Tuesday, January 29, 2013

North Texas Crossbill Trip

Alright, so the past weekend was spent pissing around up north of Dallas with AJ, the oddity yard list champion of central Texas (seriously- Long-eared Owl, Red-naped Sapsucker, and a Virginia Rail walking across the driveway, plus many, many more crazy yard birds).  Target bird was Red Crossbill, a good bird for Texas which has been rocking a pretty irruptive year; life bird for me, and Texas bird for AJ.  

Red Crossbills have been a bit irruptive into Texas this year.  This flock has been reliable for several weeks now.
Lighting wasn't the greatest, but I got some diagnostic shots, and we watched the flock for a good while.
These things are pretty damn cool.  Evolution is badass (sorry, Texas Board of Education).
We hunkered down to camp in the bitter cold on the first night at Lake Ray Roberts, bellies full of bourbon, and hit the Crossbill trail not long after sunup.  A bit anticlimactic, but we got the birds within the first two minutes of the trail, initially noticing the Red-breasted Nuthatches (another pretty good bird having an irruptive year), before hearing the pine cone munching crossbills.  After watching the crossbills for a bit, we checked out the lake and found a Common Loon and a couple Horned Grebes. 

Brown Creepers were pretty easy to come by.
Kind of lost in the Crossbill hype, these Red-breasted Nuthatches are having a pretty good irruption of their own. 
White-throated Sparrow 
Dark-eyed Junco at the Hagerman feeder, where I tried really hard to turn a distant Red-tailed Hawk into a Rough-legged.
Harris's Sparrow - found a large flock mingling with some White-crowneds.
Winter Wren - AJ pulled this little dude out of nowhere.
These Cedar Waxwings were going back and forth from a pond to a tree.  We had well over 300 on one trail.
The rest of Saturday and most of Sunday was spent at Hagerman NWR, where we had 7 species of woodpecker in one area, as well as a few Harlan's Hawks, White-breasted Nuthatch, and a good variety of sparrows.  Surprisingly absent were geese; we had hoped to stumble into large flocks of Snow and Ross's Geese, but we only had one Snow goose on the ground, and a flyover group of 9.  Total trip count was 87 or so.

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker - one of seven woodpecker species.  Gold star if you can guess all seven.
Pileated Woodpecker - we had two Pileated's on the weekend

Red-headed Woodpecker - turned out to be one of our favorite birds of the trip; not too many around Travis County.
These birds were harassing all the other woodpeckers. 
Snow Goose
Common Loon - I had to digiscope this bird.

1 comment:

  1. Epic waxwing shot! Congrats on the lifer, and damn, seven woodpecker species... Red-headed is a dream bird of mine, finally got Nuttall's this weekend though so pretty psyched on that.