Monday, July 1, 2013

Doldrums.........MOUNTAIN LION!!! (no photos, sorry)

So, here's how you tell the difference between a birder and a birdwatcher.  It's been at least 105 degrees here for the last few days.  The migrants passed through awhile back and aren't really thinking of heading this way again for a little while longer.  Summering birds have mostly already bred and are now tending to their young.  The birdwatchers are staying in their living rooms, catching the occasional glimpse of a Black-chinned Hummingbird at the feeder.  The other avian appreciators, those sick, perverse masochists, are still out there, tromping through poison ivy, sweat pouring down their faces before 10 am, trudging away for the ever elusive mega.  These are the birders.  These are my people.
Noisy, noisy, noisy.  These young Scissor-tailed Flycatchers are currently hanging out in the parking lot at my hospital.
Priorities for this bird include getting food and not giving a shit about me and my camera.

Trips in the summer don't last very long, usually just hour long jaunts or scoping the Hornsby ponds from the comfort of an air-conditioned car.  Last week, as I was walking through the parking lot at work, I heard some frantic, kingbird like calling.  Ignoring my better sense, I started creeping between cars to get a better look at where the calling was coming from.  It didn't take long to find two very young Scissor-tailed Flycatchers waiting for breakfast.  I've been keeping an eye on them since then, and even pulled out the camera a few times, sacrificing what little dignity I had left in the eyes of my coworkers.

Bank Swallow - I only had one last year, but there have been a few hanging out on Platt Lane near Hornsby.
Common Nighthawk - Some people have gulls, others have sandpipers.  Me, I'm completely obsessed with nightjars.
Great-tailed Grackle - this is a bird that gets no love from anybody, but you've got to give him credit.  He's a fucking survivor and master at adaptation.
Acadian Flycatcher - Got a nice tip on a breeding pair, and was able to hear the male call quite a bit.  Thanks again, Kenny.
This past Saturday, I hit a couple of Travis county parks, mainly for Acadian Flycatcher and Yellow-throated Vireo.  Around 7:15am, as I was birding in Reimers Ranch, I heard something flush from a tree behind me.  I tried to see what had made the noise, and assumed it was most likely a bobcat after not seeing anything in the sky.  I wrote it off and continued birding until something caught the corner of my eye a couple minutes later.  I whipped around and got my bins, out of focus, on what looked like a doe.  In the 4 seconds or so it took me to focus, I began realizing that the head and ear shape were off for deer, and that it was trotting away from me in the same way that my cats do at home.  All the pieces came together for me just as my life mountain lion disappeared from view.  Yep, that's right.  Not the best look, but it was totally a fucking mountain lion.  I went looking for it, maybe not the best idea I've ever had (as was not so subtly pointed out to me later by my girlfriend), but was unsuccessful.  As I retold the story, all of my non-birder friends called me crazy for trying to re-find the lion.  All of my birder friends were incredibly jealous and completely understanding of my no hesitation response in trying to get a better view of my life mountain lion.  That shit should tell you something.

Yellow-throated Vireo - it has become almost impossible to pick up year birds lately, so I was very grateful to see a few of these birds at Hamilton Pool.
Northern Parula - There were a couple territories at Hamilton Pool, both with very vocal birds.

Inca Dove - I've never had the greatest yard list, but I'm always excited to see these birds out my window.