|Thousands of Sandhill Cranes land in a field |
near Muleshoe NWR
We had about an hour left before we needed to head south towards Austin. We drove the roads looking for groups of cranes and while we found many Sandhill Cranes, no Common Crane. I did add Chestnut-collared Longspur for year bird 223 and Lapland Longspur for year bird 224.
|White-cheeked geese on Brashear's Lake, Levelland, TX|
Too soon we had to load up and go and make the 425 mile drive to the Lake Creek Trail in Austin where the Eurasian Wigeon was reported. I agonized the whole way looking for positive reports but alas there were none.
Raptors were scarce of the drive, I was counting on getting a Ferruginous Hawk today. Hawks were scarce, just a few red-tails until we got to Lubbock and then none for about 200 miles.
We made it to the site a few minutes after 5 pm. I jumped out and started scanning and almost immediately found a "Storm Wigeon". A rare variation of Wigeon with a white face. There are some good pictures HERE on this blog.
I asked John to take a look at it and while John was looking through the scope he says "there's the wigeon" I took a quick look and coming out of the edges was a gray bodied bird with a reddish head and a creamy white "bald pate". Almost immediately it disappeared though and although we looked until we lost light we never saw it again, but we did see new ducks all the time so there were a lot of hidden birds. We also saw "Stormy" a couple of more times but he would disappear too. I'm still weighing this one, did I see the Eurasian Wigeon? I've not ticked it yet.
Lake Balmorhea. We actually heard the last chuck fall less than a hundred miles from home.
This road trip was about 2150 miles and I added 62 year birds. I think our trip list is going to be about 160 species.
One thing I learned is I'm going to need to train a bit before my next mountain trip. Bear Canyon was hard, although its a hard trail. I also think I need to get a carbon fiber tripod to lighten the load, like the Manfrotto MK294C3-D3RC2. I would love to hear recommendations for a tripod that will hold a Bushnell Elite Scope.
It was a good trip, but I did manage to leave some birds on the table. Ones I should be able to make up during the year are Ferruginous Hawk, Rough-legged Hawk, Sagebrush Sparrow, and McCown's Longspur. Those are pretty straightforward to make up and some can be found at least a day trip from Houston. Harder to make up are the review species I left behind, Varied Thrush, Common Crane, and Eurasian Wigeon.
Its not going to be easy to get up to 300 by the end of month and stay married. I need to stay close to home and will have to pick my targets. Priorities will be birds that are hard to get after mid March.