Sunday, January 03, 2010

Quiet on the Prairie

Dee and I did a couple of
hours birding on the Katy Prairie yesterday morning and it was surprisingly quiet. The trip started well when a Northern Harrier stayed perched on a hedge along Porter Road End while I took photos ...

until another car spooked him.

Correction: As I will clarify in my next post, the "Harrier" was actually a White-tailed Hawk!

Longenbaugh had its usual
complement of Loggerhead Shrikes, American Kestrels and Eastern Meadolarks, as well as a couple of Eastern Phoebes.

Eastern Phoebe

However, perhaps because we didn't arrive until 10:30, sparrows were few and far between. The habitat in the immediate area of the Bear Creek bridge has been significantly degraded and held only a handful of Savannah and Field Sparrows, while the eastern section of the road had a couple of Vesper Sparrows.

Field Sparrow

We were pleased to see our first Eas
tern Bluebird for quite a while.

Eastern Bluebird

White-winged Doves seem not to have moved into this area in numbers yet and so Mourning Doves were everywhere.

Paul Rushing / Chain of Lakes Park looked beautiful in the late morning sun but it was surprisingly quiet for birds, except for Savannah Sparrows.

The lakes were empty except for three Pied-billed Grebes, a dozen Canvasbacks and a solitary Great Egret.

every other visit I have made to the park, I have been subject to constant complaints from Killdeer. On this morning, we saw exactly two Killdeer, and they didn't appear until the end of our hour's walk, when we also came across a small group of Red-winged Blackbirds. Just across the road, a Northern Harrier was quartering the ground, scaring up several Meadowlarks.

We did a little better when we walked back to the car, as the grass between the cricket pitches and the baseball ground was being picked over by a small flock of Horned Larks, always a beautiful sigh
t and one that you can usually count on seeing here.

The drive back to Cypress produced a few Black and Turkey Vultures - and lots of Red-tailed Hawks. (We saw more than twenty of the latter during the course of the morning.)

Year List

My year list started with 16 species on January 1st. The Katy Prairie trip added another 20 species.



sharon said...

Do you bribe the birds to get them to stay positioned on wires & trees for you to take good shots! How else would they stay still long enough?! :-) Great photos, especially the Northern Harrier.

Birdwoman said...

Katy Prairie is my next goal for a birding day trip. Itching to get there soon, and your pictures just inflame the itch!

John said...

The rusty patches on the last photo of the "harrier" make me think it might be a White-tailed Hawk (see here for comparisons, especially this one.)

White-tailed Hawk would be a much nicer find. : )

Jeff said...

Thanks, John. You're right! It was a White-tailed Hawk.

LOL, Sharon. What I really need is for the birds to pose AND tell me their names. Then I wouldn't mis-ID a White-tailed Hawk as a Northern Harrier!

I love the Longenbaugh area, Birdwoman - even when it's quiet.