Saturday, August 8, 2015

Clyde the Calliope

Clyde the Calliope Hummingbird
Back in January a Calliope Hummingbird showed up at a home in New Braunfels, TX. I'm the compiler of the New Braunfels Christmas Bird Count and I was hoping that I could get this bird during the count. Clyde's landlord though was afraid of chasing him off and wanted to let him settle in before allowing visitors. We communicated all winter and we couldn't match up opportunities to see Clyde before he left for the breeding grounds in mid March.

I figured this was going to be one of those make up birds where I had to chase a bird early this winter or find one in West Texas in the late summer or early fall. I noticed a few reports from the Davis Mountains and was thinking it would be a target for the open house weekend next at the Nature Conservancy's Davis Mountains Preserve.

Black-chinned Hummingbird
At the end of July I saw on my eBird alerts that Clyde was back! Saturday looked like an excellent weekend for me to make a run for Clyde and I reached out to Clyde's host and she said come on down and early morning was best.

Clyde the
Calliope Hummingbird
I got there a few minutes after 7 am and Lorna greeted me and we settled in to wait for Clyde. I'm used to long waits at steakouts like this. Not today though, Clyde popped in immediately, not 30 seconds after I sat down. Clever Clyde the Calliope Hummingbird was Year Bird 449.  We chatted and I took several pictures of Clyde over the next couple of hours. At least five Black-chinned Hummingbirds battled around the yard also.

One the way back too Houston I decided to stop at the Attwater Prairie Chicken National Wildlife Refuge and look for Grasshopper Sparrow. One had been reported here a few days before. I let Birdseye guide me since it links to my iPhone navigation. The navigation too me off at an exit on I10 that I wasn't expecting but I like exploring back roads and decided to see where it took me.

Black-tailed Jackrabbit
That's the trouble though with the Birdseye navigation. It tries to take you to the coordinates of the eBird hotspot.  In the case of Attwater Prairie Chicken NWR the hotspot is located in the middle of about 10,000 acres. It took me in from the north end of the refuge. I realized the roads I was on were some county roads I'd head about where Prairie Chickens have been seen. Beautiful habitat. No Prairie Chickens, but I did see a Black-tailed Jackrabbit, something I don't think I've seen east of I35 before. Many coveys of Northern Bobwhite testified to the quality of the refuge habit and the green spring.

Too soon the road dead ended at a refuge gate. It looks like some of the old county roads have been closed by the refuge. I back tracked and entered the refuge from the south. Things turned about 180 degrees from the north end of the refuge. I don't think I've ever seen the APCNWR this dead! Just very few birds. Alas no Grasshopper Sparrow, no sparrows at all actually. I expected perhaps Lark Sparrow at least.

Grasshopper Sparrow will have to wait for another day, but I'll be back. Those county roads through the refuge on the north are some sweet looking birding roads.


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