Snowy Owl and Common Redpoll: Are we still in Texas?

Snowy Owl, Lake Ray Hubbard Texas Photo Stephan Lorenz

Friday (02/17) we rolled out of Houston towards Dallas during the later afternoon fortunately avoiding most of the traffic. It stopped raining half-way there and the weather looked more promising than predicted. We decided to camp at Cedar Hill State Park to safe money (at $30 a night not a real deal). The late evening was cool, but clear. That changed dramatically a few hours into the night. It didn’t rain it poured, heavily and steadily. By 5:30 am Claudia was occupying the last patch of dry blankets in our tent and I decided it was time to give up and get up as I was getting soaked trying to snooze. Not surprisingly we arrived at Robertson Park at Lake Ray Hubbard with plenty of time to spare.

We drove several circles in the rain, checked the marina, the shore and the marina again. Once the rain quieted a bit I walked along the shoreline, scanning all poles and trees, nothing. Several other birders started to trickle in, we exchanged phone numbers hoping someone would spot it. We crossed back over I30 searched the other side and then checked another park nearby before another loop past the marina. We exchanged phone numbers again and decided to try another location. Three minutes out of the park, the call came (10:30), the owl had reappeared. I took the first turn about and sped back to the park. There it was, sitting on a light pole, with already half a dozen people gathering. We watched it for about an hour, it even flew right over our heads on broad white wings before settling on the telephone pole where it remained all afternoon.

Snowy Owl, Texas Photo Stephan Lorenz

A quick lunch at a nearby BBQ and back for more owl watching. Janet, John, and Steve arrived from an apparent succesful Redpoll chase in Nagadoches. We exchanged information and a quick plan was hatched that had us driving to Nagadoches for the  night. Near Tyler Claudia remembered Jesse and Candice, yes of course, it was still early in the day and we could visit. Well after some talking, a great dinner, and some movies Jesse and Candice were kind enough to let us stay the night.

We snuck out (02/19), so I hope, since Jesse and Candice Surely wanted their sleep, at 5:30 am. I took a bit of a long route to Nagadoches and we arrived just after seven and headed north a few more miles to the Redpoll, hopefully. I pulled into the wrong drive way and we dawdled indecisive before calling our contact again. Sure enough we had turned a bit too early. When we arrived at the right place the bird hadn’t been seen. We settled in to wait. les Stewart was most welcoming and helpful and we appreciated his invitation. I walked back to the car and grabbed my jacket since it was still in the 40s. Coming back I spotted a small bird high up in a tree near the feeders. There it was, a single Redpoll, among some American Goldfinches. All of us saw it really well, especially when it came down to the feeder area for a few minutes, hopping among Field, Song, White-crowned, and Harris’s Sparrows. We got home before noon, exhausted, tired, with lots of gear to dry, but it had been a long time since the last ABA bird and two new birds for my Texas list in one trip.

there is a Common Redpoll out there Nagadoches, Texas Photo Stephan Lorenz


3 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Judy on February 19, 2012 at 5:24 pm

    I enjoyed reading about your adventure and especially the photos of the Texas
    Snowy Owl. Miss seeing you at EFL.


  2. Posted by Steph G on April 10, 2012 at 9:10 am

    I think this morning that I saw a common redpoll, male, at my feeder in San Antonio with the other finches. Or at least it looks lots like the pictures I saw of them online. Is that even possible? What else could it be?


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