Merlins on wires and gulls in the sky

2008 October 29
by David J. Ringer

DUNCANVILLE, TEXAS — It’s a beautiful October day in north Texas. I can’t find a cloud anywhere in the sky. My sweatshirt is a little too warm if I stand out on the sun. Franklin’s Gulls are passing through, brilliant white against the blue of the sky, and there are wigeons on the lake.

Oh, well, you caught me. I was out running errands and stopped by Joe Pool. Didn’t really have time, but sanity has to count for something. And I figured the exercise couldn’t hurt me either. I was hoping for juncos or Harris’s Sparrows, but they are late migrants, and they aren’t back yet. They will be here in November.

Winged elms have begun to change in earnest now; most are yellow-green or golden brown. It’s supposed to reach the 80s again at the weekend, but by then, I’ll be in another hemisphere. Yes, more adventures coming soon for me, so stay tuned.


Robins, which are scarce here during the summer, are moving through again. I noticed pale fringes on their ruddy breast feathers, which I think means that the feathers are fresh.


I’ve discussed with some birding friends whether a small falcon perched on a wire can be assumed to be kestrel. This photo provides proof: no. Merlins will perch on wires too, and I noticed that when this bird landed, it did bob its tail a bit, though not as long or as emphatically as a kestrel does. Perhaps it’s some sort of balancing routine?


Around here, the fox squirrels are always dressed in autumnal colors. They’re busy now carrying acorns here and there.


I was impressed by this Phidippus jumping spider’s metallic green chelicerae.


Some colleagues who work in Mexico were here and wanted to go birding, so we went over to east Texas. At Caddo Lake, the cypress trees had started to turn, and winter birds like kinglets, Blue-headed Vireos, sapsuckers, and Winter Wrens had returned. At Martin Creek Lake in Rusk County, we saw an alligator snapping turtle (a lifer for me), which compared to a nearby Snowy Egret looked absolutely huge!

My 2008 year list stands at 690 species as I prepare to leave the country again. I’m hoping to break 700 next week! That would certainly be my biggest year total ever. We’ll see how it goes.

Related posts:

  1. Migrants and gi-normous spider colonies
  2. Chilly evening on the dam
  3. Joe Pool waders, etc.
  4. Brown Pelicans in Dallas County!
  5. The Case of the Missing Binoculars
2 Responses
  1. October 29, 2008

    I don’t think I’ve personally ever seen a merlin on a wire, telephone pole yes, but not a wire. I will need to look more closely at the kestrels now.

    Cool spider! I saw an alligator snapper in Busch Gardens in VA, but I think it was technically captive. There was a boardwalk in the middle of the park and this thing rose out of the water. Quita a surprise!

    Looking forward to hearing about your next adventure.

  2. November 2, 2008

    oh i just want to tell you i simply love your blog. This is as absolutely amazing and beautiful and blog one can learn a lot from. I love birds of course, but can see almost only pigeons where I live, in a big city Budapest, Hungary. sometimes i take my binoculars to the big park and look for “rare” birds, but do not really know how it is called if i see one. :-) At present I have a canary and a pair of red-throated parrot-finches at home and was happy when i saw your photo in one of the posts of these finches at their original habitat, New Caledonia. My pet birds photos are here in my blog:
    best regards Endre

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