The area around a dry tank, with low trees and shrubs, provided a change
of habitat when we returned to lower ground. Jim Ellis spotted the first
Verdin seen, and we were able to observe it briefly and listen to its song.
Their interesting and unusual nests were numerous, and Ella Wolfer and Eva
Gilman literally came face to face with one of the small birds as they
peered into the entrance to its home. A Barn Owl flushed from the bushes
as we walked by, and Olive Sparrows and Hummingbirds (sp.) were also seen
in this area.
It was mid-afternoon when we turned back toward George West, and immediately
Ash-throated Flycatchers and a 5-ft„ Western Dliamond-back Rattler (the first
of three) were encountered. Eva Gilman caught a glimpse of a covey of Scaled
Quail and we all took to the cactus again to track them down. Here we found
nests of Cactus Wrens and one of the Curve-billed Thrasher containing three
blue-green eggs. The cars separated somewhat on the return trip, and Linda
Snyder and Midge Susie reported a Rufous-crowned Sparrow, Clay-colored
Sparrow, and a flock of 200 Lark Buntings.
Sunday morning was clear, warm, and windy, and we started early over our
same course. Since it was the only water in the area, we stopped again to
check the tank, and the sight of strangers with scopes and binoculars
peering over the fence attracted the attention of the property owner, Mr.
Houdmann. We quickly and gratefully accepted his friendly invitation to
drive in for a closer look. A large flock of Lark Buntings, with some
Lapland Longspurs accompanying, scattered over his fields, but our main
attention was directed to the water, where distant observation had suggested an interesting bird. We were not to be disappointed either, when a
careful search produced a pair of Cinnamon Teal, the male a beautiful
reddish-brown in the sun. Gadwall, Ruddy, and Ring-necked Ducks in addition
to Common Gallinules and Lesser Yellowlegs were added to those seen here
the Previous day. For this bone-dry country, we felt that we had done
pretty well with water birds.
With the Gilmans in the lead car, we started down the road again, with
repeat stops at some of the interesting spots of the previous day. Ground
Dove, Ladder-backed Woodpecker, and White-necked Raven were checked off.
Our birding time came to a close as the remaining "hard core" lunched by
the Leona River at Tilden. Unwilling to give up, a brief post-prandial
excursion along the banks of the river disclosed Carolina Wrens, Ruby-
crowned Kinglet, and a Fox Sparrow by Ella Wolfer. As we completed our trip
list, we counted 73 species including 13 sparrows, 7 ducks, 6 hawks,
4 flycatchers, 3 wrens, 3 thrashers, 3 doves, and 2 quail.
Clayton Gilman was a most enthusiastic and helpful leader for the congenial groupwhich included Linda Snyder, Midge Susie, Ruby and Tom Daniel,
Luta Buchanan, Edna Miner, Mary Belle and Frank Kokesh, Eva and Clayton
Gilman, Ella Wolfer, Helen Wolfer, Betty and Paul Caillet, Pat and Jim
Ellis, and Jean and Bill Harwell.
It was a memorable trip for all but especially thrilling for those of us
birding in that country for the first time. We'll long remember the stately
Yucca, the fragrant Mountain Laurel, and those sharp thorns on everything.
What more can we say except that the weekind provided Jean with 14 lifers
and Bill with 13!! Say, do you think those titmice we heard could have
been the Black-crested variety? We'd better go back and see.
Following the recent trip to George West, Mary Belle and I spent most of
Monday, March 25, at Garner State Park. It is a very attractive park in
many ways and at this season we practically had the place to ourselves.
Mr. Ross Hopkins, a semi-retired park attendant, is very much interested
in birds and attracts them to his back porch by shining a light at night
so as to accumulate a multitude of moths, upon which the birds feed the
following morning. He and the park manager were very appreciative of
a list of some 30 we saw during the day.
Two days at Prade Ranch yielded 60 species. Among the specialties were
Golden-cheeked Warblers, Rock and Canon Wrens, Black Phoebes, and close
looks at Cliff Swallows in and about their nests on the cliff overhanging