Friday, December 12, 2014

Early Morning Birding

Sunday morning I was up and out of the house well before dawn, heading for the Katy Prairie. I had four specific objectives:
1. Look for Short-eared Owls off Porter Road
2. See if Harris's Sparrows were back on Longenbaugh
3. Try to find an Inca Dove on Longenbaugh
4. Check out Meadowlarks at Warren Ranch Lake to see if any were the Western species.

As it happened, I had picked a bad morning for birding because the weather was cold and drizzly. I scanned the fields on both sides of Porter Road for 30 minutes but saw no sign of any owls.

I was luckier on Longenbaugh. As soon as I arrived at the Bear Creek bridge, I spotted four Harris's Sparrows hanging out with some White-crowned Sparrows around the north side of the bridge. (In my experience, this is the most reliable place to find Harris's in our area.)

I scanned the backs of the creek for Inca Doves for a while but had no luck. So I decided to move on. However, I'd only driven a few yards when I noticed a bird on the road ahead. My first Inca Dove in Harris County in 2014! 

By the time I got to Warren Ranch Lake the weather was slightly better and I had good views of a variety of ducks and 100+ American White Pelicans.

There were 7-8 Meadowlarks also. I examined and photographed all of them very carefully. Unfortunately, all of them turned out to be Eastern Meadowlarks.

On my way home I drove back along Longenbaugh and found that half-a-dozen Harris's Sparrows were busy feeding in a small tree several hundred yards east of the creek. Although the weather was still poor, it had improved enough for slightly better photos than the ones I had taken earlier.

So I had struck out on the owls and Western Meadowlarks but I had achieved my other two goals. 

BTW, for the past three years my Harris County list has topped 200 species each year. Sunday's Inca Dove took my 2014 county list to 196 species, which is not bad considering how little birding I've done this year. However, I'll certainly be trying to add at least another four species in the next three weeks. 

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