Saturday, December 24, 2011

Trusty Cottontail

Feeding birds is rewarding and throughout the woods I scatter seed for the shyer of them. At night numerous other animals come to these locations to glean what the birds left behind. With the use of remote cam recorders, I've noted an odd relationship with mice and Cottontail Rabbits. Perhaps it is nothing I discovered, but something new to me.
In the photo above, taken with black LEDs , there is the obvious rabbit with the smaller mouse in the bottom right hand corner. Although the mice will feed independentlly of the company of the rabbits, they will also feed directly beside them, showing no fear at all. They will not do this with any other woodland mammal here ,including Fox Squirrels, nor will they feed at dusk with the smallest of passerine birds. I am not sure how they know to trust the rabbits except by instinct. Can the presence of rabbits help in providing safety from predators such as owls by means of a keener early warning system?
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Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Comments Recieved Regarding Africanized Bee Encounters in Texas

   Here are sample comments on various encounters with the Africanized Honey Bee or hybrids in Texas.  I have lightly edited some of the comments to remove personal information and to take out irrelevant material.  I did not include discussions and parts of discussion.  Merely the comments.  I also included the counties where the comments were based if known.  I apologize  for not getting all comments in, but will consider adding more if they arrive

A couple of years ago, I had an encounter with bees one Saturday morning while cutting  scrub trees along the river. I bumped a tree containing a swarm of bees. I  vacated the bobcat tractor and outran all but about fifty of the bees.  If they had been the killer bees, I am convinced they would have done just that to me. I insist on having an enclosed vehicle near when working tree areas . They scare the hell out of me !!

Refugio Co.

I've run into colonies in walls of abandoned buildings, furniture in abandoned
buildings, and badly deteriorated rock gateways.  It is incredible, to me, how
much more aggressive they are than the bees in my backyard. Once, as a
test, I drove very slowly away from an attacking colony ... they continued
buzzing the car for well over a half mile.  They also seem to be much more
easily irritated.  I regularly walk within feet of the - I presume - European
Bee colony using the water feature in my back yard (in fact, I will add water to
the feature while they are using it) with no trouble.  I have to do one point on
one of my breeding bird survey routes from within my car (a strictly visual
count) as opening doors will bring a colony up from an abandoned tornado shelter
about thirty feet away.

To make things really entertaining, I am allergic to bee and wasp stings.  These
guys just plain scare the crap out of me - I would rather have to move a
five-foot diamondback by hand than be within range of a colony of aggressive

Lubbock Co.

Mr.  Freeman:
 In 2___ our son passed away.  After about a year and vandals, we went to his mobile home to prepare it for removal from the property.  It was a very hot September day and there was no electricity in the house.  We started to clean out the kitchen drawers and cabinets and were quickly swamped by bees that had made a nest behind and around the dishwasher.    Before I could reach the front door, I had been stung by these bees more than 60 times.  My wife outside was stung too .  We had to get in the truck to get away from them. [ ]…...  We got rid of them [bees] later by putting four bug bombs in the kitchen very carefully.  A broken window is how they got in but it was so hot in there it was hard to think how they could survive it.  They had made nests with honey in some but after the poison vapor we did not think it was safe to eat.  We threw it out on the drive then other bees found it and before long there was another swarm  outside….[ ]
Live Oak Co.

[ ] My mother , now deceased,  was almost killed by these bees in 1992 when she pulled a hoe or a maybe shovel  from under her porch where she kept them.  I think she was stung over 100 times .  She was 77 at the time. [ ]
Lavaca Co.

I chiefly do wildlife photography which of course leads me into bird imaging. On a S Texas ranch, I was examining a small abandoned home provided for ranch workers. I was looking for Black Widows. I eased into the kitchen and became aware of the bee hive. This is about as scared as I have ever been in the wild. I slid out of there without incident but my knees were quaking.
S. Texas

I had fun with bees on my back porch when I tried to install the little yellow bee guards on a hummingbird feeder that had some bees moving in. The bees objected violently and I ducked inside with only a couple of bees. The ones at the feeder called up friends and started to dive bomb the glass door. They could see me easily wearing a red tee shirt and did not let up. Sounded like a sleet storm. It would have been a disaster if I had not been just feet from the door.

When I moved here long ago there were several large hives hanging over the bayou without hives, just very large honeycombs. They vanished over several years and storms. According to the pest control people there has been a reduction in killer genes here in houston recently and they now remove bees from walls etc rather than immediately gassing them but they have to be careful.

