Linda’s Big Day–55!

Oh my, I’m still exhausted, 24 hours later! Yesterday Gary and I spent the entire (and by “entire” I mean a 13-hour outing which included an early breakfast and a late dinner) day birding with a couple of pros, Johannes and Sharon Merz, colleagues of ours who live and work in Benin, West Africa.

It started with Gary (!) cooking BBQ breakfast for us at Cedar Hill State Park while I went off with Johannes and Sharon. Sharon was like a kid in a candy shop since she had never been birdwatching here before and all the commonest species were lifers for her.

A few feet from the picnic table Johannes spotted a Ladder-backed Woodpecker, but I didn’t believe him since they aren’t listed this far east. But I looked, and sure enough, it was true. He got a photo but I didn’t–I was too busy trying to keep Gary from burning the bacon. When I listed it on eBird, it made me call it a rarity!

The we left Gary to clean up and off we went again in the opposite direction, then a hike to the duck pond, then the south end of the park, and don’t forget the obligatory photo in the bluebonnets:

Next was a drive to west Arlington for a short stop at Legacy River Park, and then on to a birder’s paradise–sewer drying ponds.

We drove slowly on the narrow roads, stopping frequently, walking around with binoculars and scopes, and finding lots and lots of birds. Johannes and Sharon were really good at spotting different birds, and lots of times I’d miss things they they would readily see. Yikes–I’d like to blame it on my inferior equipment, but more likely on my inexperience! In the end, I saw 41 species at the drying beds and they saw about 4 additional, including a Wilson’s Snipe–I thought Snipes were imaginary!!

Here are a few crummy photos of some of the more unusual things we saw:

Pectoral Sandpiper

two Least Sandpipers

Spotted Sandpiper, non-breeding plumage with turtle!

Krider's Red-tailed Hawk, a white subspecies

We drove out of the ponds at 4:30pm so we wouldn’t get locked in, but, not to be deterred, we drove to the adjacent city park and crawled through a fence to get back in on foot and spend another hour or so!
Finally we headed back home, and ended the day with dinner at my favorite place. While there we reviewed our lists with each other for accuracy–it is easy to forget to write down the common species in the rush to write down the more exotic ones.

Then I came home and added my checklists to eBird. Here are the results: I saw 25 species at Cedar Hill State Park and 41 at the Drying ponds. Combining these two lists plus adding a few additional birds while driving gave me a total of 55 birds in one very long day.


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