Texas Travel Diary|
6 April 2003
Say what you like about Texas and Texans, it's a wonderful place to be in
springtime. Today I'm at Neal's Lodges, 75 miles west of San Antonio. The
drive here took me through the Hill Country at the peak flowering time for Indian
Paintbrush and of course Bluebonnets. Acres of them. Miles and miles of them.
Here we find Southwestern "replacement" species for the
familiar Eastern ones: Curve-billed for Brown Thrasher, White-winged for Mourning
Dove, Lesser for American Goldfinch. The best place to see and photograph them is at
bird sanctuaries (feeding stations) maintained by spring resident
ornithologist June Osborne, who has written an excellent book on finding birds of the
8 April 2003
A bird doesn't need gaudy colors to charm a bird photographer. One of my favorites at the station is the Black-throated Sparrow. I've admired them from a distance in the Arizona desert, but here they're very tame, flying down to within 10 feet of me to feed on the ground. In fact this is quite a hangout for sparrows. Along with Black-throated we have Field, Chipping, and Vesper Sparrows. The Black-crested race of Tufted Titmouse is a regular, and Pyrrhuloxias as well as Northern Cardinals are drawn to the grain. Occasionally a Sharp-shinned Hawk in turn is drawn to the birds, which of course breaks up the party.