Saturday, March 14, 2015

It Pays to Be Lucky

I started the day in Brazoria County looking for an Aplomado Falcon I got a tip on. The ABA recently voted to make the Texas coastal population countable so I need to get this bird. I found the spot were it was seen on Wednesday and set up to watch for a while.

Not a lot was happening. After about 30 minutes I thought I heard a Black Rail call, but it only called once. As I listened I noticed a distant Mockingbird was doing a Black Rail call. Interesting. I have a lot of experience with Mockingbirds doing Black Rail calls at Anahuac NWR. They usually start doing the call about this time in the spring and I've always assumed that it coincides with the start of Black Rails calling. I've always speculated that they start imitating a call that they are hearing. In otherword, when then Mockingbirds are imitating Black Rails, the Black rails have started calling for the year

The Black Rail was calling from
right there!
I didn't think the call I heard was a Mockingbird, it came from a different direction. After about 10 minutes I heard it again. I walked across the road to where I was hearing it. Yes! its started calling again, this time multiple times and it wasn't far away. Black Rail was down as Year Bird 294! Some days it pays better to be lucky than to be good.

I spent sometime attempting to get a recording of it since it wasn't far away. The voice memo app on the iPhone actually does an amazing job. I was able to get a couple of good clear recordings of the bird for documentation. I was amazed that there were no Texas recordings of Black Rail on Xeno-Canto.org.


Tricolored Heron using Carson HookUpz and
and Bushnell Elite Scope
After spending 90 minutes at the site I decided to move on and look for some other needed birds in the area.  Since I was actually inside Brazoria NWR I decided to check out the Big Slough Auto Tour and see if perhaps I could find either a Fulvous Whistling-Duck or an American Bittern. Things were kinda slow but I got a chance to play with my new toy,  my Carson HookUpz Universal Smart Phone Optics Digiscoping Adapter. This clever gadget allows me to use my iPhone 5c for digiscoping without taking it out of its Otterbox case. Its not brand specific and will work with just about any smart phone up to about iPhone 6 size (it won't work with the 6 plus). It will also attach to my binoculars. I took a few shots of a Tricolored Heron with very nice results. I'm going to play with it some more and then post a full review. So far I'm very pleased though.

I tried to head over to Surfside and Crab Road again and make another try for Nelson's Sparrow. As soon as I got off the bridge realized something was up. I was right on the route for the St, Patrick's Day parade! Curse me Luck! I decided a hasty retreat from this mess was in order and I headed to Quintana since I was close.

White-eyed Vireo, Quintana TX
Quintana was mostly quite with not much going on. A Field Sparrow was kinda of a surprise for the sanctuary there, and a White-eyed Vireo cooperated for a picture. A Cooper;s Hawk flew into the sanctuary and since that shut things down I decided to leave.

On to San Bernard NWR to try again for the Fulvous Whistling-Ducks and American Bittern. It was getting late I decided to just to the Moccasin Pond Loop and exit via Rail Pond. Ducks are really thinning out fast this year, No Fulvous, but this American Bittern posed for Year Bird 295,

So now the race is on, what winter birds can I get before they all fly north for the summer? My next big milestone is not 300, but 366, my total last year. After that its the race to the finish! The next hundred shouldn't be too hard because spring migration is about to start!

American Bittern Year Bird 295, San Bernard NWR

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