But in terms of birding, the mild Texas winter means much more bird life compared to the Northeast. Even in January, flowers are blooming and there are even butterflies and dragonflies. The wetlands don't freeze, so herons, egrets, spoonbills and lots of other wading birds are still around. But up North you get a different sort of winter birding. Over New Years, Ben and I drove out to Jones Beach on Long Island. The West End was a particularly good spot for birds. We got red crossbills there - but the best part was walking right into a winter flock of nuthatches, chickadees, a downy woodpecker, and a hermit thrush stalking around on the ground. There are small groves of pine trees at the West End which provide shelter out of the wind and cold, and here the birds were feeding like crazy. The nuthatches were so loud, it sounded like several tiny car horns honking up in the trees. The chickadees almost got stepped on by us, they were probably so hungry and cold and dazed by the sea wind all they cared about was food. When you walk into a flock of birds like that, it's just such a cool experience - it's like being one of them almost (or at least seeing what they're doing from up close).
View of Jones Beach - West End.
From left to bottom:
A tiny windblown red-breasted nuthatch.
A chickadee foraging on the ground.
A grove of pines - perfect nuthatch habitat.
A downy woodpecker.