Tuesday, January 19, 2010
Number 250 - Mountain Plover or should I say 69 Moutain Plovers!
This morning it was perfectly clear unlike the total fog-in yesterday. However, the tent was still covered with dew and this was getaway day. So...John folded up the tent inside the tent fly and put it all in the back seat for a later drying session. We were on the road before sunrise and reached our first stop at Zapata quickly with relatively little traffic on the highway. However, the result at the pond next to the library was the same as yesterday's - namely no seedeater. So we drowned our sorrows in a mexican breakfast (huevos rancheros) and headed to our last hope for the seedeater in Laredo. On the way we saw our only Chihuahuan Ravens of the trip. The ravens go south during the winter. The Laredo location for the seedeater is the Lamar-Bruni-Vergara Environmental Science Center, a relatively new project on the Rio Grande River. We checked in, got a map, and headed for the river area. We weren't having much luck until we ran into Prof, Jim Earhart from the local community college who is working on a project of finding an alternative to having all the shoreline vegetation removed by the US Border Patrol - an interesting challenge. If he is not successful, the future of the seedeater at the Laredo site is limited. He was not a birder, but knew a person, Penny Warren, who was. We called her and she gave us directions to the best location. Sure enough! With a little work we popped up a bird in immature plumage and accomplished it before noon. (web photo very similar to our bird) We tried to get out of town, but the community college had just had a class change which trapped us for half an hour. Eventually we were underway heading north toward San Antonio. We had been given information on the location of some Mountain Plovers on a sod farm south of San Antonio in Frio County by Dwight Peake, the son of Dick Peake, who had helped us in Galveston a week earlier. We found the location, and among the pipits and Horned Larks were 69 Mountain Plovers, a lifebird for John and number 250 for the year (web photo). Back in the car and heading north, we visited a spot where Harris's Sparrows were known to occur. We got there a little late in the day, so we decided to try again tomorrow and went to a nearby motel where we spread out the tent in our room to dry, cleaned up, and went to a German restaurant next door. There is a large German population in central Texas. In fact one of John's cousins lives nearby. The species total is now 251.