Monday, June 06, 2011

Katy Prairie

Extreme weather conditions are pose huge problems for farmers and ranchers but they can be good for birders because they lead to birds moving to areas where they are not usually seen. This is currently the case in Texas. Last week, while people involved in agriculture were praying for an end to the extreme drought that has gripped the state for months, birders were heading to the Katy Prairie to see the Cassin's Sparrows that were turning up everywhere.

As Cassin's Sparrow would be a new life bird for me, I left home early on Wednesday to give myself time to visit Porter Road End, where several of the birds had been sighted the previous day. I stopped near where another local birder, Frank Farese, was already parked. Frank immediately pointed to where some of the sparrows were displaying in the large field to the west of the road. Although the birds were too far away for photographs, we were able to see and hear them as they kept flying up into the air and then dropping back down again, singing as they descended.

A few minutes later a pair of the Cassin's briefly appeared close to the road and I was able to grab a couple of record shots.

The noise of my camera startled a Scissor-tailed Flycatcher than had been perching on a nearby fence.

I was too slow to get a photo of a pair of Northern Bobwhite which scuttled across the road and disappeared into the long grass. Although I have often seen Bobwhites at the Attwater refuge, these were the first I had ever seen in Harris County. So I was pleased when, a little later, a male Bobwhite gave me good looks as he strutted along near my car.


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