Sunrise over Lower Red Rock Lake

Sunrise over Lower Red Rock Lake
Sunrise over Lower Red Rock Lake

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Christmas Bird Count on the Trinity River

My friend, Bruce, recruited me to paddle Thursday for another Christmas Bird Count - this one on the Trinity River for 19.5 miles.  The sullen sun made a brief appearance before going back to bed and pulling up his cloudy covers.  The day stayed cold and we had a light misty rain on us a few times.

Dawn sky

Looking upstream from take-out on Hwy. 105

Bruce Unloading


And carrying his kayak down the steep put-in

Bruce marking our sightings before leaving
 But we had some wonderful birds.  While waiting for Bruce at the take-out, I got bluebirds, titmice, chickadees, crows, cormorants, a great blue heron and a flock of cedar waxwings. By the time we were ready to leave from the put-in, we had added another twenty species, including a red-breasted nutcracker, orange-crowned warbler, three species of woodpeckers, and a golden crowned kinglet. But our count on the water slowed way down and we missed several species we usually see.  We did have a record number of pileated woodpeckers - I think twelve or more - and a huge number of anhingas. And we saw four eagles. The best species, though, were two little green herons.  They are almost never still here for the Christmas count.

Two year old bald eagle

Wilson's snipe feeding at water's edge

We followed the current from high bank to high bank

Except when we needed to take a break on a sand bar

We got to the restaurant about six to find no one there. Upon questioning the staff, we learned that the group had already finished supper and left. At this point, Bruce decided he wasn't sure if the count leader even knew we had been counting. (We just start at the river since we have to paddle so hard as it is to make it to the take-out.  Today we averaged almost four miles and hour when we were underway and still got back only about two hours before dark.) But  Bruce called the count leader and told him our best birds.  We found the entire count besides us had only found 75 species and we learned that we had added at least five species to the count.

View from under the bridge at the take-out on Hwy 105
So this was another day well spent and yet another example of the adage: any day spent outside is a good day. Friday morning I have to make cupcakes, clean up my boat, boots, and dry bags, then pack up my food and go to meet the guys I'm riding with whom Louisiana.  Hopefully, I'll get in a nap during the four hour drive before paddling for three days in the Atachfalaya Swamp.

So have a great New Year's celebration and a wonderful, lucky 2013. I'll see you next year. Hope you tell me some of your fun doings from the Holiday Season in the comments. And I'll be looking forward to reading your blogs.