Saturday, March 19, 2011

Hill Country Trip: Day 3

On Monday morning we rounded off our trip with a visit to Mitchell Lake, just south of San Antonio. We'd wanted to go back there ever since our first visit, in December on our way home from Big Bend.

The Bird Pond was busy with hundreds of American Coots as well as numbers of Gadwalls and Northern Shovelers.

Mixed in among the other ducks were a few Ruddy Ducks, the females looking much drabber than their mates.


One of my target birds for the day was Least Grebe and we saw half-a-dozen.

Moving further into the refuge, we checked out several of the other ponds. The first had a Cinnamon Teal paddling along in front of Blue-Winged Teal. 

A few minutes later, we spotted a small group of Green-winged Teal. That's the first time I've ever seen all three Teal in one area.

In the next pond a solitary Double-crested Cormorant looked out of place perched on some kind of pipe in the company of a hundred White Pelicans.


As we watched, the Pelicans gradually hopped into the water and floated slowly away.


In one case, though, this was preceded by a good bout of bill scratching.

The site had a nice mixture of other birds, including Crested Caracara, Yellow-rumped Warblers, American Pipits and Savannah Sparrows. More exciting was a good look at a Grasshopper Sparrow, a bird I rarely see.

Red-winged Blackbirds were everywhere. Most of the males were showing off their shoulder flashes and singing to attract females.

Most of the females didn't seem to be very impressed!

Back at the entrance, we spent a few minutes outside the visitor center. I was pleased to see several Purple Martins using the martin house there - until Dee pointed out that they were fake birds. Two Black-chinned Hummingbirds chasing each other around the gardens were definitely real, however, as were several White-crowned Sparrows and Brown-headed Cowbirds perched near the feeders.

It was now time for us to hit the road back to Houston after what had turned out to be a very rewarding three days. Luckily, spring break had only just begun and I was hoping to fit in another short trip later in the week, perhaps in conjunction with a drive down to Galveston to see some friends who were staying there. The landscape and birds on the upper Texas coast would certainly be very different from those in the Hill Country.


Birdwoman said...

Beautiful pictures. What a nice assortment of birds.

Jeff said...

Thanks, Birdwoman. It's a site well worth visiting, although mid-winter is probably the best time.