Sunday, November 2, 2014

Texas Tour 2014 - Corpus Christi: Day 1 - Sept. 16, 2014

     For the first time since beginning my trip, I was able to get a decent night's sleep. Today was my first full day of hawk watching with Libby at the Corpus Christi Hawk Watch located in Hazel Bazemore County Park. Libby and I got to the park a little early, so we decided to drive the loop and look for Painted Buntings. These birds seem to always evade me, and continue to do so.
     The morning started off well, with a noticeable mid-morning lift-off of raptors and other migratory birds. These are the birds that had settled into the trees north of us for the night and were now continuing on their journey as the sun warmed the earth and created thermals. Along with the Broad-winged Hawks and Mississippi Kites, Anhingas were also on the move, with 170+ flying over that morning. In addition, a single Green Jay, and flocks of American White Pelicans and Wood Storks were welcomed treats since I don't get to see them very often.

Flock of Wood Storks 
Young White-tailed Deer that visits the hawk watch daily
     After the initial morning flight, migration came to a halt. Looking at the radar revealed that there was a storm to the west of us which pushed a few birds through, but nothing near what the morning was like. There also seemed to be something going on to the south of us that the birds did not like because some were turning around and coming back north. When there are no birds to keep your mind busy, temperatures are in the 90s (F), and the sun rays are attacking you even in the shade, it is difficult to not think about cold drinks and a refreshing meal. I finally gave up hawk watching for a short time and took Libby's Jeep to the local Subway to grab lunch for both of us. This much needed meal picked up our spirits and got us through the remainder of the day.
     In the last few hours of the afternoon, we saw no migrating birds, so it was decided that we could pack up early with only 710 birds on the count sheet. At many raptor counting sites across the nation, this number would more than beat a season total. Here, in south Texas, this is considered a "slow day". It's all about perspective.

Immature Red-shouldered Hawk
Immature Red-shouldered Hawk
     On the way home from the hawk watch, Libby and I decided to stop at a grocery store to get food and drinks for the rest of the week. Cooking dinner that night was the cheaper option, but turned out to be a lot of work due to the roaches hanging out in all the pots and the subsequent sterilizing of said pots. At least they were small roaches unlike the 2-incher I had found in the hallway that morning. I guess it wouldn't be a proper birding adventure without a few run-ins with undesirable insects.

The only decent photo of a Green Jay I was able to get. These buggers are sneaky!

Next up! My second day of hawk watching!

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