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Buzzards on the prowl


There is an old German axiom that whatever you spend New Year’s Day is how you will spend your year. In the past, i have spent the day dismantling the Christmas tree and putting away the decorations while watching the Rose Bowl parade. This year is certainly not traditional. I’ve done assorted things ranging from a hike/working/cleaning and organizing my work area. But this year is clearly not a usual year.

We are fortunate to live on the western most reach of the Great Mississippi Flyway which means there are migratory—and stationary(?) or perhaps residential is the proper term for the shore and water birds. We are also fortunate to have ready access to several wildlife refuge areas including Anahuac National Wildlife Nature Preserve. There is a new visitor’s center just out of Winnie but it is currently closed due to our need to social distance.

Sunny skies, no rain or wind but more than a tad chilly at 55 degrees projected to be the high for the day meant a good day for seeing birds. We remembered a previous year in which we participated in the annual bird count—great fun–we got to ride on a RollYGon–a kind of arctic marsh vehicle through the swampy areas definitely off the beatend path—–but we were terrible at identifying all the birds we saw that day—easy to count the dead alligators lying on the side of the pathways. Not sure we should feel pleased or aggrieved we were not invited back to help out the next year.

A few other people were out–and all of them with what looked like fabulous photographic gear—I have a Canon SX 50–light enough for me to hold relatively steady and a foldout screen to accommodate my fairly large blind spot. Coots…..a black duck type bird with a white bill swims along with its head down scanning the undergrowth in the water, then dives down and all you will see is the concentric circles in the water–then it pops up two or three feet away.

A caracara flew past us with a brown feathered object dangling from its claws. Three buzzards were intensely interested in this event; as we drove silently along–Tessie is a great bird-watching vehicle–needs a convertible top to be truly useful—the caracara would fly a few feet with the buzzards walking solemnly but purposely behind.

We spied a large groups of birds on what we might call an island—with one of the faboo photographers taking photos—it was a flock of egrets mingled with spoonbills. My camera would not zoom close enough to see those awkward bills but I did see the pink plumage.

A bit further down the road was a /green heron, a snowy egret, and cormorants perched on a road sign.

But we needed to hurry home for our cabbage, black-eyed peas, Mexican cornbread and champagne to welcome in another new year.

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