Monday, August 07, 2006

Power Walking on the Wild Side

Got a late start at birding today because I slept in like a lazy bastard, and by the time I finally roused myself and got ready to go the rain had started. When the rain finally stopped it was mid-afternoon, and then I promised Michelle I'd be home by 5pm or somewhere thereabouts, so if I was gonna revisit the Jack Gore Baygall Unit of the Big Thicket Preserve I would have to make it quick. I don't like driving Timber Slough Road when it's wet, so I walked (more like slow jogged) from where the pavement ends down to where the piney uplands become swampy bottomlands.

Yes, I went birding in a Texas swamp in the middle of an August afternoon. No common sense at all. Birds were quiet most of the time, but the recent rain stimulated an amphibian symphony. I'm still learning the sounds of the swamp. After listening to recordings I'm sure one of the species I heard was the Bronze Frog, and I've tentatively identified another as the Eastern Narrowmouth Toad. I was hoping to actually see some herps today, but no luck.It was a better day for butterflies. I even got some decent photos. Species seen along the Timber Slough Road today included Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, Pipevine Swallowtail, Red-spotted Purple, Gulf Fritillary, and Silver-spotted Skipper.
Twice I encountered feral hogs. They took off running, but I don't know which of us was more startled.

Really the birding wasn't that bad. Down in the swamp I had Yellow-billed Cuckoos, Prothonotary and Black-and-white Warblers, a Louisiana Waterthrush (almost certainly a migrant here), and Indigo Bunting. I was ostensibly looking for Ivory-billed Woodpeckers, with the usual results or lack thereof. Heard a couple of Pileateds and a few Downys. Noticed more bark scaling than on earlier trips, so it looks like the woodpeckers have been busy. With all the snags and downed timber from the hurricane they should enjoy a plentiful food supply for the next few years.


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