The Sprague's Curse Lifted
Today I took part in the Bolivar Peninsula CBC. Each year our party starts the day by walking along a wooded bayou near Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge. This morning the woods were full of birds - highlights included a Common Ground-Dove, a bright red Eastern Screech-Owl, a Wilson's Warbler, and a small flock of Vesper Sparrows.
After birding the bayou we walk back to our cars through an adjacent pasture. There always seems to be at least one Sprague's Pipit in this pasture, and every year I lug my scope out there hoping to get a decent look at it. Invariably we flush one, only to watch it fly off into the distance, never to return. Year after year my hopes have been cruelly dashed, and today, as usual, when we finally scared up a pipit it did just as expected. Flew right over us making its stupid squee squee call, and just kept going. And going. And going.
But this year would be different. This year there would be a second Sprague's, and this one wouldn't fly away. In fact we couldn't make it fly. It was first spotted walking in the grass a short distance ahead of us. After some very satisfing views we got closer to try and get pictures. It allowed us to approach to within fifteen feet, and then walked with us most of the way back to our cars! Initially we considered that it could be injured, but we did see it take a couple of short flights. The light was poor, but I got one decent photo:
Other good birds seen today included a Least Flycatcher, 2 Palm Warblers, and best of all, an immature Golden Eagle (apparently a first for the count!). We birded until after sunset, ending the day with Short-eared Owl and dinner at Al-Ts in Winnie.