My Montana

My Montana
My Montana

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Choke Canyon Critters

For many years, I've  spent the third weekend of February in Choke Canyon State Park.  This park, located just outside of Three Rivers, Texas, is is on the confluence of western, eastern, and Mexican habitats. It is the westernmost place to find the American alligator, has western birds such as pyrrhuloxia, olive-sided sparrow, and Harris hawks. It has eastern birds such as the eastern phoebe, eastern bluebirds, and robins. It has lots of duck species and even birds we think of as coastal birds like the tri-colored heron.  And it has Mexican specialties like the Audubon's oriole, green jays, Kiskadees and crested caracaras. 

I arrived at site 107 about 4:00 PM and immediately took out an orange, cut it in half, and hung each half on tree branches.  Within seconds, I had Audubon's oriole, golden-fronted woodpeckers, and green jays all feeding on the oranges. I unpacked my seeds and put them in little hollows in tree trunks and just a few in front of a little log.  I  got my hammock hung and then sent a large part of each afternoon in it watching the birds in my camp.

My bird blind.  The next eight  pictures were taken from here or a few feet away. 

 By the next morning, Site 107 was the place to be.  I invited people with binoculars to come see our array of birds. We went off to see other birds and came back to find the camp full of friendly strangers, still enjoying the antics of our birds.

Pine Warbler

Audubon's Oriole

Orange-crowned warbler

Golden-fronted woodpecker

Green jay, Audubon's oriole and cardinals

Olive-sided sparrow, a target species here
Green Jay
A green jay provided a good bird story.  It was early afternoon and the other birds had all disappeared for their afternoon nap. A green jay flew in and checked the little dip in the leaning tree where I had put sunflower seeds.  He hopped closer to me and said RAK, RAK, RAK, RAK, RAK,.  I just looked at him so he said, an octave higher, RAK, RAK, RAK, RAK, RAK.  So I got up and put the sunflower seeds in the tree.  He immediately went and got a seed and said,  Puhrr. ( a soft little purring noise).  I felt well trained.

I also walked and drove around and saw lots more birds but only got photographs of a few of them.

Crested Caracara

Rio Grande turkeys

Couch's Kingbird

Mottled ducks

White ibis

White pelicans and coots

This is a wonderful place to bird at all seasons. And they sometimes have rarities here.  Last year they had the pine flycatcher and the northern jacana..

Northern Jacana - this was a rarity from Mexico that spent several months here. 

And in the spring through fall, it is also a wonderful place to enjoy butterflies.  We go there to paddle the Frio as well, but this year, access was closed.  Lots of fishing goes on in the reservoir and there are lots of roads for bike riding. Altogether, a wonderful place.