“Loving Life is easy when you’re in love with it.” – Author unknown
Scissortails and a Whistler in the Rain
A scissor-tailed flycatcher sitting in the rain at Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge. — Photo by Pat Bean
My son Lewis caught his birding addiction from me. I make no apologies. The shared craziness has given the two of us many hours of delightful magic and wonder.
So when I recently visited him and his family for a few days at his Texas Gulf Coast home in Lake Jackson, we decided to ignore the stormy weather forecast and go look for birds. . Sure, it was drizzling, but that could stop at any time. And besides, it would be our only chance to spend a day birding before I would be moving on to visit other Texas family, which includes two other kids and 10 grandchildren scattered far and wide across the Lone Star State.
We decided to go to Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge, which is located only eight miles away from my son’s home. It holds memories of Lewis’ first bird outing with me, and the moment he identified a tropical cormorant — which was the exact moment he was hooked on birding. We laughingly relived that moment on our way to the refuge.
This is where Lewis and I were standing when the temperature dropped and the sky opened wide. — Photo by Pat Bean
We were standing on a boardwalk near the entrance to the refuge – ignoring a gentle rain while watching a chummy trio that included a dowitcher and two yellowlegs foraging in a pond – when a stiff breeze dropped the temperature several degrees.
In minutes we were standing in a deluge, but fortunately were standing under a roofed portion of the boardwalk. We waited, and waited, but it was soon evident that the rain wasn’t going to stop and we should head back to the car. The umbrella we shared did little to keep us dry, such was the fury of the storm.
I expected Lewis to turn toward the exit once we were in the car, but he headed deeper into the refuge.
“We can do a little car birding. Maybe we’ll spot some ducks,” he said. I laughed, knowing this is exactly what I would have done if I had been by myself. I have mentioned before, haven’t I, that passionate birders are a bit crazy.
“I’m sure we’ll have the place to ourselves,” I answered, as Lewis turned on the car defroster to keep the windows from fogging up.
I didn’t get a picture this day of the black-bellied whistler, but here’s a shot I took of four of them at Texas’ Brazos Bend State Park a while back. — Photo by Pat Bean
We ended the soggy day with the car splashing through puddles so deep I was surprised the vehicle didn’t stall. What a great adventure. We even spotted 24 bird species on our outing. For the birders among you, I’ll enumerate: Forster’s tern, blue jay, killdeer, common and great-tailed grackles, laughing gull, European starling, black vulture, mourning dove, mockingbird, meadowlark, scissor-tailed flycatcher, white ibis, lesser yellowlegs, short-billed dowitcher, western sandpiper, willet, great egret, greater yellowlegs, snowy egret, bank swallow, savannah sparrow, black-bellied whistler and pied-billed grebe.
The scissor-tailed flycatchers and the lone black-bellied whistler were my top two favorite sightings. It was late for the scissor-tails to still be in the area, and along with a colorful pair of adults, there was also a tree full of less bright and shorter tailed juvenile scissor-tails.
The whistler stood in the middle of the refuge’s gravel road beneath the dripping sky, and didn’t budge until we were almost on top of it. Whistlers are a species that I love, especially when a flock of them fly overhead belting out a tune.
The Wondering-Wanderer’s blog pick of the day.
Bean’s Pat: The Iris and the Lily http://tinyurl.com/lnt5xz4 Back road landscape. If you are a fan of Mother Nature, you will love this blog.
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