Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Where the Rubber Doesn't Meet the Road...

Clark's Grebe at Lake Balmorhea, TX
Clark's Grebe at Lake Balmorhea, TX
Today was the start of the big west Texas trip as part of the TOS meeting in El Paso. my friend John O'Brien and I left Houston at 1 am and headed west on I10. 10 am found us pulling into Balmorhea, TX. We gassed up for the rest of the day and headed for Lake Balmorhea, Almost immediately we found a Clark's Grebe coming only a few feet from the car. Over the next few hours we dug up as many birds as we could here, with an adult California Gull being perhaps the best bird. There were no Western Grebes we could find, a disappointment. We spend quit a lot of time looking through spotting scopes with no luck.

Over all it was a cold a dreary day, by the time we left the area it had risen to 35 degrees by 1 pm, the warmest we would see all day.
John scans Lake Balmorhea at just above freezing from the dam

Turns out Lake Balmorhea is NOT where the rubber meets the road, at least not when you drive the road opposite the same at Lake Balmorhead. Take a look at that tire, we a rind of more than an inch of sticky, slippery mud on the tires. I felt like Hermann Munster walking in my boots in similar condition. 

Finally heading for the Davis Mountains we decided to make a quick stop at the Wild Rose Pass Picnic Area. The place was very birdy, with three towhees, Green, Canyon, and Spotted Towhee; and three wrens, House, Rock, and Canyon; Scaled Quail, and several species of sparrows. We counted 23 species in just a 20 minute stop.

Dark-eyed Juncos, Davis Mountains, TX
Two Dark-eyed Junco Subspecies in the Davis Mountains
When we finally made it The Lawrence W Woods Picnic area on 118, it was 3 pm and really quit. I mean, no sound at all quit, no vehicle noises, no wind noises, and no bird noises. We beat the bushes for a while and managed several new year birds for me, and found a large number of Chipping Sparrow and Dark-eyed Juncos coming to seeps along the creek. 

I got a lot of good pictures today. I can't say enough about how I'm loving this new Canon EF 300mm F4 IS lens I got right before Christmas. 

Today added 25 species to my total for 2015, bringing me to 189. I'm crossing my fingers that I get to 200 tomorrow. The game plan is to hit the Lawrence E Woods Picnic area again early, maybe stop in at the state park for their feeders, then head for El Paso via the Valintine. We're going to bed after 20 hours on the road and birding with dreams finding a Baird's Sparrow.


  1. Loving the Big Year. Great write ups!

  2. Replies
    1. Yes Tommy, we will at least be near Muleshoe NWR on Monday

  3. Hey I remember that mud....................Lame! California Gull - worth it!