Recent birds: Ladder-backed Woodpecker and siskins
DUNCANVILLE, TEXAS — December has been warm. It was 80 degrees on Friday, and Saturday was nearly as hot. I’ve managed a few short birding trips over the last few days, and I’ve seen some good birds.
Monday, I nearly froze during a picnic lunch at Cedar Hill State Park — a cold front had briefly invaded, dropping temperatures into the 30s. A Forster’s Tern fed over the water, calling occasionally. A White-winged Dove fluttered around in the mesquite trees — surprising only because I usually see them in cities and suburbs this far north.
Several dozen Pine Siskins fed in the trees, calling and flitting around.
I had seen them a week earlier, on Monday the third, when I made a morning visit to the park. They are hanging out with House Finches and goldfinches, feeding on sunflower and ragweed heads and, apparently, hackberry fruits. I haven’t been able to spot any Purple Finches or, ahem, redpolls among the flock.
Harris’s Sparrows are present, vocal, and looking fine — oh yes.
Also on the third, I had a male Ladder-backed Woodpecker feeding in the mesquite brush at Joe Pool dam. I had heard that the species ranges as far east as Dallas County, but it was my first encounter with the species here. I was pretty excited. His crest caught the sun and practically glowed. Nice.
Saturday, I birded roads south of Wilmer in southern Dallas County, where I found a few Brewer’s Blackbirds and Eurasian Collared Doves.
Farther south, around Bardwell Lake west of Ennis, I had about 100 white pelicans, several Forster’s Terns, and a flock of about 40 American Pipits. Despite walking several grassy areas, I didn’t find any longspurs or Sprague’s Pipits, but I did do pretty well with sparrows: Swamp (gorgeous), Lincoln’s (exquisite), Song, Savannah, White-crowned, Harris’s, and Field.
Today was wet, warm, and muggy. I watched a gull fly past my office window. I think it’s supposed to get colder again overnight — please!