We had a swarm go by at the Neotropic sanctuary this may coming from the beach that ignored us even though they passed by within a few feet in mid may this year that had none that acted badly.

Harris Co.
I have a very large oak tree on the far end of my lots and I was building a tree house the other day at about 15 feet above the ground.  While I was up in the tree, my dog was messing around below.  She would do lots of yelping and jumping through bushes.  I thought she was just excited because I was up the tree.  After a couple of minutes I start having flies buzzing around my face.  Started paying attention to them, I realized they were bees and they were really getting after my dog and me up 15 ft in a tree.  I got out of the tree as fast as I cound and I ran about 100 yards before I got away from them falling twice in the process.  Thick clothes protected most of me, but I can see how somebody could die from their attack.
Victoria Co.

Re:  bees - a co-worker was stung by bees from a colony in a water meter or similar structure at work.  Her car was parked next to it, and she disturbed them by getting out of her car.  Fortunately she suffered relatively few stings. 

 ......We took in a few horses for a friend  two years ago as we no longer had any of our own , just the sheds and corrals.  Within an hour of them arriving we noticed the horses were acting crazy and wild.  My hubby and I went out to look and could see they were being invaded by swarms of bees ….[ ] …. Hubby wrapped a blanket around him and ran to open the corral gate so the horses could run out to pasture.  He was stung several times and bees chased him all the way back to the house.  There is no way to know how many times the horses were stung […] the hive was  in a wooden gravity feeder and it was destroyed but the horses would not come near the shed again in the 5 months they were here [ ]….
Hill  Co.

It certainly will help me--and, I should imagine, many others--to keep in mind the kinds of situations where nests of killer bees may exist.  They can be easy to forget, and they are not often attention grabbers! For example, a dead/dying tree can look so innocent! And, as in your case, these dangerous situations can be hidden.
[ ]… when we burned a big pile of dead trees and brush last year there was a cloud of bees that came out .  No one was stung but there were millions of bees flying in the air …[ ]
Kimble Co.

  …[ ] the man that takes care of our  yard was attacked by a swarm of bees in May when he was weed eating along the side of our house.  He was stung all over and was chased by the bees to his truck parked down the block…[ ]..I was not home at the time but he said he had about 40 stings…the hive was under our deck …[ ]
San Antonio

Brush:  I am a heavy equipment operator and owner.  Bees are one of the major safety issues we are trained to be aware of.  I have had several  unpleasant encounters with them and you are correct about the dangers.  I am 41 and physically fit.  Someone less fit and maybe older would have been in extreme danger in some of these cases …[]…fire extinguishers  do work to an extent if that is the only option available but only temporarily .
Hays Co.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Silent Rattlesnakes

   Dear all:  These replies are in response to a query on what seems to be a common perception that rattlesnakes are evolving or de-evolving due to the increase of the feral hog.  The thought among many ranchers and outdoors enthusiasts is that the snakes that rattle soon become hog chow while those that don't go undetected.  I have been told this on several occasions  by landowners, mainly in an effort to warm me of the "greater danger" a silent snake can pose.

  Anyway here are some of the many responses to that query.

Dear Brush,

It's been more than 25 years since I was told this by my graduate advisor,
Harry Greene, then at UC Berkeley and now at Cornell.  Harry is, among
several major interests in reptile ecology, a student of the feeding biology
of pit vipers.  He told me about the differences in behavior of western
rattlesnakes, Crotalus viridis, in the East Bay hills.  Animals living in
Berkeley (I was surprised to learn that numbers of these rattlesnakes lived
in the city!) were retiring creatures that rarely rattled or threatened in
any way, while snakes living on the east side of the hills were more typical
in that they reacted to the proximity of dogs and people, etc., with
assuming a strike posture and rattling.  Snakes taken from these sources
retained their different behavior in the lab, and I think they bred true-
but I am less sure of that breeding experiment, my memory being something
less than once it was.  The distance between these source populations was
something less than twenty miles.

Harry was regularly asked to relocate rattlers found on campus and in the
city.  I believe it was his policy to pick them up in daylight and return
them to their place of capture after dark some time!

