Monday, June 14, 2010

Fort Davis, Louisiana birding, Mississippi

Sunday, May 30, 2010

When I got to Ft Davis State Park in the rain, it was full up. Fortunately, I knew of a picnic area about twenty miles further north, past McDonald Observatory, which abuts a Nature Conservancy holding that's been good birding every time I go there. One problem was that I was getting an intermittent battery warning light, and that kind of stuff always upsets me. There were a lot of RV-ers there at the roadside park, but they were leaving in the morning. Got a good nights sleep and the weather cleared off.

Monday, May 31

Great dawn chorus. Looked at the engine but nothing obvious showed, so I took a hike. Back into the TNC area (which is redundantly called Madera Canyon) as far as a small pond. Then drove back into town and found a coffee wifi place that even had used books for sale. Had lunch there too, then up to the State Park, which had cleared out from the Memorial Day weekend crowd. There was a sweet woman at the office who knew some birding, and she checked me into a site that was very good for that purpose, right across from the area where they feed the Montezuma Quail.

The Montezuma Quail feeding area

Now I'd seen one or two before, but they were flying away in a blur, so not very satisfying. Supposedly this park was one of the most reliable places in the Southwest to see them, so I was highly motivated. But the evening stakeout failed although I did get some pictures of other birds. Met a very nice woman at the feeder from San Francisco also, who was wandering around in an RV, Sharon B, some good conversation waiting on the birds. I managed to get photos off the cameras onto the computer, caught up the journal, and ended up feeling mellow after being sort of depressed in the morning, worn from heat and vehicle worries.

Tuesday, June 1

Dung beetles in action near the quail viewing ramada

Sharon was back in the morning for another try at MOQU, but again they failed to show. Maybe we were making too much noise talking, who they were spooked by some camera sound effects. Whatever. I set out for the long drive across Texas, all the way in one day. The truck was shifting a little strangely too, which was bad for my paranoia, but there wasn't much choice but to carry on. I made it into Louisiana after dark and crashed at Peveto Woods, where there had been a report on the Louisiana listserv of a Yellow-green Vireo.

Wednesday, June 2

I birded that place really thoroughly for over two hours for two acres, but no YGVI. Did get several new LA tics, so it was worth the stop for sure. I could have stopped at Grande Isle on the way to New Orleans, but it was under sever oil attack thanks to BP. Beaches were closed and it was just plain depressing to think about. The day was gray, rain threatening all day, and it was a relief to get to my friend Lindy's in Mandeville for some civilization. That meant good wifi, great food (she's a pro cook), shower and real bed, we watched TV, she played me the first episode of "Treme", a New Orleans post Katrina apocalypse series. Full of realistic characters in the unrealistic NOLA style. I'll see more someday.

Thursday, June 3

Birded on the north shore at Big Branch Marsh NWR, then down through Slidell to Bayou Sauvage NWR for more poking around, mostly on Recovery Road. Got some good tics, but got caught in the rain. Met up with my friend Christine Horne for lunch a little after noon. We went to this very cool and funky place out on the east side of the Ninth Ward, and the I got her computer working so she could get on-line. Back to Mandeville.

Friday, June 4

My notes are weak here, think I went to the Northshore nature trails, must have got a replacement alternator, maybe some shopping. Lindy had gone over to the Gulf Coast in MS, but I stayed there. Sorta blurred.

Saturday, June 5

Changed the alternator and got my refund. God bless the O'Reilly lifetime guarantee, that was the third exchange over the years. Big Branch Marsh again, then a stop at the unused interchange on I-10 that I'd been introduced to by Dan Purrington on the New Orleans CBC back in December. Got a Painted Bunting for the LA list. then a little more Bayou Sauvage and a run into Mississippi by the back way over the Rigolets. Crossing the Pearl River there was lot of oil spill action at the bridge, boats and equipment staging, sheen on the water, smell of oil. When I got to Barbara's on the Gulf Coast in Pass Christian, the day was hot, the mood was normal, crazed, and Sean had made some great BBQ. I ended up sleeping on the upstairs porch, but not well, too hot and humid.

Sunday, June 6

No birding at all, just talk and geek and figure out the hot-tub wiring.

Monday, June 7

Got the wiring done, PITA job crawling in the sand under the porch. Advising Sean and his son Justin on their work projects. Got away around noon, and drove northwest through St Francisville. Stopped at the John James Audubon State Park, another TNC sanctuary near there, where I found my 50% bird for LA, a Louisiana Waterthrush of all things. It was another hot fried day, I couldn't get wifi nor phone service, but did get nailed in a speed trap for an $80 ticket. Swore to never pass through that part of the state again, which will be easy since there's not one good reason to go there. I was only there this time so I could crash in Tensas River NWR. Got in there right around dark, found a place to park off the road, and came under severe bug attack, which fortunately lightened up later in the night so I could open up the shell and get a little breeze.

Tuesday, June 7

Birded in the refuge in the morning, got a few more tics, and was feeling pretty secure on my count, but at the end of the year when the ABA list report form showed up they had added about ten species for the state that weren't in Avisys. So I dropped back just below the threshold by one species. Anyway. Another reason I'd come that way was to make a stop at Poverty Point, which I'd visited once before many years ago. But I'd read a book about it in the meantime, and was curious to see it again with more informed eyes. Really enjoyed it, since I lucked into a solo tour with a young ranger named Eric who I was able to quiz relentlessly. Crossed back into MS at Greenville and drove on up to Memphis to hang with the amazing Feraldi women, Mother Nancy, daughters Shiloh and Holly, and little Lydia, maybe the world's smartest kid. Got there about 4pm, spent the evening talking and geeking, with a break for great catfish compliments of Nancy. Crashed n Holly's room while she spent an all-nighter making an amazing dress (Facebook link).

Wednesday, June 8

Mellow morning with the women and back on the road about eleven. Home in Madison County around six, neighbor had mowed the driveway just enough, house wasn't too cobwebby, opened the windows and stuck pins in the wall map.


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