Tuesday, 3 January 2017

TEXAS...last knockings

December 18th
Another early start for our drive across the "Metroplex" aka Dallas/Fort Worth. Our destination was Lake Tawakoni..
Image result for lake tawakoni
The target bird was SMITH'S LONGSPUR, which would be an ABA and of course, a Texas tick. I'd tried for this species on it's breeding grounds on the Denali Highway, Alaska in the summer of 2007. The month was August however due to school holidays and the birds had departed. If birds had arrived after yesterdays temperature plunge this was my best bet. Birds had been reported from this site on this date the previous year. My contact couldn't make it due to work commitments, so I was on my own. I found the country road and the relevant field...but there was a problem...
Most of Texas is fenced and that means ...NO TRESPASSING. Quite a dilemma! My only chance...and yet?
I had to let it go...extremely reluctantly. Oh, and it was -2 with a gale force Norther! We headed South to Houston.
December 19th
Still smarting from yesterdays disappointment, things took a turn for the better when I checked eBird in the Motel. A Black Scoter had been reported at a reservoir in east Houston. I joined the rush hour Houston traffic and made my way across this huge City. Quite an experience in itself! I arrived at Highlands Reservoir at 8am. It was still cold but clear. I set my scope up and scanned the water. There weren't many birds on the water...but there was a male BLACK SCOTER!! (463). This bird was a real bonus on the morning of our departure. I drove back to the Motel. We checked out and headed for Bear Creek Park. Last time I was here in March it was under 2 feet of water! Thankfully things were better today and we enjoyed a pleasant couple of hours. The Pileated Woodpecker failed to appear however.
It was now time for my final target bird. I realised this was cutting things fine but I'd convinced Louise we'd get to the airport on time! We parked up by the path to Addick's Reservoir. Louise read her novel in the car and I promised her I'd be back by 6pm. I made my way to the site and I convinced myself I was at the right spot. I concentrated hard until the sunset but alas, I couldn't see an AMERICAN WOODCOCK...

We DID make it to the airport.
So, there we are. Another marvellous visit to my favourite State. I managed to see twelve new species, one of which was an ABA tick.
Eurasian Wigeon
Lewis's Woodpecker
Black-throated Gray Warbler
Anna's Hummingbird
Calliope Hummingbird
Common Merganser
Golden-crowned Kinglet
Chestnut-collared Longspur
Purple Finch
Fox Sparrow
Black Scoter
By my dubious calculations I managed to amass a total of 195 species. Always good to miss a few as it gives me an excuse to return again...

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