Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Houston area hits and misses

As I sit here, battling a headache that cannot be soothed with a lovely glass of bourbon because I work at a children's hospital and have to take call in the off chance that something bad happens between the hours of 4:30pm and 11:00pm, I find myself wondering, as I have far too frequently in recent months, what the fuck am I doing looking at birds all the time?  Don't get me wrong; I love it. I'd much rather be looking at birds than doing just about anything else, but there have been a few times when I've been on out of town bird trips and caught myself thinking, "what the fuck is wrong with me?"  Why do I feel the need to be in some shitty hotel room in Brownsville, or up at 4:30am in Houston so I can spend the day trouncing around, ankle deep, in nasty, brackish water, just to hopefully see, or even hear some birds?  Am I really that different from someone who travels around to Magic tournaments?  I'm not posing this as a rhetorical question; I'm genuinely concerned.  I got out of work early today, and instead of going swimming at Barton Springs, or having a nice lunch at a place I would normally have to wait an hour to be seated on an evening, I spent the day driving around northeast Travis County trying to find a goddamn Prairie Falcon that has about a 10% chase success rate.  Not that it didn't turn into a good birding day, but seriously, should I really have to talk myself out of birding during every spare minute I have?  I don't have an answer.  Formulating hypothesis.

River Otter - lifer.  pretty badass to watch.
Red-tailed Hawk - doing its' best to ignore the red-headed nerder. 
Shitloads of Snow Geese, but couldn't pick out a Ross's.  Again.
My understanding is that Ross's haven't been as prevalent on the east side of Houston.
Tundra Swans - way back there.  Bad shot of good birds.
Anyways, I went to Houston last weekend for a family visit squeezed in between coastal birding.  I was about 50% on target birds, picking up Tundra Swans (great bird for Texas), King and Clapper Rails, and Seaside Sparrow.  Dips were Ross's Goose, Nelson's Sparrow, Glaucous Gull, and Greater Pewee (third try).  Didn't get pictures of anything crippling, but good times were had.  Yes, I have to admit, the best part was trudging in ankle deep water for Seaside Sparrow and Clapper Rail.  Goddamn.  Something's gone wrong.  

Black-bellied Plover - on Bolivar.  Shorebird numbers were pretty low.
Forster's Tern - the only tern of the trip. 
"Too close for missiles.  Switching to guns."
Laughing Gull - resident trash bird, but I like them.
Herring Gull - Saw a few on the Texas City Dike; oddly enough not a year bird.  Had one in Travis County last month.
Apparently, I'm pretty good at getting photos of birds taking a dump.   
Common Loons - on the Texas City Dike.  Word has it there is a Pacific Loon around, but I could never find it.
Red-breasted Merganser - Avipunk. 
This is my niece.  She's a shitload of fun to hang out with and I love her to death, but you can see that she doesn't yet possess the lurking skills of a birder.  All in due time, my dear.