Monday, May 17, 2010

Old and New

When I managed to take a few hours' comp time to do some birding, I decided to drive over to the Attwater Prairie Chicken Refuge, some 60 miles west of Houston. My main aim was to look for Northern Bobwhites, birds I have seen only a few times and which I've never been able to get a good photo of. I though, too, that I might get some photos of Dickcissels, another species that I don't often see but that is common at Attwater.

Sure enough, the entrance road was lined with a dozen Dickcissels. However, they either disappeared as soon as I stopped the car or else were perched too far away for good photos. Scissor-tailed Flycatchers were much more obliging.

The entrance road also had a Crested Caracara, another very common bird at this refuge.

On the auto-loop, there were black butterflies everywhere.

Birds were rare except for Mourning Doves, Red-winged Blackbirds, more Caracaras and a beautiful White-tailed Hawk.

And except for Dickcissels. There were scores of them.

I enjoyed watching them ...

and listening to their "dick-dick-dickcissel" songs.

But after 25 minutes I was ready for something different - and preferably a Northern Bobwhite.

Right on cue, a pair hopped out of a
hedge and started walking down the road ahead of me. As soon as I stopped the car, they took fright and disappeared back into the hedge. But not before I got a photo.

Now that my mission was accomplished, I left the refuge and headed back towards Houston. On the way, I stopped to explore Stephen F Austin Park, a site I'd never visited before. I had a pleasant walk along the Cottonwood Trail, which was busy with common birds and lots of butterflies.

A pair of Red-shouldered Hawks flew off before I could get a good look at them. Then a male Cardinal flew up from the path, followed by another bird that I didn't get a look at. I assumed it was probably a female Cardinal but I thought I'd check it out just in case. I'm glad I did. When I located the bird, it was actually a Yellow-billed Cuckoo.

The Bobwhite and Cuckoo took my year list to 206 species.


Birdwoman said...

Lovely pictures, especially the series of the Dickcissel. I've had Yellow-billed Cuckoos in my yard for a couple of weeks now. Such interesting birds.

Jeff said...

I was pleased to see so many Dickcissels - and to hear them singing so much.
I'd be thrilled to get a Cuckoo in our yards but it isn't going to happen!