Those huge flocks of six to seven thousand geese are now gone for another year. It’s no matter that there are still snow storms going on up north, as the birds follow their own inner time table. To them, it’s spring and they’re compelled to head north for the breeding season, just as I’ll be migrating north in another month (but not to breed, of course).
Locally, the willets are beginning to pair up, and I heard their first love songs this morning as Lynn and I did the weekly waterbird surveys. We’re getting pretty good as a team. We started out with her just recording what I saw. We’ve progressed to sharing the spotting duties, and she has streamlined the recording procedure. I feel very confident that she could carry on the surveys next year if I don’t return to Anahuac. There are few things more satisfying to me than passing on the bird study torch to someone willing and able to hone their skills.
As the season progresses, we’re seeing no geese, less and less ducks, and more and more shorebirds. We had more than 750 dowitchers in just one of the study plots this morning. This photo is just a small part of all the dowitchers that were there. With them all resting and taking a siesta, it’s a little easier to estimate their numbers. Of course, we have to count the black-necked stilts and northern shovelers that are mixed in as well.
After doing four of the survey sites, we decided again this week to take our lunch down at the end of the road to Frozen Point. It was a nice warm day, so we could enjoy a true tailgate meal while we watched the brown pelicans fishing for lunch in Galveston Bay. That was until a cow came galloping down the middle of the road. It had somehow gotten out of the fenced marsh and was frantic to find its way back to the rest of the herd. That herd of cows began following her along as she checked out the locked gate and trotted along the barbwire fence. It was interesting to see how she would rub up against each section of barbwire checking for an opening. She eventually turned around, headed back the way she came, and found the opening where she initially got through. The whole herd appeared relieved that she had returned. The rancher was notified, and I’m sure that fence will be fixed in short order before they all get loose. Two of the strands of barbwire had rusted through leaving a large gap.
On our way back to finish the last three sites, I spotted something out of the corner of my eye, and backed up the truck. Two yellow-crowned night herons were skulking around in the reeds. These are the first I’ve seen this year.
As I tried to get closer, Lynn snapped this shot of me. Of course I’ve got my camera plastered to my face.
One of them eventually flew off a short way down the ditch. It posed for both of us, and I appreciated seeing its reddish knobby knees,big toes, and bright red eyes.
Lynn had seen a hooded warbler two days ago, so after finishing the survey sites, we headed for Jackson’s woodlot to see if any neo-tropic early migrants might be about.
There were lots of yellow-rumped warblers flitting about, but they’ve been here all winter. I did see a beautiful northern parula taking a bath in a puddle, but it didn’t hang around long enough for a picture. We’re getting some south winds again, so maybe some more little birds will fly in over night. I hope so.
Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later, Judy