Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Snow Day

Waffles aren't Texas shaped
in New Mexico!
I woke up to the parking lot of the Roadway Inn at White's City NM half full still with snow and the rest mostly black ice. While I enjoyed the novelty of a non-Texas shaped waffle I chatted up the motel staff and found I wasn't going to get to Dog Canyon where I expected to get Juniper Titmouse. Ok I would just have to dig one out at Frijole Ranch.

Juniper Titmouse
I hit the road in the fog, which mysteriously lifted at the Texas border. In no time I was at Frijole Ranch. I worked the area back along the wash that leads back to Bear Canyon. At first it was really quite. After about 30 minutes I heard some Spotted Towhee's mewing. I started doing my best Western Screech-Owl imitation and it started to get hopping. I could see finve Spotted Towhee's at once and a few Canyon Towhees. A Ruby-crowned Kinglet joined them. A flash of blue as a couple of Western Scrub-Jays joined the party. A pair of gray streaks zoomed in and then one perched in the open for a good look. Juniper Titmouse clocks in as Year Bird 494.

I feel better after, I felt this incredible sense of relief getting this bird since I've actually looked for it 3-4 times this year.  I heard what sounded like American Robins by the old ranch house and decided they should be checked for Varied Thrush before I left the site. The springs and ranch house had not a single bird, but I found a large flock of robins almost to Manzanita Springs. No Varied Thrush. Time to go.

Sagebrush Sparrow
I headed down the road to the dunes near Dell City where a good number of Sagebrush Sparrows had been seen this year. Almost to Dell City I see a Crissal Thrasher perched up and did a U-turn to try and photograph it. It moved off too far to photograph, but I heard several sparrow chips. On a whim I played some Sagebrush Sparrow song. Like a jet one flew in and perched for photos. Sagebrush Sparrow was Year Bird 495.

TX54 looking North to
El Capitan
Now I had to decide what to do next. I could head into the Devil's Hall and see if I could find a Spotted Owl. I hadn't head that anyone has been successful at finding a Spotted Owl there this year though so that was a long short. I decided to see if Shepdawg was still in the area and headed back to Marfa for another try at Baird's. I meet up with Shepdawg we head back down FM2810. We find few sparrows today and travel a lot further down the road, making 20 miles.

An American Kestrel finishes dinner
We see some cool things. A couple of Prairie Falcons. Three Red-tailed Hawks are soaring in the wind off a ridge next to the road. An American Kestrel finishes up what I presume was the only Baird's Sparrow in this parts. Our phones go off. Another Crimson-collared Grosbeak has been found in the Rio Grande Valley. Tempting but so far away. Tomorrow I'll have to make some decisions on my final moves.

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