My take on this is that rattlesnakes that call attention to themselves
amongst numbers of people cannot be expected to survive long enough to leave
many descendents.
Wouldn't that be an evolutionary modification, taking hundreds or thousands
of generations, with constant pressure needed throughout the process?
Sounds sort of like the folks who figure that Ivory-billed Woodpeckers have
in recent years become fraidy-cats, so that we can't get good looks
at them. Good story-telling stuff, but I dunno.
Greetings Brush:

I have seen twenty-seven rattlesnakes so far this year - as I am close to deaf
in one ear I almost always see them before I hear them and am glad that I am old
enough not to worry about my own gene pool issues - HAH!   All of them rattled
as I moved closer ... and my area is thick with wild pigs.  It would be a tricky
study to do - as we don't really have any, well-documented before data but this
topic has been bandied about by some of my herpetologist buddies.

Rattlesnakes. Interesting story - I have been told the same by some, shall I
say "rural", coworkers. During my years of fieldwork on the Callahan Divide,
Stockton Plateau, Concho Valley, south Texas, etc., where rattlers are
plentiful, very few have rattled upon coming across them. Growing up, I was
a snake nut, and we commonly encountered rattlesnakes when looking for
kingsnakes, corn snakes, etc. Very few rattled, unless provoked. I rarely,
if ever, "harass" snakes. The only times that I have seen rattlers "buzz" is
when they are prodded or have rocks thrown at them, etc. I have literally
stepped on them without them rattling. Perhaps it's the weather, I don't
know. I have always wondered if most people upon discovering a rattler,
either out of fear or curiosity, incite the snakes to rattle. Whereas,
myself and others of that strange ilk, just give space and pass on by.

Dr. Gad Perry brought the rattlesnake subject up in a class a year ago. I don't know how well documented the non-rattling occurrence is, but it seems as though most herpetologists agree that it is indeed going on. I do not believe that hogs have as much to do with it as people do. With the general hatred towards snakes, people are more likely to kill the ones that they see. If a rattlesnake rattles, it is more likely to be seen. That is what I believe the train of thought is. The huge rattlesnake round-ups certainly don't help.

Dear Brush:   Thanks for bringing that up.  We have both hogs and rattlesnakes galore and have noticed that the snakes just do not rattle like they did when we were younger.  Sometimes they do but at night is when they are most active and we often do not hear the ones the dogs find rattle at all..  It is a dangerous time to be out without a flashlight around here.[ ] .We depend on our dogs.  They do a very good job of finding them.   We really hate to kill any of them but if they decide they want to stay around the house or sheds we don't have much choice. []  We think there is some truth to the theory, I have heard a lot of neighbors say the same thing you are asking about.


Brush:  [].  If the gypsy moths can adapt , why can’t snakes?

Well, between Abilene and Sweetwater there are rattlesnakes that have evolved not to rattle.   Not much to do about hogs.  More about generations-worth of "Roundup" Festivals.  This "a good snake is a dead snake" - mindset is a sad legacy of Homo sapien sapien.  That first book in that Bronze Age desert-religious compilation of books never helped either I suppose.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Utley Birding June 16, 2011

A beautiful warm morning with temperatures only down to 79 at 6:20 . I was eager to get out and about. Still quite a bit of bird song.  Walked a couple of miles of road (?) and enjoyed the exercise and the birds. Also visited with a friend here in Utley and then birded their property spotting an adult Swainson's Hawk. Late or breeding? I have no idea but a good find  for the date regardless.

Another surprise this morning was that of a White-breasted Nuthatch...A pretty rare bird in Bastrop Co. at any time of year but something that was completely off my radar for mid-June. It was north of Wilbarger Creek on Lower Elgin Road near that wooded bottom.

  Coral Snakes seem to be more common than usual despite the drought or because of it.  Not sure what is going on with that but they are easy to hear in the dry leaf litter.  Had a big one this morning cross the road as I was walking.  It escaped being run over by a large truck only by a matter of inches.

  All in all a wonderful morning.

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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Mid-June 2011 Starr County, Texas

I spent four days in the Upper Rio Grande Valley, birding and vacationing in a county I needed to know better. June is a prime month for this as the motels are dirt cheap and mostly empty. The drought here is horrific but farmers somehow have managed to get in a crop of milo and black oil seed despite there being no rain since last October! The weather is perfect especially in the mornings. The birds are very active as is other wildlife up until around 11:30A. I do not think the temperatures have got much above 102F.  I typically am in the field from the first hint of dawn until noon or 1:00P, then again in the late evening.

There were numerous surprises for me including a pair of nesting American Kestrels. Rare thing here. As well as two nests of Swainson's Hawks.

