Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Snow Geese

On Sunday, we went out to Highland Reservoir in Harris County, TX to try and find some Smith's longspurs. It was a beautiful, clear morning. We spent an hour or so walking through the field trying to flush the longspurs, but all we managed to scare up were tons of savannah sparrows (probably >100) and meadowlarks. In the northeast corner of the field, there were 3 donkeys grazing. They looked slightly troublesome, so we avoided them as best as we could. After an hour or more of fruitless searching for the longspurs, we decided to just bird the wooded edge of the field, where we got some winter warblers, kinglets, swamp sparrows in the marshy parts, cardinals, chickadees. Well, as luck would have it, I emailed Blake Dyer about our unsuccessful longspur search, and he sent me a detailed Google map of their location. It turns out that those stupid donkeys were right around where the longspurs should've been! Either the longspurs were in the far NE corner of the field or in the north field, which we didn't go to (since we wanted to bird the coast on the same day and not squander all our time on the longspurs). Silly donkeys!

Well, despite not getting any longspurs, the time at Highland Reservoir was not wasted. It was a beautiful place. The sky was brilliant azure with very interesting cloud cover. The field was stubbly and there were even some remnant puddles leftover from the big rain last Monday. We got a few gadwalls and blue-winged teals in the puddles, and flocks of red-winged blackbirds were gathering and taking off in the bare trees, making their thickened clucky marshbird noises. The best part though, was when we heard distant honking far off, looked toward the northeast, and saw a huge flock of snow geese heading our way:

Thanks to Ben Van Allen for the snow geese pics.

Sunday's quiet, bright morning reminded me of a similar morning back home on Long Island when I walked through a little patch of woods behind the old boathouse at Coindre Hall with my good friend Paul Vermylen (who introduced me to the spot, and where I got my first American tree sparrow! Thanks Paul!).

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