East, west, and dust
DUNCANVILLE, TEXAS — It is difficult to express how completely the world changes between Dallas and Tyler. Towering pines, rich in color and scent, contrast with gnarled mesquite and thorns. The change in bird life is more subtle but just as real.
I heard Pine Warblers trilling in the trees just east of Tyler, and with more time or better luck I could have had Brown-headed Nuthatches too. Great-tailed Grackles, on the other hand, were absent from the parking lots in town.
Disappearing into the pines, a road tempted me to round the next bend, and the next…. Tufted Titmice sang, and woodpeckers called.
I spent the afternoon with Jason, my college birding confrere, and his family. Late in the day, I headed west again and discovered that the winds had altered the sky.
Powerful winds carried dust from the Panhandle to blot out the sun, reduce visibility, and color the sky a surreal brown. The dust cloud spanned hundreds of miles and showed up on satellite images. Here, the dust obscures Lake Tawakoni. I, uh, didn’t get any water birds there.
The East Central Texas Forests form a narrow transition zone between the pine forests to the east and what used to be the Blackland prairies. I’ve been looking for ways to explore these deciduous woodlands, but there seems to be very little public land, at least in the northern part of the ecoregion.