Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Big Bend Trip 5

Monday morning I managed one last walk along the Window Trail before we set off on the journey home. As before, it was empty of birds, except for Cactus Wrens.


On our previous visit the drive from the Chisos Basin to the park exit was notable for a flock of hundreds of Lark Buntings and sparrows. This time we saw just one bird, an American Kestrel.


The Post at Marathon was more productive. The entrance road had Pyrrhuloxias and a flock of Lark Buntings. 

Inside the park itself we were greeted by Black Phoebe, Say's Phoebe, House Finches, Killdeer, Vesper Sparrow and Golden-fronted Woodpeckers.

A solitary Swamp Sparrow pottered around in the reeds.

While we had breakfast we enjoyed watching as several Canyon Towhees explored the area under our car and an American Pipit wandered along the water's edge. Then the peace shattered as a Merlin swooped across from nowhere and only just missed taking the Pipit. The latter's heart must have been beating a thousand times a minute when it settled in a nearby tree to recover from its lucky escape!

From Marathon we drove without any more real stops to Concan, where we spent the night at Neal's Lodges, a prime birding site in the spring and early summer. We arrived too late to do more than a quick walk around the area before night fell, but the walk did add two Hermit Thrushes and two Carolina Wrens to our trip list.

The next morning dawned very foggy, which brought deer right to our front door but thwarted my plan to do some early morning birding.


So we left Concan and headed over to Cook's Slough in Uvalde. The fog was thick there, too, and I again missed seeing one of my target species for the trip, Green Kingfisher. My consolation prize was a distant look at a Ringed Kingfisher and then good views of several Green Jays.

The fog finally burned off at noon, just before we reached Spur 406 at Lake Amistad - but then my camera decided to stop working! So I wasn't able to get photos of two new-for-2010 birds on the lake: Cinnamon Teal and Redhead. I didn't get photos of the two Greater Roadrunners that we saw there, either.

More bad luck was to follow. I had planned for our last stop to be a visit to Mitchell Lake in San Antonio, a site that we had really enjoyed visiting a few weeks earlier. We arrived there with hopes of finishing our trip on a high note, only to find that the nature site is closed on weekdays. I don't know how I hadn't noticed this while researching the trip! 

So our trip ended with a whimper rather than a bang. Still, we had a great time overall and the sheer beauty of Big Bend more than justified all the driving that the trip involved. We certainly won't be able to get back to that area for at least a couple of years but now we're both thinking that a trip to Concan, Uvalde and San Antonio might be just the thing for our first serious birding trip in 2011.


Pam said...

Hey Jeff, hope you've had a good Christmas! The Cactus Wrens are beautiful birds!

Jeff said...

Yes thanks, Pam. It's been good - and quiet. Hope yours went well, too.

mkircus said...

Is that yellow and black bird an Audubon's oriole?

Jeff said...

Hi, mkirkus.
Yes, it's an Audubon's. Sorry I forgot to name it.