Saturday, March 14, 2009

Choke Canyon State Park, Spring Birds 2009

The bird's head was a beautiful snow white. The breast was a yellow orange color and a little bit of a brilliant red showed from under the wing. Renita grabbed the binoculars while I fumbled through the bird book. "Look, there's another and another. A whole flock is in the tree", she exclaimed. "Oh, look at the long tail", she added.
We left the coast and drove to Choke Canyon State Park, a short trip of only 110 miles. We had wanted to return here after our brief stay last fall, when we saw quite a few new birds including vermilion flycatchers. Arriving, we lucked out and got one of the best sites in the park, site 127. We were on the lake front and were surrounded by water on two sides of our fifth wheel.
That afternoon we relaxed at our site, before going to the seventy six acre lake for some birding and for a relaxing walk,(the lake is a large pond next to the main lake). Our first walk was along the short path, by the boat ramp. A few birds were wading at the waters edge, including a common moorhen, which was a new bird for our list.
"Look at the alligators", Renita exclaimed! Across the pond was the biggest alligator we had ever seen,(A fellow camper told us the gator had been measured at 14 feet). No wonder we had been greeted by the no swimming signs!
A nutria swam by us and waded to shore, feeding on the vegetation. At first we thought it was a beaver but the tail was wrong. It turned out to be our first nurtia and we saw another on another path.
Driving a bit further we walked on a dike that separated the main lake from the pond. Gadwalls and blue teal fed while a white ibis and a white faced ibis both preened themselves while standing on a log. Below us a family was fishing for catfish and had a huge stringer full of nice fish!
Returning home for dinner we ate and talked when Renita noticed a bird landing in the tree next to the window. You probably already guessed the bird, it was a scissor tailed flycather, showing off it's breeding plumage. A real treat, even though we had already got one on our life list.
That evening I talked with our neighbor, who had a bass boat and was putting on new tackle. I asked him about the fishing and he said he had caught two bass over eight pounds! Oh my.
The next morning a front rolled in and it started to rain. As southeast Texas was in a drought, we couldn't complain. A boat fished for bass in the bay in front of our rear window, A girl caught and released a nice catfish, hmmmmmm.
The next day, I took two poles and cast out some peeled shrimp. It didn't take long before my pole started to move lake ward and I was rewarded with a nice size catfish. Another wait and I added another to my stringer Oh my, one more and its catfish for dinner! A smaller fish bit and then the two largest fish of the morning. A nice mess,(the limit here is twenty five fish a day with two days limit being a possession limit). The wind switched to the north, the cold front had arrived. Time for lunch so I took the fish and cleaned them.
It rained for the next three days, I still fished and caught more catfish and turtles. We birded out the back window of our house and got another new bird, a black-necked stilt. Not bad for birding from the house! All in all Choke Canyon State Park met our expectations again! Clear skies.

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