Tuesday, May 22, 2012

A Texas Detour

By Cory Ritter

The next stop on my trip from California to Michigan was in Austin, TX. I went to visit my good friends Steph and Bailey, and I looked around for some birds while I was there. I didn't have anything in mind before I arrived; I just figured I'd check what had been recently sighted when I got there. I quickly formed a list of recently sighted birds I wanted to try to check out: White-tailed Hawk, Green Kingfisher, Golden-fronted Woodpecker, Black-crested Titmouse, Greater Roadrunner, Crested Caracara, Northern Bobwhite, and Pyrrhuloxia rounded out my list.

My first stop on my rounds was at Commons Ford Ranch Metropolitan Park. Golden-fronted Woodpecker, Northern Bobwhite and Greater Roadrunner had all been seen within days from when I arrived, but I struck out on all three. I did, however, encounter my lifer Ladder-backed Woodpecker, along with my year Red-bellied Woodpecker, Carolina Chickadee, and Carolina Wren. Also, I ran into what I originally thought was a Black-crested Titmouse, but it appears it may actually be a Black-crested x Tufted Titmouse.
Ladder-backed Woodpecker, Commons Ford Ranch Metropolitan Park, Austin, TX
Black-crested [x Tufted] Titmouse, Commons Ford Ranch Metropolitan Park, Austin, TX

Next I headed east to the outer limits of Austin. I went to check two spots; a small town called Utley for a recently reported White-tailed Hawk, and nearby Webberville Park for Green Kingfisher, Pyrrhuloxia, and Crested Caracara. My first stop, in Utley, was unproductive. I was going off an eBird report, and didn't have any solid information on where to find this bird, so I wasn't too surprised when my search came up empty. Either way, Webberville Park was just down the road, and I had some more birds to look for.

When I arrived at Webberville Park, I was really excited about the reported Green Kingfisher, so I started hiking along the river and there it was......nope, a Belted Kingfisher. There were plenty of Northern Cardinals, Ruby-crowned Kinglets, and American Robins. But, again, I struck out on my target birds. But, on my way out of the park I was treated to a close Greater Roadrunner. It wasn't until later that I realized I had a big thumb print on my lens, so the photo could have been better.
Greater Roadrunner, Webberville Park, Travis County, TX
I made one more stop up the road at another river access point in one last desperation attempt at the Green Kingfisher. I wasn't able to find a kingfisher, but as soon as I parked alongside the river, a Crested Caracara flew over my car! This was certainly an unexpected yet welcomed treat. Also, there was a Vesper Sparrow hopping around in the grass just a short distance from my car.

1 comment:

  1. Cheers and beers for new birds!

    The Roadrunner is a mighty fine one--a jaw-dropping bird every time, even out here in the desert where they're pretty common.