Monday, January 01, 2007

Happy New Year! (From the Soggy Bottom of Southeast Texas)

Photographed this Neotropic Cormorant at Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge. based on my observations I'd say that Neotropic Cormorant is much more common there in winter than is Double-crested.

It's a new year, and that means a new year list. I'm already off to a decent start with 58 species. My North American total for 2006 was abysmal...even counting Trinidad & Tobago birds I only had 379 species. And considering that parenthood is in my near future it's unlikely that I'll set any records in 2007.

In case you were curious about what has been seen at Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge in recent days, here's what was posted on the message board at the entrance station today. In addition to the usual birds and gators there was a trout on the 31st, and a Claudia and a Teen were apparently present on the 26th.Colvin's birds are interesting because Little Egret is the Eurasian analog to our Snowy Egret. From this I might deduce, Sherlock Holmes-style, that Colvin is from the other side of the big pond, and may not be aware of the difference between the two species (an honest-to-goodness Little Egret would be quite a find here). This could also explain the "Marsh Harrier" Colvin reported. There is a European species that goes by that name, but we don't have any. We do have the Northern Harrier, which is found on both sides of the Atlantic (but in Europe is known as the Hen Harrier). American birders used to call it the Marsh Hawk (I'm old enough to remember those days), and maybe "Marsh Harrier" is the result of an understandable confusion between the old and new monikers. By the way, official bird names are determined by a secret committee that meets once a year, at midnight during the vernal equinox. New names are divined through occult rituals and the interpretation of goat innards.

My favorite bird on the message board is the Gay Gnatcatcher. I mean, how do you identify that one? An unusual swishiness of the tail?

Michelle and I did a driving tour of the refuge today (no long walks in her condition). True to the message board we saw a couple of big alligators. I had Michelle take this picture of one, much to her discomfort and disapproval, because that's part of me in the shot with it. They really aren't as dangerous as they look (I know, that's what Steve Irwin said just before he tried juggling stingrays).It was also a good day for birds. Along the entrance road we saw the first of two Merlins perched atop a leafless tree.Farther on we came upon a group of 5 Crested Caracaras, and I got a few distant shots of the one that didn't immediately fly away.It was a fine day for photography. There was more traffic than usual on the Shoveler Pond loop, but even so there were plenty of birds close to the road, and I was able to get some nice photos from the car windows (like that of the odd trio below).Weather was cool enough that mosquitoes didn't pester us, but warm enough that large numbers of turtles were basking in the sun. At the edge of the bay I had both pelicans and a Reddish Egret. Marsh sparrows were elusive, as I've come to expect.

First bird of 2007: Rufous Hummingbird. Same one that's been wintering at our feeders (see previously posted photos).


At 4:12 PM, Anonymous Dorothy Borders said...

Thanks for the Anahuac report. I've been trying to get back there ever since my fall visit and hope to make it sometime this month. It is a wondrous place for birding.

BTW, congratulations and best wishes to you and Michelle on your impending parenthood!

At 4:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great Pics! I'm surprised to see Cara Cara that far north.

Good luck to you and Michelle and the little ones in 2007!


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