waste of time.  I long ago gave up on those types.

  I did not feel like birding socially in the least today, but since I have most of my rats (and Starlings) kilt today, I might strike out early to meet a few folks in town as more rain is predicted and tomorrow could be a good day.  Plus I have no real serious work tomorrow.  But early morning is also prime Starling popping time so there is a hard choice there.