Monday, November 13, 2006

Weekend Off, Upper Texas Coast Birding

Enjoyed a rare weekend off. A cold front rolled in early Saturday morning, perfectly timed to coincide with our yard sale, which started at 7am. Brrrrr! Heard a Killdeer fly over at dawn. Killdeer are parking lot birds, but even the most commonplace species is rare somewhere...and that somewhere is my backyard. I’ve only had Killdeer here once prior, and that was also an unseen fly over.

While Michelle was busy disposing of our unwanted possessions I snuck off with binoculars to see what I could find. Most of the action was around the pond, where I saw a White-throated Sparrow (my first of the season) and a Golden-crowned Kinglet (as with the Killdeer, not so unusual, except that it's only the second one I've spotted here). Michelle soon realized that I'd escaped and called me back from my brief birding reverie.

Troy and Elizabeth arrived as the yard sale fizzled out. The bathroom tile was grouted on Friday, so Troy was able to install the last of the shower fixtures and make some final touches to the new bathroom - which is now basically finished. Hurrah! We got a lot of work done on Saturday, and still had time for dinner and a movie.

Lately Michelle and I have spent almost all our time together remodeling and doing household chores. On Sunday we celebrated an end to bathroom remodeling by going on a little birding trip, something we haven't done in months. Brought Pipa with us. There was some trepidation concerning the mosquito threat, but the cold weather more or less took care of that problem.

En route to Winnie we stopped to check rice fields along I-10. There were big flocks of grackles and ibises (White and White-faced for sure, and we probably could have found a Glossy had we tried). Saw our first Snow Geese of the season flying south in long honking V's.Made a brief stop at High Island mainly to use the restrooms at the sanctuary. While waiting for Michelle I noticed some activity in the woods. Neotropical migration is ending, but there were plenty of winter birds, including Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Blue-headed Vireo, Winter Wren, Ruby-crowned and Golden-crowned Kinglets, and White-throated Sparrow. A female hummingbird that buzzed the flowers by the restrooms defied easy identification, as usual.

After that we drove to Bolivar Flats. I wandered off to photograph shorebirds while Michelle walked the dog and collected seashells. Got some decent pictures and Michelle had a good time with Pipa, who was uncharacteristically well behaved. I was surprised to see him dash into the surf at one point, since he usually has a cat-like aversion to water – perhaps due to all those cold baths he’s been subjected to. He actually followed commands and resisted the evil urge to chase shorebirds. No dogs are allowed in the sanctuary, and we didn’t take him into the posted area where most of the birds gather. Next time we’ll probably leave him behind so we can do more birding.Couldn't resist - Piping Plovers are just too cute.

On our way back we stopped in Winnie for “Trade Days,” a monthly flea market. Michelle can only handle so much birding, and I owed her some shopping. By the time we were done we were completely exhausted. Pipa slept most of the way home.This is my lovely pregnant wife and our hairy bastard child (just before he plunged into the filthy brown water behind).


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