First Post of Spring

What a week!  The weather’s been cold and wet and windy since Monday.  We certainly needed the rain and I really don’t expect it to be warm this early in the year (although it hit 90°F last week,) but I could do without the wind.  On top of that I had to go to Amarillo on Tuesday to test to renew my NREMTP certification and again on Thursday for RAC meetings.

I did go out Sunday and Monday for a while but didn’t see much either day.  I talked to a retired Canadian gentleman Sunday morning.  He has a travel trailer and spends most of the fall, winter and spring each year traveling from Canada to Padre Island and stops at Meredith for a while in the fall and spring.  He cruses around Canada and Alaska in the summer.  Sounds like a great retirement–wish I’d planned well enough for that.

I finally got out to the lake again early this morning and it was an absolutely gorgeous spring day.  According to eBird we aren’t getting a lot of the migrations through here yet like they are getting further east of us, but I saw a few new beaks today.

I’ve seen at least 20 or more Double-crested Cormorantsdouble-crested-cormorant-in-first-light-1280x880 double-crested-cormorant-65-1280x854each time I’ve been to Fritch Fortress and Spring Canyon for the past several weeks.  There has also been a large colony of American White Pelicans on the sandbars in front of Blue Creek.

At Spring Canyon there was the usual crowd of Red-winged Blackbirds,red-winged-blackbird-41-1280x829 Western Meadowlarks, Ring-billed Gulls, and Killdeer.  I’ve been seeing a lone Greater greater-yellowlegs-28-1262x850Yellowlegs on the East end of the `Stillin’ Basin for a week or so now.  This morning there was a pretty large group of group of Gadwalls, Lesser Scaups, Green-winged Teals.

gadwall-lesser-scaup-and-green-winged-teal-1280x798

gadwall-lesser-scaup-and-green-winged-teal-7-1280x738 and a single Common Goldeneye feeding on the north sidecommon-goldeneye-24-1206x926As I was leaving I  saw the Pied-billed Grebe that has been around all winter in a smaller pond down the road.

There was a nice sized group of Buffleheads and Common Goldeneyes at Sanford-Yake and, sitting in the middle of them like a boss, was the largest Common Looncommon-loon-32-1280x847 I’ve seen.  A few minutes later a couple of Eared Grebes swam into view.eared-grebe-9-1280x803 A park ranger stopped and visited for a few minutes and as I began climbing up the boat ramp to my truck a flock of 8 Tree Swallows flew around the point from the main lake and darted around like madmen above me.  I managed to get one fairly good picture of one of them before I got too dizzy to continue.  Later, up at the top parking lot, I got a great portrait of a Rufous-crowned Sparrow.rufous-crowned-sparrow-18-1280x1000

I met a couple of birders there.  Surprisingly, I haven’t met that many in the 9 months I’ve been birdwatching.  I’m not sure if it’s because there aren’t many around here, or if they are, like me, a naturally solitary bunch, or if I’m just too scary looking to approach.  I see a lot of the same people as I make my rounds (the guy in the older model orange and tan Ford truck that sits at the lower parking lot at Fritch Fortress watching the eagles (I guess that’s what he does, it’s what i do there), the guy in the red Chevy truck that I see everywhere,  the guy in the little sedan with some sort of rig that he sets in the driver’s side window to mount a spotting scope or a camera on) but we all seem to be quite content to lift an index finger from the steering wheel in salute as we pass.  There was that group from the Texas Ornithological Society here in January, but they were in a hurry to make all the stops in Hutchinson County every day for 3 days, so other than jawing with me long enough for me to find out who they were, we didn’t talk.  Anyway, the two I met this morning seemed quite a bit more knowledgeable about birds than I.  After trading sighting info with them I ran out of intelligent conversation, so I quit harassing them and let them go on their way.

Last stop for the morning was Fritch Fortress.  I already mentioned the pelicans and cormorants and there were several Great Blue Herons, great-blue-heron-65-1280x859lots of gulls and three or four flocks of Mallards and Northern Pintails.

Sadly, there was only one Bald Eagle. I guess they’ve mostly headed north.  Sheila and I have really enjoyed them this winter.  Check out the gallery pages for more shots of these and other birds from Lake Meredith and Hutchinson Co.

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