A hungry Osprey

2005 March 26
by David J. Ringer

EAST TEXAS — I got nice looks at gnatcatchers today. It was a pair low in the bushes; they flitted back and forth and up and down. The male looked ferocious with his black unibrow. Kingbirds are back too.

I met Jason out on CR 254. I needed to pick up an extra pair of binoculars from him, and he also showed me pictures from his recent trip to the Valley … Elegant Trogon, Crimson-collared Grosbeak, ani, jays, etc. Argh.

It was cool and overcast — in the mid 50s, actually, with a steady breeze. Yes, that’s 25 degrees colder than it was yesterday. The joke goes that if you don’t like the weather here, just wait a couple hours. It’ll change.

We birded the area. It was fairly quiet, though we discovered some activity up the road at a Baptist church. Two Hermit Thrushes hopped around on the road among a smattering of juncos. We got to see a Brown-headed Nuthatch working the tops of catkin-draped oaks. It gave its rubber ducky call occasionally. I really like those little birds.

An Osprey hovered over a pond on 782. It swooped over the water occasionally but never caught anything. Barn Swallows and one rough-winged swallow zipped over the field.

When the Osprey moved on, we turned our attention to the numerous sparrows moving around the field and hedgerow. Most were Savannahs, but one bird’s white eye ring and auricular frame caught my attention: Vesper Sparrow. I had completely forgotten even to look for them. The white outer tail feathers flashed in flight.

A yellowlegs flew over the pond calling loudly. I discovered I’d forgotten which call is long and loud and which is short and soft. A quick consultation with my Sibley solved the problem. Of course: greater is long and loud. Each spring, I find myself having to relearn songs and calls. But each spring, I learn them faster and find that there’re fewer I’ve actually forgotten. Maybe I’m actually making progress!

At lunch, a mockingbird chased a robin into a window of the cafeteria. Several people gathered to look at the stunned cock. He looked all right, just dazed. It was kind of nice to have engineers and computer geeks looking at a bird for once, but the circumstances were unfortunate.

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