Sunday, February 26, 2006

Beautiful day for a field trip!

Well Saturday was the complete pits, but Sunday turned out to be an outstanding day, weather-wise. The Piersons offered to go with me to the spot where Winston saw some interesting sparrows, so we set off for a field on S. Choctaw. It's a wide-open area near an Entergy facility, and obviously bush-hogged regularly or the growth would be much more significant. It was almost marshy -- lots of grasses and brambles (going to be lots of berries there a few weeks!) and uneven ground. Rubber boots and careful eye fact, I was glad it was not warmer weather because I kept thinking "snake" as we were making our way.

I saw a Red-Headed Woodpecker first thing out of the box! First one I've seen all winter. A couple of Mockers and Shrikes were hunting and tussling from the fence. We were here to find sparrows though, so we set out to find them. We walked, listened, and did not see a thing except hawks and vultures in the distance. I heard something calling, but could not find it. Finally I flushed a "LBJ" and we tried to close in on it, but it eluded us. Bob and I both got the impression of "wren" but we couldn't be sure, and it made no sound.

A bit later we did see a couple of sparrows that hid in the shrubbery and we id'd them as swamp sparrows. Since there wasn't much to see in this location, we decided to head to St. Gabriel to go Snipe hunting.

On hwy 30 (Nicholson) just as you cross the parish line from the north, there is a hardware store on left near a sheriff's substation. Behind these buildings are two grassy, marshy open area and a fenced area of shrubby growth. We immediately saw a pair of Mockers and Shrikes--this was the day for them. We started out in the grassy field and immediately spotted several Killdeer and then suddenly SNIPE! They popped up as they were startled out of the grass and surprised us, too. Their camouflage was one point I came within 15 feet of one that I did not even see until it flew. I know I didn't get any good pictures but got great looks! We also saw a group of about 8 or 9 Eastern Meadowlarks in the same area. They were almost as leery and hard to photograph.

We made our way back to the edge of the shrubby area and found a small flock of White-Crowned Sparrows working the edge of the fence. I managed to get within 10-12 ft or so so the pictures should be fairly decent.

We detoured out Ben Hur road to see what we could see. Found significant flocks of Chipping Sparrows, Savannah Sparrows, and blackbirds (Cowbirds, Starlings, RWBB) and the occasional wader (Cattle, Great, Snowy Egrets). Lots and lots of hawks (90% chance of Red-Tailed :-) ), several vultures and a few Kestrels. No Pipits this time, which was unusual considering their abundance just last weekend.

All in all, a good birding day and I added 5 birds to my List :-)

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