Saturday, August 15, 2015

White-eared Hummingbird

Sunrise at the Windmill Campsite
TNC Davis Mountains Preserve
Ugh, dawn broke with a gorgeous sunrise while I tried to work the kinks out of my body from sleeping the the car all night. Grabbing a quick breakfast and striking camp we made it to the trail head at the last gate before the sun was above the horizon.

The dawn chorus was good for this late season. Canyon Towhee, Spotted Towhee, Black-headed Grosbeak, and House Wren called. Not a quarter mile down the trail I found Gray Flycatcher for Year Bird 452. Chipping Sparrows seemed always present along the Madera Canyon Road.

We passed several big stands of Standing Cypress, Ipomopsis rubra. Each stand had several hummingbirds defending it, many Rufous Hummingbirds showing who was large and in charge. I've spent a fair amount of time in the field in Texas and in the tropics and I've never seen such concentrated hummingbirds in the wild.

We started up the Tobe Canyon Trail. We stayed alert for a Short-tailed Hawk that was reported the day before. Not far up the trail a buteo perched well toward the summit of Mount Livermore caught our eye. We did all we could turn it into a Short-tailed hawk, but alas it was a Red-tailed Hawk.

Another stand of Standing Cypress had another charm of hummingbirds, but just more Broad-tailed and Rufous Hummingbirds. We pushed on.

White-eared Hummingbird
TNC Davis Mountains Preserve
Almost to the Tobe Canyon Spring we ran into Greg Page. Greg showed us the White-eared Hummingbird's favorite perch. We chatted for about 10 minutes waiting for some action, The sun had not yet made it to the bottom of of the canyon. Right behind the perch was another stand of Standing Cypress, very promising.

Suddenly there it was, White-eared Hummingbird Year Bird 453! The White-eared seemed to be doing battle with a Rufous Hummingbird and seemed to be coming out on top.

We headed down the mountain to the car. Still very birdy but nothing new or noteworthy.

We headed back wanting to get a start for the Guadalupe Mountains and find me a tarp to cover my tent in case of more rain.

Back at the McIvor Visitor Center we stopped to chat with Joe Fischer. A "Lillian's" Meadowlark called nearby for an escrow bird. Lillian's is a subspecies of Eastern Meadowlark with a distinctive call and is often named as a good candidate for a split. Its endemic to the Trans-Pecos and Northern Mexico.

Zone-tailed Hawk
TNC Davis Mountains Preserve
Joe also mentioned an easy Common Black Hawk near by and offered to take us to it. It was close and in a few minutes we were on it. We took picture, listen to the calling birds and I even recorded it. Turns out later when we checked all of this out great documentation, the Common Black Hawk turned in to the much more common black hawk of the southwest, Zone-tailed Hawk!

At an auto parts store in Van Horn, Tx I found the classic blue tarp and some rope. Once at the Pine Springs Camp Ground at Guadalupe Mountains National Park I fashioned it into a what all of use from Houston now recognize as the "Ike" roof. It rained on us that night again and it kept me perfectly dry. I was thinking the 's' in West Texas wasn't needed, this was turning into Wet Texas.

Once we had the camp set up we headed over to the Frijole Ranch to search for Juniper Titmouse. Things were hopping at the old homestead, even yielding a gorgeous pair of Lazuli Buntings. Sadly no Juniper Titmouse today, but there will be another chance for the Titmouse. Tomorrow is another day.

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