Today was overcast and a little on the cool side. But at least it wasn’t raining. So it was a good day to go for a drive in the country. I still need Aplomado Falcon for my life list. And there is an area not far from here that is known for Aplomado Falcon sightings. Actually, I believe that I did see one last year, but it was a long ways off, and I want to get a better look before I check it off on my list. So I need to see one. Unfortunately, today was not the day. However, driving the back-roads in the vicinity of Laguna Atascosa, ranks pretty high on my list of fun things to do.
There are ponds and small lakes everywhere, with Gadwall, American Wigeon, a Redhead, Pied-billed Grebe. Great, Snowy and Cattle Egrets put in an appearance. A Roseate Spoonbill flew overhead, fairly high. There are hundreds (perhaps 1,000’s) of Sandhill Cranes at Laguna Atascosa. Two separate flocks went by in the distance. American Kestrels are everywhere, as are Loggerhead Shrikes. Northern Harriers were hunting over the fields. An interesting hawk was circling high overhead. When I checked my field guide, the only thing I could find that came close was a dark phase, Swainson’s Hawk. But according to the map, we are a little far too east for wintering Swainson’s. But who knows!! Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs kept flying up from the water that lay in the low areas along side the road. Mourning Doves were on the wires. Crested Caracaras were found in several locations. Great-tailed Grackles are everywhere. An interesting sight today was at least 25 Lark Sparrows sitting on the deadish fronds (is that even a word??) of a shortish palm tree. (Wow – that is some sentence) Meadowlarks are very common in this area. I was told last year that when you see large groupings of Meadowlarks, they are Westerns. And when you see single birds, or maybe a couple together, they are Easterns. All of the daily sightings coming out of Laguna Atascosa list only Easterns. A covey of Northern Bobwhite scurried off into the brush. There was flock of smallish birds flying over the field stubble. When I saw them in flight, I first thought longspurs. But when I saw them walking amongst the stubble, they were bobbing their tails continuously as they walked along. Sprague’s Pipits winter in this area, too. But they are not as common as American Pipits. And I have yet to see a Sprague’s. It is on my hit list.