Friday, December 24, 2004

A White Christmas In Southeast Texas!

On Thursday I took part in the Bolivar Peninsula Christmas Bird Count. Coinciding with this event was the arrival of a major cold front, so it was freezing when I met the rest of our little group near Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge at 7am. We spent the better part of the morning sloshing through soggy woods and fields. As the day wore on it didn't get any warmer, just colder. We spent most of the afternoon birding from inside a heated car. Nobody really wanted to get out and walk around in that arctic wind. Well at least it wasn't raining...

We didn't find any remarkable rarities, and most of the species that we counted wouldn't be unusual on a California CBC. Much of the time we could just as well have been birding near Los Banos or somewhere in the Sacramento Valley - we even had Ross's Geese among the Snow Geese flying over us. But this is Texas, so there were a few birds that you wouldn't be likely to find on a California CBC, like Crested Caracara and Northern Bobwhite.

After our group disbanded I did some last minute birding on my own along FM 1985. I didn't make any great finds, although I was later surprised when the few Cattle Egrets I saw at the very end of the day turned out to be the only ones found on the count!

The countdown was held at Al T's Cajun Restaurant in Winnie. After reviewing the list the final tally was 180 species. And we had gumbo. It was great.

The frigid weather continues. As I left the house at 1pm today I noticed my birdbath was iced over, and it was actually snowing as I drove through Beaumont on my way to work. That's right - it was snowing in Southeast Texas on Christmas Eve. I call that a Christmas miracle.


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