Monday, March 6, 2017

Plover Palooza

I had kinda written off getting Mountain Plover until the fall, I had missed them in the Granger area and I hadn't seen any reports in a couple of weeks. On Saturday the March 4 Willie Sekula posted a note about finding a good number in Frio County at a sod farm. I decided to try for these birds on Monday.

So at 4 am on Monday March 6 I headed out to make the 260 mile drive to the sod farm. I was almost there and noted another sod farm and stopped to check it out. Not much there, Killdeers, Wilson's Snipe, Red-winged Blackbirds, a Northern Cardinal called across the road. On to the main target.

At the target sod farm at first there didn't seem to be much there, just a pair of Crested Caracara strutting around. Then way back I saw a single medium plover, no ring, soft dun colored back and chest, no obvious supercillium. I was relieved to tick off Mountain Plover as Year Bird 317.

American Golden-Plover
This bird was too far away for a photo though. There was more and closer habitat to check and I wanted to get a photo so I re-positioned myself  and began scanning. No close Mountain Plovers but I found an American Golden-Plover for Year Bird 318.

More scanning and I found Pectoral Sandpipers for Year Bird 319. Not a bad morning, Three new ones by 9 am.

I love trying to run up a county list and I'd never to been to Frio County, but to set a big year record you need to stay focused on the next bird. I decided to check another sod farm not far away that had a recent report of Audubon's Oriole.

On the way I stopped to check a large number of swallows under an overpass, Cliff Swallow was Year Bird 320. Off to the Audubon's Oriole spot.

At the next sod farm the road ran along some brushy land that look good for Audubon's. I imagine it was a singing bird. I listen and scanned the field, finding a couple of Long-billed Curlews for county birds. No oriole. I drove along the road and listen with no luck on orioles for about a half mile.

I decided to check out Crownridge Natural Area on the way home hoping for a Golden-cheeked Warbler since some had been reported in other areas this weekend. Late morning wasn't the best but it seemed birdy still.

Hutton's Vireo shows off his blue legs
I walked and listened, lots of calls but none of the "zrr zoo zeedl zee twip" of a Golden-cheeked Warble. I did hear a "trweer trweer trweer" that didn't ring a bell at the moment. While trying to find the bird a pair came chasing in and landed close by to reveal the mystery call. Hutton's Vireo was Year bird 321.

I've started putting my R0DE VideoMic ME in my pocket to record birds. This mic is designed to clip on your smart phone. It looks a bit like a tribble when it has the fur windscreen on it but its pocket sized. Its not as good as my Sennhieser 10 inch but its usually in my pocket and gets pretty good recordings when paired with the R0DE Mic App. Check out my results with the Hutton's Vireo after a little post processing clean up (300 Hz high pass filter and volume maximized). Now that you can add recordings to your email lists, I've been trying to get as many recordings as possible to contribute to the resource that the media on eBird has become.

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