I really enjoyed the Horned Larks out in the milo fields and elsewhere. Spent a fair amount of time with them. They behave so different than the birds I am most used to directly on the coast and in the large ag. fields slightly inland there. These birds were loud and musical, easier to see, appeared overall darker and most importantly they perched often on the seed heads of milo!  Even singing from them!   Sometimes I could see several at a time doing this. This behavior is something I never see in the same type of fields near the coast. Birds there just hit the dirt and run, they are paler as well.

Just check out how healthy this milo is given it received no rain. It is about ready to be harvested. Indeed the black oil seed was being combined while I was there. It too did very well.
 The next shot is just of a view of the majority of the habitat I was in under a nice soft dawn light

  One of the big surprises for me was finding standing water in an old gravel pit. It was the only water I found except that in water troughs and small ponds being supplied by a well. This gravel pit pond was no more than about 50 feet across but it had one of the best birds of the trip. This female Ringed Kingfisher (above), was away from the Rio Grande River (~30+ miles)....It seemed very out of place. I would have expected a Green Kingfisher in this situ...There she was at this tiny speck of water in the middle of the desert. Likely the only place she could find that had fish, and it had a few small fish as I saw her catch one.

When full of water this quarry makes quite a lake and at it's deepest point it is ~31 feet deep per the rancher. When the kingfisher and I were there it may have had only 2 feet remaining.

Blue Grosbeaks were abundant and could be heard at nearly every stop. I had far too many species to list but Common Ground-Doves were like grasshoppers. They were everywhere and I may have seen upwards of 500+, Likewise Ash-throated and Brown-crested Flycatchers seemed to be everywhere. Hundreds of N. Bobwhites were seen or heard as well a few Scaled Quail but none of them had any chicks and it was reported to me that they just did not breed or are waiting for rain to do so.
Another bird that I was surprised to see so many of were Groove-billed Anis.
 They were scattered everywhere and if they were not seen, the mockingbirds make sure one does  not forget they were present.

There were a couple of species that I am not sure I have ever seen in the county, but perhaps have.  One of those was the Northern Beardless-Tyrannulet ...A tiny thing I heard it sing for a long time before I could spot it in a mesquite across a fence. It was also the first one that I have seen in a couple of years.

In the early cool hours, a few Tarantulas are seen out roaming about. This really big guy was on a mission and did not pause for better photos

The remaining photos are of good old S. Texas ranch land under the stress of drought. Such water spots as pictured are critical in droughts like this one.

Lastly yesterday afternoon a huge fire started burning north of my motel in Rio Grande City. It continued into the night turning the smoke orange and burning away for hours. It was under control by the time I got up early this morning.

Additional photos below

Monday, June 6, 2011

June 5, 2011 ...Thirsty birds

At 102,6 degrees F yesterday afternoon a lot of critters made it in for splish and splash. So many photos but here are a few select ones. Thirteen species of birds were captured at this water location only. Unfortunately the batteries went out I guess on the other water features, but I know by watching those picked up another 3 species including Common Ground-Doves and N. Parulas

If the strange bicolored bill on the young crow remains , it will provide a very useful mark as I watch the crows. If it should survive. Already it is quite tame, learning from it's parents that there is water and other goodies to be had here including cardinal chicks.

The Red-shouldered Hawk made several visits to this pan though there are larger ones elsewhere. This is nothing more than a plugged hot water heater spill pan which is available at any hardware store.

The Roadrunner is just looking goofy for no known reason.

Can't beat the bird baths for entertainment when there ain't no other water to be had.

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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Utley Cabin, Screech Owls and young, Warblers etc.

This evening I studied a family of Eastern Screech Owls present on the property making for me , a new discovery. A call I had long attributed to young recently fledged birds is actually that of an adult, in this case a red morph, searching for  scattered young. In the top photo there is a gray morph , then two different young which though out of the nest, are still not capable of sustained flight and finally the female red morph.

The red morph repeatedly gave a series of 3, sometimes 4, low call notes that I had long attributed to another call made by juv. birds. As you will see in the attached it is is the adult that makes this particular call. It is however not dissimilar to that of young which are a bit older. This is the call of an adult seeking it's young. This short video that the two chicks was made when two young in sight and were responding by trying to move closer despite harassment by a few small passerines.

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Sunday, April 17, 2011

Scorpion Sting, a Southern Mexico Folk Remedy (updated)

  While my home is under going a remodeling project, I am very fortunate to have a crew of hard working fellows from Chiapas doing the bulk of the work.
  Where I live in Utley, Texas the common Bark or Striped Scorpion is everywhere in dry weather.  I get stung often during the year...Not fun.

