Tales from the Climate Patch

by Allan Seils

On a warm Central Texas morning of clear skies, I conducted the spring bird survey of 12 locations within my designated 1-kilometer square area in SE Travis County.  This was done as part of the nationwide National Audubon Climate Watch Program.  Recent rains in May left lush vegetation everywhere.  Johnson grass stood up to 3-4 foot tall and along with other plants filled the roadside ditches.  Not easy to park at some survey points.  But hey, that’s why I drive a 4-wheel drive truck.

Best birds of the day were the Barn Owl, flock of Cattle Egrets and flying Cormorant.  Oh, and not to forget, the Red-shouldered Hawk that screeched in alarm as I approached and then flew away in disgust from its perch.

Among many good memories, the throbbing sound of a bird’s wings that flew from behind me up to my left.  Turning my head in response, I was face to bill with a hummingbird not more than 2 feet from me at eye level.  I looked at it and it looked at me than reversed course and flew in the direction of its origin.  A brief moment, but a vivid memory.

Other flora and fauna of note: a deer crossing the road (pictured left); a turtle in the road moving swiftly (Do turtles move swiftly?) to the roadside to avoid a dump truck; road-killed snake and a Cottontail rabbit.  Morning Glories and Nightshades amongst many other wild flowers of Texas.

On a personal note, my new hearing aids are amazing.  At each stop, I heard so many bird songs. In fact, a good portion of my bird sightings were “Heard only” rather than visual.  Sadly, many of the bird songs evaded identification.  I never experienced hearing them in the field.  I guess I will have to sign up for the next Travis Audubon Society birding by sound class.  So much to learn.

 

If you would like to know more about this community science program, click here or contact Caley Zuzula at caley@travisaudubon.org