Coy mistress Spring
DUNCANVILLE, TEXAS — Spring is coming to Texas, but tentatively, like a demure beauty too shy to step quickly through the door.
Saturday morning was chilly; a strong northwest wind made walking the Joe Pool Dam miserable and fruitless. My friends Fjord and Spence were with me, and after just a few minutes of the misery, we decided to retreat.
From the parking area, we watched a female Downy Woodpecker drumming on a dead limb, and I heard snatches of Ruby-crowned Kinglet’s song — two more signs of spring. I glimpsed a handful of wigeons and Blue-winged Teal in fine breeding plumage, but they took flight before Spence and Fjord got on them.
At Cedar Ridge Preserve, Bewick’s Wrens sang everywhere, and a harrier made several passes overhead. We had a brief glimpse of the first Purple Martin I’d seen this year, and we found a few white anemones (Anemone berlandieri?) in flower. As usual, Fossil Valley Trail was not especially birdy but rewarded us with drifts of white trout lilies (mostly foliage).
A final stop at Duncanville’s Armstrong Park produced great looks at Monk Parakeets and Cedar Waxwings. These parakeets were preening each other, a behavior known as allopreening. The park and nearby streets and parking lots certainly seem like the place to go if you want to see Monk Parakeets in Duncanville.
Sunday, I went back to Joe Pool after lunch. For the first time since December, I did not find a single duck on the lake — not even so much as a Mallard. The resident flock of Canvasbacks appears to have moved out, leaving only the coots and Pied-billed Grebes.
But it is the hellos, not the goodbyes, that we associate with spring. I watched several Purple Martins slicing through the air, their bodies glinting a deep, inscrutable color in warm sunshine. There were Barn Swallows too, the first of the year for me, and their flight again inspired me with awe.
The only other unusual sighting that day was a Red-shafted Flicker, a male with bright red marks on his face.
Not many of the native trees and shrubs are stirring yet. Forestiera pubescens adds splashes of color to the underbrush, and some sort of buckeye has begun leafing out. Ornamental oaks and Bradford pears are popping open all over town; the pears should be at their peak in another week. Evidently the mesquite trees, though, are in no hurry to break their long slumber.