Early Birds

I spent an hour or so Sunday morning at Meredith and hadn’t really seen much of anything so, still craving a bird fix,  I drove to the playa near Panhandle Sunday afternoon to see what I might find there.  It’s a 20 minute drive and the time was well spent.  Once again there were hundreds of waterfowl on the playa-American Coots, img_1470-1280x855Blue-winged Teal, img_1472-1280x855Northern Pintails and Shovelers, Mallards and, best of all, Sandhill Cranes.

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I was pretty excited about the cranes for two reasons; it’s a little early in the year for them and there was a lot of them, 57, to be exact.  It isn’t a record early sighting (there had been a couple of sightings two days earlier in central and west Texas) but it was good enough to get listed in the rarities list for Texas.  Unfortunately the closest access was about 400 meters so I wasn’t able to get more than confirmation photos, but still, it was an awesome thing to see.

In other news, I got a couple of nice photographs of the Curve-billed Thrasher feasting on the Prickly Pears in the lot across the street from my house.  curve-billed-thrasher-33-1280x893He really seemed to enjoyed it–you can see the juice dripping from his beak in a few of the pictures and the feathers on his throat are stained red.

My trip to Meredith this morning was a little more productive.  I got a photograph or 12 of a Pied-billed Grebe, pied-billed-grebe-25-1280x815

a couple of Northern Flickers (appears to be a Red-shafted and a Yellow-shafted,)northern-flicker-63-1280x939and some of one of my favorite birds, a Rock Wren.  These little guys are very bold and call and sing loudly, their songs echoing off of the canyon walls as they flit rapidly, weaving in and out of the brush and boulders as they feed and flirt with each other.rock-wren-87-1280x860

Besides, it’s fun to say Rock Wren.

There were also American White Pelicans, Double-crested Cormorants, Ring-billed Gulls, American Avocets, Great Blue Herons, and hundreds of American Coots and assorted other waterfowl on the south end of the lake.  Again, closest access to this end of the lake is several hundred meters and 40 or 50 meters up on the bluffs at Fritch Fortress.  You can hike around from the boat ramp or climb down the bluffs.  The hike is about an hour and the climb is steeper than an old man needs to make.  I don’t bounce well anymore.  Maybe I’ll buy a canoe.

For more photos check out the galleries.

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