  It so happens that while I was "helping" the crew with some boards and trash I was stung on the inside of the thumb by a medium sized scorpion, a male I think as it was long and thin.  When I got stung, immediately "Skinny" and friend began looking thru the leaves and elsewhere for it fairly frantically but it had escaped.  They said that was to bad cause it had the "medicine" in it to make it stop hurting.  Well the sting throbbed for maybe 2-3 hours as usual then the rest of the day just sort of ached with that sort of strange over-all feeling you get when stung by one of these animals the day after.

 By golly the very next morning as we were moving some lumber, I was nailed again right in the center of the palm by a huge female.  This time it really hurt, and I knew this was gonna be a bad sting but Sergio was able to find and smash the large potent female.  Quickly and within a minute he ask to show me where the sting went in and I did and he promptly pressed the smashed scorpion body onto that location releasing as much of it's body fluids as possible, actually sort of forcefully rubbing those in.   Then he said "It will be OK" and that we "got it".....30-40 minutes later I could not tell I had ever been stung there, while I could still feel the sting slightly from the previous day...I asked him how he knew this and he said something to the effect that "everyone where he comes from knows this"...He says he is a Mayan.   Incredible stuff I never knew. Say what you will but, it worked for me!

  Later in June while moving some left over lumber I was once again stun in the palm and finding the culprit immediate smashed it and pressed it's juices into the sting location as hard as possible , basically reducing the animal's body into paste.  Within 15 minutes I could hardly tell I had been stung .   After this sting I decided it was for sure good medicine.  I have since saved a few fresh individuals in the freezer for future encounter where I may be unable to locate the scorpion after a sting.  As shown above, they are just in a sandwich bag .   Sort of insurance as I do not take kindly to these stings and this place swarms with scorpions.  NOTE:  According to the guys, it is critical that this remedy be accomplished as soon as possible for it to be of value,  before the venom spreads.   Wait too long and this remedy will not work.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The value of old Woodpecker cavities

This cavity in a telephone pole near my home in Utley, Texas is about 20 years old. In that time it has hosted breeding Red-bellied Woodpeckers, Eastern Bluebirds, Great Crested Flycatchers and the hybrid form of Tufted X Black-crested Titmouse called Dixon's Titmouse. This year the titmice once again have rented it after last year's Bluebirds, which seemed to have suffered a nest failure.

I have once seen a Texas Rat Snake half in and half out of the cavity. They can climb anything they can get a grip on.

Such holes are extremely important to your local cavity nesters and I highly encourage you to safeguard them. Consider them an asset. This hole is almost big enough now to host a roosting Screech Owl.
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Monday, February 28, 2011

Myrtle Warbler at Clark's Oyster House

There was a Myrtle Warbler, named Chip, that spent a cold winter month in a little mulberry tree behind a building where oysters were processed in Port O'Connor, Texas.  There were big piles of oyster shells on the east side of the building but Chip like the west side where the noon and afternoon sun was warm and out of the winter winds.  Chip was not like the town Myrtles in that he never raced around chasing flies and bugs nor did he fly with the flocks there.   Chip kept his secret well and stayed with his mulberry tree.  He was much different in behavior that the other Myrtles and the longer he stayed in his little tree the wiser and wiser, fatter and fatter he became, for just on the other side of the oyster shed there were those huge piles of oyster shells that a conveyor belt brought out.  The grackle and turnstone people came to the piles to glean the scraps of meat from the shells and so did the flies.  Chip never bothered to associate with the likes of those birds but instead knew that by just sitting tight in his little mulberry the very best of the best chow would come his way.  And indeed it did, for once the flies and bees were filled with oyster nectar they flew over the building to rest out of the wind in the bur clover, sow thistle and on the sun warmed walls, sleepy and full.  As they grew drowsy in the warm sun,  in windless conditions, Chip could pluck them from the walls or the weeds as easy as picking ripe grapes off the vine as tasty snacks.  Chip then would then too feel full and sleepy and then just sit for long periods in his little mulberry tree, sometimes not moving at all.  Just soaking up the sun's warmth..  He could watch all the other birds struggle to find chow but he just stayed in his little tree and grew wiser and wiser.  The pelican and gull people came and went so did the heron, egret and shorebird folks, the grackles and blackbirds and all of the birds of winter he could see from his little mulberry tree.  He had to go no where for food, nor did he have to go scramble for food with the silly restless town Myrtles that by then had been reduced to eating Tallow seed or scrambling for midges in the budding ash.  Chip had been on the gravy train for weeks and he knew it. When the fogs of the night came, there was fresh water for him on concrete foundations of the old ice house.   I have never seen a Myrtle Warbler as smart as Chip

Thursday, February 24, 2011

An Interesting Ash-throated Flycatcher Nest.

