Friday's reports were positive so at 3 am Saturday morning I left for the 328 mile drive to Hargill. I had some other target birds, Wood Stork and Grasshopper Sparrow. Wood Stork is taunting me daily on my eBird alerts for the year. A few have been reported along my route too, should be easy to pick that up for the year right?
I also am seeing a few reports of Grasshopper Sparrow, which I missed in the winter and would love to pick up. John O'Brien and I were talking driving back from the Valley after the pelagic trip and recalled how he had a lot singing around the dam for Lake Texana after Tropical Storm Francis. Ok that storm was 17 years ago (1998) but if those birds were breeders and the habitat is still the same its not unreasonable to still find them there. So as I left the house my plan was to drive to the Hargill Playa, jump out and view the Collared Plover, jump back into the car and find a Wood Stork somewhere, then head for Lake Texana and get Grasshopper Sparrow. Easy big year trifecta right?
|Northern Bobwhite high on a|
wire, Kleberg County
I stopped to gas up and get breakfast in Kingsville. By now it was mostly full light but the sun had not risen yet. Whataburger took a while to get my order ready so I had too much time to think. I started playing with the Birdseye on my phone. Why look at that, Wood Storks were reported from Mittag's Pond on CR2300 just last weekend. Why that would take only a few minutes to check. See, too much time to think.
|Mittag's Pond on CR2300 in Kleberg County, TX|
On to Hargill Playa. When I arrived there were about 10 cars there and maybe 30 people. Certainly a good sign. I saw Tim Brush and asked him if "IT" was there. He replied that "IT" was moving around a lot and should be easy. Then everyone got in there car and left! Weird, was the bird still there? I got out and approached the 3-4 people still on the levee and inquired. They has just lost sight of the bird. As I was getting my scope set up it was relocated. In a couple of minutes I was viewing Collared Plover for Year Bird 447.
|Collared Plover, Hargill, TX|
I decided on a whim to check the Brooks County Rest Area for the Painted Redstart that has spent a couple of winters there just to see if it might be around. No luck. but I did pick up Hooded Oriole as a county bird for Brooks County.
Checking eBird again I saw there was a recent report from Tule Lake in Corpus Christi if Wood Storks. That was just a few miles off my route so I was on my way again.
Tule Lake was kinda dead, I only managed twelve species while I was there. Certainly no Wood Stork, but I have had it there many times. Wood Stork shouldn't be this hard.
I head for the Palmetto Bend Dam at Lake Texana. Once I exited the highway and got out of Edna thinks started to look kinda good for Grasshopper Sparrow. lots of pastures and some bare ground. The road was too busy to really stop though.
When I got to the dam area, all the grass had just been hayed! Every thing was freshly mowed and baled! I drove a couple of road that looks good nearby, but saw no birds even though I thought I heard a little piece of Grasshopper Sparrow song, but listening it never repeated.
One more stop I decided, the Formosa-Tejano Wetlands. This is a another spot I've had Wood Stork before. Eighteen species but no Wood Stork. Wood Stork shouldn't be this hard. I did find a hen Goldeneye for a pretty unusual summer bird.
I'm not too bummed about the sparrow, but Wood Stork should not be this hard! Of course there were a dozen reports in my inbox when I checked.