OCTOBER 1961 O.G. FIELD TRIP
by Clinton Snyder
When we met at the Baytown Tunnel, Linda Snyder said that the only thing
she could promise us on this trip would be hordes of Blue and Snow Geese. The
weather was a little more encouraging - a mild norther had blown in the previous
night so that skies were clear, the wind northerly at 10-15 mph, and the temperature range was 55-75 degrees F.
The Baytown Tunnel was faily productive, yielding good views of such birds
as Avocets, Shovellers, Am. Widgeon, Pintail, and a flight of White Pelicans
riding the thermal waves against an immaculately blue sky. The group turned
westward via the ^sparrow place" (for the uninitiated, a wonderful stand of
huisache bushes just east of Cedar Bayou, staked out by Arlie McKay as one of the
best places for sparrows and fall migrants in the area). A quick stop produced
a Philadelphia Vireo, Pine and Nashville warblers, but, unfortunately, time
dictated that we must move on. At the pine woodlands north of Anahuac we saw
typical birds of that habitat. High overhead soared a few hawks notably
Coopers and Sharp-shinned. However, at Fort Anahuac Park the rate of hawks
passing overhead increased, including only accipitersand falcons (mostly
Sparrow hawks.) One group of birders lured into an open spot by an Eastern
Phoebe suddenly directed their attention to a hawk flying overhead. The falcon
shape and dark axillars immediately gave it away as a "Prairie Falcon. Now
that the group's appetite had been whetted - one rare bird was not enough -
we must see more!
In the ensuing enthusiasm the party leader suffered a very faumiliating
situation - we managed to lose the rest of the party due to a mixup of signals
at a service station. The main contingent went rushing down the highway toward
High Island trying to catch up with the party leader whom they thought was
ahead of them as the frustrated party leader in reality was speeding madly down
the highway trying to catch the main contingent. But the story has a happy
ending; we were finally reunited at High Island.
Our destination was the home of Wes Brannon the the NE corner of High
Island. One of the first birds spotted there was a gorgeous Black-Throated Blue
warbler feeding in the grass and low bushes. The bird was extremely tame, allowing itself to be approached as close as 10 feet. There were birds everywhere —
Magnolia Warblers and Kinglets flitted on the ground; flickers and many Yellow-
bellied Sapsuckers clumg to the trees; thrushes of three species were abundant
in the scrubby bushes; and aBrown Creeper was giving all the trees the onceover. Then came the cry, "Red-Breasted Nuthatch" from the Hoffman party, an
unprecedently early date for this deep winter bird. The nuthatch was also very
cooperative, lingering in the area' and giving its distinctive "yank-yank." An
Osprey soared overhead, then two Western Kingbirds flew across, and an Anhinga,
frightened by hunters flew nervously over.
Moving back towards the house, we found a fence row lined with bushes and
loaded with birds - Catbirds, Yellowthroats, other warblers, a Vermulion flycatcher, and the real bird-of-the-day, an Ash-throated Flycatcher. The distinctively paler appearance with the whitish throat and pale yellow belly as well as
the smaller size was noted. The majority of the group was able to see this bird
which apparently is the second area record.
A fitting climax to the day was the hawk migration which we witnessed at
dusk. Numerous Broad-wings and some falcons came to roost In nearby trees as
wedges of geese streamed over fromr.all directions.
Birders included: Mr. and Mrs. Snyder, Clint Snyder, Sam Hughes, Katrina
Thompson, Pat Sullivan, Thelma Smith, Norma Oates, Mary Belle & Frank Kokeah,
Bill Harwell and son, Bill, Thelma & Cliff Garrison, Louise & Henry Hoffman,
Irving Greenbaum, Hap Goodall, and Mr. and Mrs. Wm. L. Roever.
OFFICERS: Chairman: Mr. Henry Hoffman
Secretary: Miss Katrina Thompson
Treasurer: Miss Ella Wolfer
Field Trip Chairman: Miss Thelma Smith
Program Chairman: Charles Mclntire
Co-Editors of Spoonbill: M.& B. Deshayes
215 Marshall, Houston 6