Saturday, December 31, 2005

Tradition ...

Bolt goes on a Christmas bird count each year, and since he’s been stuck in the greatest state of all this year, I got to join him on a Texas Christmas bird count.

We left on Friday and broke the five-hour drive up with a brief stop at a lake. A cooperative roadrunner stayed in sight for so long that we eventually left it to look at thrashers and warblers. The lake was fairly empty, but a shore bird walked right past us. I’d spent so much time enjoying the species while Bolt and Lynn attempted an identification in October that I should have known immediately what it was. I didn’t though, and Bolt had to tell me that it was a Least Sandpiper

We arrived in the booming town of Spur, Texas at 7:30 or so and stopped at a tiny Mexican restaurant for dinner. The curve-billed thrashers were life birds for me, and Bolt had seen a life bird the week before, so after dinner we drove across the street to enjoy blizzards.

The bird count began at 7:30 the next morning. We gathered with some other Texans, and the leader divided up the territory. Bolt and I were paired with a father and his almost-ten-year-old son.

I enjoyed the count. I’d heard that they are often rushed and allow little time for enjoying birds, but I found enough time to watch while the others were counting. (I’m just overflowing with team spirit, I know.) I enjoyed the Golden-fronted and Ladder-backed Woodpeckers. Also, the overly abundant kestrels were fun; I felt very familiar with them by the time the day was over.

The day provided two highlights. The first occurred when we stopped at an abandoned shack. We tramped around for a bit, and soon, Barn Owls began flying out of the building. We guessed that there were three of them, although they seemed much more numerous. They flew into the surrounding trees and would fly away and back again, over and over. Amazing.

The second highlight was the turkey. We’d heard it for a while, and I wanted to see it. I’m not really sure why I’ve wanted so much to see a turkey, but I have. We drove slowly down the highway, scanning the tall grass. Suddenly, it appeared. I got a short look at it, but not long enough. A police officer stopped us to caution us about the danger of pausing in the middle of the road, and we didn’t see the bird again.

Of course I enjoyed the other birds too. The ravens and the hawks and the meadowlarks and the finches and the quail and the Pyrrhuloxia and the many other species that showed up during the day … 33, to be exact.

We decided to skip to compilation dinner and head back to Dallas early. Plans can change, though, and ours certainly did.


At January 04, 2006 10:39 PM, Blogger John said...

CBCs can become a bit addicting, with the combination of birding for a purpose and social birding fun. I keep coming back for more, even though I am always dead tired at the end of the count.

At February 06, 2006 1:36 AM, Blogger Erik Mann said...

I was looking for blogs referring to Dallas and found yours. Great blog! I'm in Dallas and here's some info about me


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