Thursday is my usual day for the bird surveys on the refuge, and I headed out this morning to try to get them in before the approaching latest ‘Polar Vortex’ arrives. The Houston area is in a tizzy about the possibility of freezing rain and temps in the 20’s overnight. Many school districts have already cancelled school for tomorrow. Being from the north, it sometimes makes me chuckle. No school because there might be 1/10” of ice and some freezing rain? Up north I remember school only closing if there was over a half a foot of snow or wind chills below –40* F.
Anyway, on my drive to the refuge this morning I once again came across that perplexing, to me, raptor that I encountered a week ago. I had a more satisfying view of it today, and just like last week it posed for me.
This time I could definitely see that its wing feathers were longer than its tail feathers. The white spot on its upper chest was also more defined.
A couple of commenters last week suggested it might be a juvenile White-tailed Hawk, and I have to agree. While these aren’t the best photos, they sure did help me for ID confirmation. Anahuac is on the northeast edge of its range. This bird will look a whole lot different in a year or two.
I’m enjoying noticing the differences each week in the plots that I survey. Last week a bald eagle was sitting in the middle of one of the areas, and the usual mallards that I find there were no where to be seen. This week, the mallards were back. I’ve also noticed a big influx of shorebirds in one of the areas this week. Could it be that the lengthening days are making some species experience the first inklings of hitch itch to head north?
My young friend, the juvenile black-crowned night heron, was in its usual location. It looks so small here, but is really about 25” long. At this stage, it has great camouflage for its life among the reeds.
On my way back to the VIS for a bathroom break, I noticed a lump in the gravel road. I slowed down, and found that lump to be an American bittern.
First time I’ve ever seen one in the middle of the road. They kind of skulk along when they walk rather than standing up straight.
It was a pretty good bird day for me, but the highlight of the day came while I was scanning one of the survey plots with my spotting scope. I was mesmerized as I got to witness an adult Peregrine Falcon taking a bath in one of the moist soil units! Now that’s a day to remember! It was too far away for any photos, but I’ll never forget the experience.
I only got five of my seven survey areas done today, as I had to go to Anahuac for a physical therapy appointment. The PT lady put me through quite a work out that I’m sure I’ll feel tomorrow, but it sure beats surgery. So far, so good.
With the temps forecasted in those 20’s overnight, I turned off the water to the rig when I got home after putting some more water into my on board tank. Then I got an email from Stephanie telling the volunteers not to do any work tomorrow until the temps increase. Guess she doesn’t want any of us seniors slipping and falling down where we can’t get up!
Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later, Judy