Wildflowers, warblers, and snow
DUNCANVILLE, TEXAS — Today. It. Snowed. This is Texas. This is April. But today, the temperature is 30 degrees below normal, and frozen precipitation fell intermittently for several hours while I was birding.
“Snow” may be a generous term for what was happening. The frozen bits seemed to be tiny balls of ice all stuck together, rather than properly formed snowflakes, which require much colder temperatures. But forget the technicalities — it snowed!
At Cedar Ridge Preserve, I picked up common residents like cardinals and Carolina Wrens, and I encountered some mixed flocks that included Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, Carolina Chickadees, Ruby-crowned Kinglets, and Yellow-rumped Warblers. The Ruby-crowned Kinglets were singing their long, jittery songs, but I did not hear or see even one Golden-crowned Kinglet. Perhaps they have moved out?
I came across one flock that included dozens of Yellow-rumped Warblers. Most were in their brilliant summer colors: yellow, blue, black, and white. Some were singing. I could not find a single other warbler species in that swarm — but it was snowing, after all.
Snow or no snow, many gorgeous wildflowers are blooming now. This is some sort of spiderwort (Tradescantia sp.).
And this is a large-flowered, very showy Penstemon or beardtongue. Brian, my botanist buddy, left yesterday for Papua New Guinea. Now I don’t have anyone to help me with plants.
Some mammalian predator (I’m guessing a coyote) had feasted heavily on brightly colored Calosoma beetles, which have been running around the woods of late. All the hard, shiny parts passed right through unscathed.
This beauty is Mexican buckeye (Ungnadia speciosa), which approaches the eastern edge of its range here. I’ve put more photos of wildflowers, etc. in this week’s photo gallery.