Thursday, December 04, 2008

Longenbaugh Road

At this time of the year, there's nowhere I like birding more than the section of Longenbaugh Road east of the Katy-Hockley Cut-off. There are always some interesting birds to look at, including a range of raptors and sparrows. So this morning I left for work early and did a quick detour to Longenbaugh on my way to work. I was really hoping to get some new photos of the Pyrrhuloxia and a decent shot of a Harris's Sparrow.

At the Bear Creek bridge, the Pyrrhuloxia was nowhere in sight but there were several White-crowned and Harris's Sparrows and Red-winged Blackbirds, as well as an Inca Dove and an Eastern Phoebe. One of the Harris's allowed me to take a recognizable photo.

A quick drive along the road gave me good views of Red-tailed Hawks, Northern Harriers, American Kestrels, Loggerhead Shrikes and Turkey Vultures. Roadside birds included several Northern Mockingbirds and Savannah Sparrows and a Great Blue Heron. So not a bad list for 10 minutes of birding.

I got a leaving bonus when I reached the westernmost field north of Longenbaugh. It was a swirling mass of Red-winged Blackbirds: I would guesstimate about 5,000 birds. I've only once before seen a huge flock of Red-winged and that was years ago in California. The birds there were foraging on the ground, whereas the ones here were in constant motion and certainly didn't seem to stay on the ground long enough to feed. I noticed that a small plane kept flying over fairly low, and so perhaps it was this that kept the Blackbirds circulating rather than landing.

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