Sunday, November 27, 2011

Palo Pinto County Birding

Left, Lake Tucker near Strawn, TX.

Saturday I went birding with fellow birder Brady Surber from Vernon. Brady is active in the Texas Ornithological Society (TOS) Texas Century Club. This is a project to encourage birders to visit and record their observations in more Texas areas. There are many hot spots in Texas that are visited regularly, so we have a good understanding of the birds that inhabit those areas. However, there are many counties in Texas for which records are sparse. Hence, the Century Club, which is a challenge for birders to find at least 100 birds species in at least 100 counties. Brady has completed 40-some counties, and Saturday he wanted to work on Pal Pinto county. He already had 66 species.

Saturday was not the best day to bird in our region of Texas. The misty rain wasn't an issue, but the high winds were. Birds don't really like to expose themselves to a lot of wind any more than we do. We thought our best bet would be ducks, but we had only minimal luck with those, although we did add a few waterfowl to Brady's county list. As you can see in the photo of Lake Tucker above, the birds were not sitting on any open water. We found some ducks on small, sheltered tanks along the roadsides, but that was it.

One phenomenal sight was a kettle of hundreds of migrating turkey vultures passing over Strawn, TX. There were a few black vultures mixed in, but the turkey vultures stretched for miles. It was an impressive sight.

My own favorite bird of the day was the hooded merganser (see photo left, from Malcolm on Wikimedia Commons.) These are just beautiful, elegant birds. We came across a small tank and counted 10 birds in the small flock.

Although it wasn't a great birding day, I had a great time. Even a poor day birding is better than a good day doing anything else. We drove about 320 miles on this trip.

My list for the day included: mallard, gadwall, green-winged teal, ring-necked duck, hooded merganser, western grebe (I didn't get the greatest look at this one, but Brady was able to identify it,) pied-billed grebe, turkey vulture, black vulture, red-tailed hawk, sharp-shinned hawk, American kestrel, northern harrier, mourning dove, rock pigeon, northern cardinal, Carolina chickadee, Bewick's wren, yellow-rumped warbler, American crow, eastern bluebird, northern cardinal, ruby-crowned kinglet, field sparrow, white-crowned sparrow, Harris' sparrow, white-throated sparrow, European starling, and American goldfinch.

Good birding!

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