Saturday, April 17, 2010

Back in Austin Again

It is Saturday morning here in Austin, and I am getting a bit slower start than normal--I actually slept until 7 AM. Last nite I had a good time socializing with old friends, drinking lots of interesting wines, and eating a lovely meal of salmon, sugar snaps and rice with a bit of coconut milk added to it. This morning before hitting the road again I will be eating at one of my favorite taquerias--Gueros.

Yesterday morning before making the long drive back to Austin from Marfa, I stopped in at the Davis Mountains SP to see if the montezuma quail were coming into the feeding station. It was chilly but sunny, and several bird species were enjoying the seed being offered. The top picture is of a chipping sparrow (left side) and a rufous-crowned sparrow (right side). While both birds have a rusty cap, notice that the one on the right has markings on its throat called malars. Also the rufous-crowned is a bit bigger bird.

After about 30 minutes a pair of montezuma quail walked into the feeding station, and began to scratch up the rocks to find seed and bugs. Their claws and feet are very strong so they can move some pretty good sized stones. Because they are constantly scratching, the photos of them are not as sharp as I would have liked. The middle picture is of the front of the male, and the bottom picture has both the male and female in it. Notice how well the female blends into the landscape around it. This quail used to be named the harlequin quail I assume because of its face markings, but a few years back its name was changed to montezuma. Every now and then a bird will be renamed, but often you don't know why exactly.

While sitting watching the birds feed I had the chance to talk to another birder from Washington state. He is very knowledgeable about birds in his area including winter visitors like great gray owl and gyrfalcon. I am looking forward to the possibility of joining him this December to do some birding in Washington.

The first day of week #16 ended with 25 bird species seen, and the montezuma and rufous-crowned were both new birds for the year, so the YTD total is now 472. I am off to an area west of Houston today to scan the rice fields for migrating shore birds. Stay tuned!

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