Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Attwater National Wildlife Refuge

Sunday morning was warm but extremely windy at Attwater and so conditions were far from ideal for birding. However, even though we saw comparatively few species, we both enjoyed the prairie landscape and the birds that we did manage to see.

As always at Attwater, Crested Caracaras appeared in several areas of the refuge.

Their white wingtips are distinctive even when seen from behind.

We didn't see the Prairie Falcon that someone had reported recently but we did see plenty of other raptors: Northern Harriers, White-tailed Hawks, American Kestrels and, of course, Red-tailed Hawks.

Wet areas of the refuge had large numbers of American Coots and Northern Pintails - unfortunately well away from the road - while there were flyovers by Snow, Ross's and Greater White-fronted Geese.

A dozen Sandhill Cranes were a pleasant surprise.

The strong wind meant that sparrows were generally hunkering down out of view. However, we did see several Savannah Sparrows and a surprising number of Vesper Sparrows, the latter's tails clearly edged in white.  

At one point, a Song Sparrow popped up and checked us out.

When we arrived, the entrance road had lots of small, pale birds that  we weren't able to see well enough to ID. We had better looks at the same birds when we were leaving and we discovered that they were Lark Buntings. There is no mistaking that large, grey beak!


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