The nest shown here is reported by Lori Markoff as that of a Ash-throated Flycatcher, which was constructed in an artificial plastic Purple Martin gourd on her property ~13 miles south of Rock Springs, Edwards County, Texas in 2010.
When Lori was cleaning the gourds for the this season, 2011, she recovered the nest which she graciously sent to me for a look see and then transfer to Dr. Kieth Arnold and the Texas co-operative Wildlife collection at Texas A&M in college Station.

Though somewhat in disarray and jostled during shipment this nest still is of interest in that it is constructed entirely of hair with numerous snail shells inserted by the flycatchers...The wood chips were not brought in by the birds and can probably be picked out. The placement of  conifer (pine or fir) chips into martin housing is a very common and even encouraged practice by colony landlords in part to make the nest gourds more attractive to potential nesters and also as a substrate on the bottom for warmth for those very early early scouts during very cold weather.
I made no effort to remove them.

The animal fur is primarily that of deer, and opossum, the later likely a nearby carcass given many of the hairs are clumped with dried skin fragments attached at the base. The remainder of the identifiable hair appears to be of dog/coyote, cattle, feral hog and
perhaps rabbit and/or other unidentifiables  at least for me.

There are the various dried dropping left by perhaps pre-fledged juv.s or later roosting birds...Perhaps the nest was used as a roost cavity later in the species
. What is odd is the number of upland snail shells that were mixed into the dense hair nest structure as shown here in part.

These were obviously long emptied and bleached shells, many broken, and it is a big mystery to me as to why these shells were used unless they are somehow related to the mating/mate attraction process.

I have in the past tried to extract a complete nest thru the "nest hole" of this species with no good success. This is the first ATFL nest I have ever seen that was built entirely of animal fur (no feathers even). All previous nests contained vegetation, feathers, even portions of reptile skins, albeit with a large portion of hair as well.

I should know the snail species but can not keep those names in my memory
and do know know that it is a significant matter anyway. Thanks again to Lori for providing me/us with a very interesting insight into Ash-throated biology.
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Saturday, February 12, 2011

Sawtooth Pin (Atrina serrata)

After a week of miserable winds and cold temperatures , I was finally able to enjoy a warmer and sunnier day out on the mud and sea grass flats the winter tides had left behind here in Port O'Connor.
Even as I was out on the mucky surface the tides were rushing out.

Sea life left behind was sparse but the birds were plentiful, including a Red Knot, an unlikely visitor to mudflats. As seen below the Reddish Egrets are coming into their own and were fishing the shallows for very tiny fry. Evidence of Raccoon people was everywhere as they fed on the dead fish washed ashore by the recent arctic blasts. They prefer "Speckled Trout" but I followed tracks to several hardhead catfish where the animals tended to eat only the belly and entrails.

My best find was this Sawtooth Pin (Atrina Serrata) not that they are very rare but this is perhaps the largest individual I have ever found, coming in at just shy of 10 inches. These mollusks are listed as being occasional by McAlister (1993) in the Matagorda Island area but are however washed in by the hundreds on the surf beaches when there are major storms where they are light enough to reach the upper tide perimeters.  The interior of the shells is a blaze of iridescent if the rather fragile shells are found before abrasive sands have taken their tolls.  Below that brown exterior is a rainbow of color.

What is rather strange about these and related bivalves, is that they use their adductor muscles to actually bend the shell closed whereas most bivalves use the muscles at the hinge of the shells to close up.

I have always found these animals to be very difficult to find as live specimens in the bays. For me this one is a brute. Made my day.

Here are also a couple of Reddish Egret photos.
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Sunday, January 2, 2011

Red-breasted Sapsucker (daggetti) Ottine, Gonzales Co. Texas, 12/29/10

Update:  Feb. 4, 2011:  This animal was deemed to be a hybrid and removed from circulation by me on behalf of the Texas Bird Records Committee based on comments of those more experienced than I.  As a hybrid it would not be added to the state record or anything else as far as I know.  Some allowed they thought if it was was a hybrid, it had mostly  RBSA genes, others contend it is a clean bird.  I don't have a clue and reckon it is not that important.  Still it was a very handsome bird whatever it was...and the photos are here for your use and enjoyment......B


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