another Osprey, but still no Green Kingfishers. An afternoon visit to Falcon State
Park produced many of the western desert species Including Cassin's and Clay-colored
Sparrows and yet another Osprey (possibly same one observed below the dam). A trip
to Bentsen State Park that night to try for the Elf Owl was disrupted by a large birding tour group who dominated the area and consequently nobody saw the owl that night.
Thursday morning found us back at Bentsen to observe one of the Orioles missed at
Santa Ana. We found the Hooded Oriole and then set out for Laguna Atascosa NWR where
we saw more Least Grebes, an Eared Grebe in beautiful spring plumage, and one more
Osprey, bringing the total to 5 or 6 Ospreys for two days, something we were pleased
to see. We set out for Refugio at 'id-afternoon and observed a beautiful White-tailed
Hawk along Hwy 77. Early Friday morning proved to be successful at Refugio as not
one, but two. Green Kingfishers were found, suggesting possible nesting in the area.
After this success we headed toward Aransas NWR and the entrance roads produced Caracara, Bay-winged (Harris') Hawk, a female Mallard with young, and nesting Cliff Swallows. The refuge was good for waders and marsh birds, but absolutely no migrants.
Friday evening found us enroute back to Houston. Though we.missed the Hook-billed
Kites at Santa Ana and a few other species we had hoped for, the trip was truly enjoyable. The weather was not ideal for birding but was ideal for the birders. No
attempt was made to "run up a list" but a final tally showed 160 species seen on the
AROUND AND ABOUT
** On March 31 the SPOONBILL editor, with several others, joined Bessie Cornelius
of Beaumont in a search for the Bachman's Sparrow north of Silsbee. A very few were
heard singing, one was briefly glimpsed, the sky got lower and lower, and on the way
back to Beaumont we ran into a torrential rain. A subsequent letter from Bessie included this interesting comment: "....But I do know those birds are in that area except I could not account for their behavior Wednesday. By all the rules they should
have been singing from every brush pile. But I believe because the barometer was
falling before the approaching storm the sparrow, as well as the other birds in the
area, felt the increased weight of the air In their hollow bones and they didn't feel
like singing. Also, It is said the falling barometer causes all wildlife to stick
closer to the ground; because of this the insects were also closer to the ground. The
weather man told me that the Chinese are doing a study with birds and other animals
in relation to earthquakes. They believe birds detect fault lines moving before the
actual tremor; that what is called infra-sound, long wave lengths, are detected by
wildlife before the human ear ever hears it, if at all; that before storms erratic
annimal behavior is often noted. I have to have some excuse for not getting that
sparrow to perform for all of you. I would have tried chasing the one you saw but I
have found that does Iittle good because they just run through the grass ahead of
you. So, I say it was just because The weight of the air on Wednesday that the
little bird kept our of our sight"!
** And let me share a portion of another letter with you. This one is from Randy
Korotev, a former member and present subscriber in Madison, Wisconsin. ".....Spring
has been a bit weird here, too. The cold winter let up early; from mid February on
Its been unseasonably warm. I'd estimate the flowers and trees are about 7-10 days
ahead of average now. But I've only seen four species of warblers so far (April 25).
I've been chasing around the state quite a,bit during the last two months looking
for "state" birds. The best bird was a European Wigeon that obligingly stayed for a
week In a marsh near here. However, it took over two hours of searching through
hundreds of American Wlgeons and many other ducks to find him—worse than looking for
a Ross' Goose! Some other good birds I've.been lucky enough to see have been Sharp-
tail Grouse, Saw-whet Owl, Black-backed 3-toed Woodpecker, Boreal Chickadee, Gray
Jay, and Bohemian Waxwing".
** Mary Bourgeois sends us this account of the joys and trials of the fairly new
birder: "A non-expert birder, I went with four other non-experts to the Anahuac Refuge April 17, and want to report that we saw a scarlet tanager so well that even nonexperts couldn't miss it. I watched it for about 10 minutes with the naked eye and
8x32 binoculars, while the others picked blackberries. It was in full sun, in reeds
10 to 15 feet from the road, bright red, with black wings and tall and a faint tinge
of yellow on each side of the breast next to the black wing, light colored beak. We
saw about 4 blue-winged teal, a dozen coots, about 10 scissor-ta11ed flycatchers, 2
or 3 kingfishers, red-winged blackbirds in numbers, sparrows we couldn't identify, a
covey of bobwhites, a number of meadowlarks, a number of kingbirds, and waterbirds
we couldn't identify for sure, forgive us.. My sister saw a mockingbird knock another
bird out of a tree in our backyard. It lay stunned and later died, a hole In its
throat. Even with the little carcass in our hands, she wrote Swainson's thrush on
her list and I wrote gray-cheeked thrush on mine but we're learning!