Thursday, November 27, 2008

These Boots Were Made For Walkin'...(all day, in circles)

Monday, November 17th, 2008

I was easily on the road before sunrise which was very good as I had a solid two hours of driving to get to Zapata. The final hour of the drive was during sunrise. Sunrise in south Texas is an awesome thing.

Why Zapata? As fate would have it, the grasssd behind the Library are one of the most reliable places for White-collared Seedeater in the United States. San Ygnacio was basically underwater and sites in Laredo are simply not as good. All sources told me to go to Zapata. Walk around the pond, check the grasses and, with a bit of luck, you should get one.

After a chilly start, I easily walked 12 laps around the pond over 6 hours (the trial around the pond is a good one-third of a mile). No luck. I had Orange-crowned Warblers out my wazoo and I was beginning to know the Lincoln's Sparrows by name (Abe was always the most obliging), but no seedeaters. Not one. It only takes one, but it didn't happen.

For my efforts, I did get an Audubon's Oriole. That was another target bird of the trip. #622. I had another spot for them, but it is always nice to get something sooner than expecetd.

So, after some thought and need for a change in scenery, I sped off to the feeder station at Salineno. Basically, some kind folks live in a RV a few hundred feet off the Rio Grande River and let you check out the birds at the feeder. It was also a great place for a river watch. Who knows what can zip past you on the Rio Grande. Green Kingfishers were tooling around, but Muscovy were not to be had. Gray Hawk zipped down the shoreline. I was treated toa fly-by of a Red-billed Pigeon (#623), a very tough bird to get in the fall (so the books say), but some had been seen in the area for a few days. Also, another Audubon's Oriole was very accommodating. I was prepared to hang there until I could no longer see, but a fellow, his son (maybe eight years old?) and thier gun was enough to make me move along before sunset.

Big decision time. Option #1 - Head back to Zapata for the night and spend more time tomorrow looking for seedeaters. Option #2 - Screw the seedeaters and move along.

Option #2 was it. I spent the night in Mission. Dinner was at Pizza Hut where I pondered how it is that Budweiser ever became the King of Beers...

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