Sunday, 29 April 2012

Birding in Texas

I have returned mosquito bitten and a bit tired from southeast Texas where I spent a week on a birding adventure.  This is only my second visit to the Lone Star state and I have to say that the people are very friendly there (but I am still very glad to live where I do).  I did eventually get used to being addressed as “y’all” and may have even used it a few times myself.

            My friends and I had signed up with high hopes of seeing a lot of warblers, including the Eastern species that never occur in Alberta.  We were a week too late—we did see about 20 species, including some lifers, but not in the vast numbers that we had anticipated.  It seems that migration is a bit weird everywhere this year.  The best new warblers for me were the Kentucky Warbler (a dapper yellow & black bird) and the Swainson’s Warbler (a rather dull coloured skulker that we got excellent views of twice).  Also added Prairie and Pine Warblers to my list.  (The Prairie is pictured below).

            We notched the extremely-endangered Red Cockaded Woodpecker on our very first birding day in Jones State Forest, not too far from Houston.  I couldn’t get my camera trained on those birds, but a Red Headed Woodpecker was a bit more cooperative.

            We were lucky with the Nighthawk family too.  On our morning at Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge, there were Common Nighthawks everywhere.

We also were alerted to a Chuck Will’s Widow on a day roost in one of the sanctuaries in High Island.

  Being a rabbit lover, I was pleased to get to know the charming Swamp Rabbit.

I was also thrilled to see my first Seaside Sparrow singing his little heart out and sounding like a cross between a Red Winged Blackbird and a Savanna Sparrow.
And it is always wonderful to see a Yellow Breasted Chat, especially one as cooperative as this one.
Although we didn’t see buckets of warblers, it was still a very good trip.  I have eaten more fried food in one week than I normally do in six months and walked around until my feet felt melded into my socks!  One of the big pleasures each day was returning to the motel to wash off layers of sunscreen and mosquito repellent.  I’m looking forward to seeing some of these birds again, as they make their way into Alberta in May.

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