Sunday I was up and out of the house by 5:30 a.m., heading for the Attwater NWR. I'd been meaning to do another visit there for a while but what made me choose this day was that this weekend was the one weekend of the year when you can be sure of seeing Greater Prairie Chickens.
I got to the refuge in time to ride in one of the tour vans out to one of the areas where the male birds display and boom in hopes of attracting females. Unfortunately, as it was a little foggy and the birds were several hundred yards away, it was impossible to get a good look at them. After 20 minutes I decided I'd had enough of watching birds I could hardly see and so I took a van back to the visitor center. Good decision! Halfway back the driver stopped to let us admire a solitary male Greater Prairie Chicken that was displaying and booming on a small mound.
Back at the visitor center, the Purple Martin house seemed to be fully occupied.
I got in my car and drove up to the bridge that gives (on foot) access to the refuge's lake.
It was quiet. The only waterbirds I could see were Common Gallinules and American Coots (below).
A Great Blue Heron momentarily brightened up the scene by perching for a minute on a nearby treetop.
Next I drove the auto loop, hoping for Northern Bobwhites among other birds.
Northern Harriers were busy quartering the area in search of prey.
Eastern Meadowlarks were perching on bushes and fences everywhere and singing their hearts out.
Killdeer were busy patrolling the edges of the road and exploring some of the muddy areas.
One of those muddy areas also had a Wilson's Snipe, a bird I see fairly often but rarely get to photograph.
Another wet area had five Least Sandpipers, distinguishable from other small sandpipers by their yellow legs.
Finally a pair of Northern Bobwhite showed by the roadside but disappeared into the vegetation before I could get a photo or even just admire them. I hate how they do that! As luck would have it, though, it wasn't long before another popped up some distance away from the road.
I left the refuge and headed home, pausing on the way only to grab a quick photo of my first Swainson's Hawk of the year.
As we'll be leaving the States in a couple of months, I don't suppose I'll ever get out to Attwater again. Still, previous visits have given me many happy memories of the refuge and this trip added a few more.