I know that spring doesn’t officially start for another month, but I’m beginning to see some signs that things are changing. I was out today to do my weekly waterbird count. In December and January, I could expect to count thousands of geese and ducks. We’re more than half way through February now, and those numbers have declined. In my seven count areas, I found only one goose today. There are still some snow and white-fronted geese around, but nothing like two weeks ago.
To me, that means they’ve got hitch itch and spring migration has begun. With all the snow storms still going on up north, I’m not sure how far these wanderers will get, but nature is on the move. The lengthening days have triggered something inside these birds that compels them to seek out their northern nesting grounds. Honestly, I’ve about had enough of winter, so I can rejoice in their leaving. Those of you in the north, be on the lookout for those first robins too!
In a month or so, the neo-tropical migrants will begin arriving after their arduous flight over the gulf from Mexico and Central America. I’m thinking this young merlin will probably stick around and head north with them.
It looks to me like this young fella/gal will make it through its first year and live to a ripe old age. If you look closely at the top of its breast you’ll notice a slight bulge. What that means to me is that it has recently had a successful hunt and its crop is full. Since 80% of birds die in their first year, this is a sign that this bird has mastered the ability to find food. Good to see. This merlin is one of our smaller falcons, and catches small birds on the wing.
Also still hanging around is this young white-tailed hawk. It’s maintained a territory all winter near the intersection of FM 1985 and Pear Orchard Road. I especially like this bird because it’s always willing to pose for me.
I went into the VIS yesterday to get a little refresher on operating the little nature store there. After over five years, the new VIS may actually open in the next month or so. I certainly won’t miss the little shack we’ve been operating out of for so long. The new VIS will command a wonderful view of the refuge from atop posts to keep it out of the way of hurricane water surges. I’ll post some pictures once it’s in operation.
Tomorrow, I think I’ll go into Anahuac to the Wellness Clinic where I did my shoulder physical therapy to sign up for a monthly membership. I’ll let you know how that goes.
Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later, Judy