Thursday, April 9, 2015

West Texas, 4/6-7/15

Finally there was a break between storm systems so thought I might make a quick trip out to west Texas. My plan was to go to Big Bend and pick up a few year birds and look for butterflies.  But after a late start and spending the night in Sanderson, I thought I might just run over to Marfa and try for Baird's Sparrow.  I reached RR 2810 in Marfa at 9 AM and headed south and a couple of miles out of town I found lots of sparrows in the grasslands.  I stopped and gave a blast of Baird's Sparrow song from my iPhone and immediately a Baird's Sparrow flew up to the fence to investigate.  Wow, that was easy.

The grasslands were loaded with sparrows.  Grasshopper, Cassin's, Vesper, Clay-colored, Brewer's, Chipping, Black-throated and White-crowned lined the roadsides.

I guess Green-tailed Towhee counts as a sparrow also.

Sparrows weren't the only vertebrates enjoying the grasslands.

I've seen about all parts of Texas and I feel without a doubt the Ranch Road 2810 and Pinto Canyon Road as it is called after it turns to dirt has the most beautiful scenery in the state. 

Ranch Road 2810 ascends through the grasslands to a crest where the pavement stops and Pinto Canyon Road descends to the south through rugged desert country.  At the crest I picked up Rufous-crowned Sparrow.

A pair of Ash-throated Flycatchers may have been migrants or may have just arrive on their breeding grounds.

The afternoon was spent looking at butterflies and driving the Camino del Rio to Big Bend National Park. The butterflies will be reported on my other bog.  It was almost dark when I made it to the Basin campground which was infested with campers.  So I decided to drive on over to the primitive campsites along the road to Pine Canyon.  Under a million stars, the only sounds were the wind and an occasional Common Poorwill.  Here's a shot of my camp site.

The next morning I broke camp and dove on up to the Pine Canyon Trail head.  Plenty of birds were in song along the way.  Here's a Scaled Quail.

Flowers were putting on a spectacular display all over west Texas.

Hiking up the trail I heard the flutey sounds of a Scott's Oriole, probably a new spring arrival.

Up in the more wooded part of the canyon, I imitated the Mountain Pygmy Owl whistle to call in birds.  It worked really well.  This Red-breasted Nuthatch may have been the same one I saw up here last fall.

A few Black-crested Titmice, Hutton's Vireo's, Bewick's and Canyon Wrens were attracted but not the hoped for migrant western warblers.  I guess I was a little early in the season.  However the Blue-throated Hummingbird was on territory and did not like my owl calls.

Then one more bird joined the angry flock, a nice Hammond's Flycatcher.  Seems a little early for one.

So it was a pretty good day in the canyon for birds.  It was even better for butterflies.which you can see by clicking here (after I make the blog post).  As I said it was a short trip and it was time to head for home. Here's a couple of eBird lists.

Presidio Co.- RR2810, Presidio, US-TX
Apr 6, 2015 9:05 AM - 11:57 AM
Traveling31.5 mile(s)
Comments:     From Marfa to end of pavement.

Mallard (Mexican)  1
Scaled Quail  3
Turkey Vulture  4
Harrier  1
Swainson's Hawk  1
Red-tailed Hawk  1
Mourning Dove  25
Kestrel  2
Say's Phoebe  1
Ash-throated Flycatcher  1
Loggerhead Shrike 1
Common Raven  1
Verdin  1
Bewick's Wren  1
Curve-billed Thrasher 1
Northern Mockingbird  5
Green-tailed Towhee  6
Canyon Towhee  7
Sparrow  30
Chipping Sparrow  30
Clay-colored Sparrow  30
Brewer's Sparrow 30
Vesper Sparrow  60
Black-throated Sparrow  6
Lark Bunting  20
Sparrow  14
Grasshopper Sparrow  7
Baird's Sparrow  2
White-crowned Sparrow 8
Western Meadowlark  4
Eastern Meadowlark  3

Big Bend NP--Pine Canyon (FWTX 43), Brewster, US-TX
Apr 7, 2015 6:00 AM - 2:40PM
Protocol: Traveling3.0 mile(s)
Comments:     from campsite 3 to pouroff.
31 species

Scaled Quail  9
Turkey Vulture  2
Band-tailed Pigeon 1
Common Poorwill  1
Blue-throated Hummingbird  1
Acorn Woodpecker 2
Red-naped Sapsucker  1
Hammond's Flycatcher  1
Flycatcher  2
Cassin's Vireo  1
Hutton's Vireo  5
Mexican Jay  6
Raven  1
Black-crested Titmouse  4
Verdin  1
Canyon Wren  3
Bewick's Wren 4
Cactus Wren  5
Ruby-crowned Kinglet  1
Hermit Thrush  2
Mockingbird  1
Orange-crowned Warbler  1
Green-tailed Towhee  1
Towhee  5
Rufous-crowned Sparrow  5
Canyon Towhee  6
Cassin's Sparrow 2
Black-throated Sparrow  6
Lark Bunting  12
Scott's Oriole  1
House Finch 1

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