Archivos de diario de enero 2016

06 de enero de 2016

iNatting in the Texas Panhandle in Winter!

The Texas Panhandle in winter can be very cold and very windy. The landscape is mostly flat and some would say boring. Most of the region is grasslands and/or croplands. There are few towns or cities and you can find yourself in very remote areas where you won’t see another vehicle or person for long periods of time. You can be hit by an unexpected blizzard or storm. I love it!

For naturalists, especially folks interested in Texas bird populations and distribution, the Texas Panhandle in winter is an area of the state unlike any other. Species we usually consider more northern or western in distribution can be in the Panhandle in winter. Ferruginous Hawks are common. Rough-legged Hawks, while not as common as Ferruginous Hawks, are still much in evidence. Northern Shrike, American Tree Sparrow, and other species occur in the Panhandle more than any other part of the state. Other raptors such as Golden Eagle, Prairie Falcon, and Merlin are regularly seen as are, of course, Red-tailed Hawks.

I have been making birding and nature trips to the Panhandle since the late 1970s. I suspect I have made 20 or more trips to this area of Texas over the years. Some of these trips are with friends such as @gcwarbler (our first winter trip together to the Panhandle was in 1978 when I saw my first Mountain Bluebird, American Tree Sparrow, and Northern Shrike), but many times I venture off on the trip alone, like right now. The northern most 25 or so counties in the Panhandle are more or less square shaped and of similar size. Most roads, both paved and unpaved, typically run east and west and north and south and are as straight as an arrow. While there are busily travelled highways, there are also very remote and seldom travelled dirt roads that go for miles near the Texas/Oklahoma border area. I just love wandering these roads watching for raptors perched on fence posts or telephone poles, then trying to get photos when the bird leaves its perch as I drive slowly by. Some of my best shots of hawks are taken on these sorts of trips. Some winters the area is swarming with longspurs. Last winter, @gcwarbler and I came across a flock of 8-10,000 Lapland Longspurs:
http://www.inaturalist.org/observations/1169565

I have been up in the Panhandle the past three days enjoying lots of hawks, eagles and falcons, but with more cold and potentially wet weather coming into the area I am headed south, and soon back to central Texas. My iNat observations over the past few days will illustrate some of the birds I’ve been fortunate enough to see.

Some shots from this year and previous years of some of the species I enjoy seeing in this region of the state.
Rough-legged Hawk:
http://www.inaturalist.org/observations/137784
Ferruginous Hawk:
http://www.inaturalist.org/observations/2552926
http://www.inaturalist.org/observations/137716
Merlin:
http://www.inaturalist.org/observations/137735
http://www.inaturalist.org/observations/1123892
Northern Shrike:
http://www.inaturalist.org/observations/515814

If you have never visited the Texas Panhandle in winter, and have a spirit of adventure and curiosity, and have three to four days to spare…give it a shot!

Ingresado el 06 de enero de 2016 por greglasley greglasley | 9 comentarios | Deja un comentario

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