Date: 4/13/17 11:41 am From: Anthony Hewetson <fattonybirds...> Subject: [texbirds] Finishing off my TCC list - Day Two - Van Zandt, Henderson, and Kaufman Counties
Greetings All: The second day of my trip was 100% TCC birding and I worked Van Zandt County (at 66 based on a January visit in 2013), Henderson County (at 72 based on the same January trip in 2013), and Kaufman County (at 72 based on, you guessed it, the same January, 2013, trip).
I started in Van Zandt County and, from 7:40 to 11:10, worked by way along CR 1255, from Silver Lake to Canton, then along CR 2909, FM 858, and CR 1653 to Martins Mill, and, finally, along CR 1861 to Walton which is pretty much on the Van Zandt/Henderson County line, working the list up to 104 (TCC County 241!) The focus in this county was on wetland species that I had missed during my one previous visit - mostly farm ponds and flooded fields - and on early spring arrivals. Open land was more available than I would have thought and I did very well with sparrows. Number 100 was a Northern Shoveler at a pond just south of Martins Mill. Pad species: Ring-necked Duck at 101, Lesser Scaup at 102, Gadwall at 103, and Least Sandpiper at 104. My favorite sighting was not a sighting but rather hearing a Cope's/Gray Treefrog singing from an unseen perch in a flooded woodlot.
I worked Henderson County from 11:10 to 2:05, wandering along Highway 19 and CR 2709 to Eustace, then along CR 2329 and CR 3054 to Log Cabin/Caney City (where I did quite well at the public boat launch), and then up Highway 198 to Mabanck, pretty much on the Henderson/ Kaufman County line, topping out at 102 species (TCC County 242 - kaching!) The boat launch gave me a chance at some deep water species; the rest of my visit focused on the the big three: early arriving songbirds of the wood, early arriving songbirds of the open field, and desperately searching for duckworthy ponds. Number 100 was a Mallard on a pond just south of Gun Barrel City. Pad species: Ruddy Duck at 101 and Crested Caracara at 102. The two Crested Caracaras I saw between Gun Barrel City and Mabank were the only two I saw during the entire trip ... earning highlight status with ease.
I worked Kaufman County from 2:05 to 5:35, wandering along Highway 175 to Kemp, then along CR 1391, CR 1836, and CR 2515 to Ola, then along Highway 243 and Highway 34 to Kaufman City Lakes, then along Highway 34 and CR 2728 to Elmo, and, finally, along Highway 80 to the Kaufman/Van Zandt County line, working the list up to 104 and making Kaufman County my 243rd TCC County. Number 100 came in the form of 3 Swamp Sparrows at Kaufman City Lakes. Pad species: Fox Sparrow at 101, Blue-headed Vireo at 102, Bufflehead at 103, and Common Gallinule at 104. The highlight was not any given species of critter but, rather, Kaufman City Lakes where I quickly racked up 42 species of bird, including 9 species of sparrow, in just 45 minutes. It was also a bit of a rediscovery as I had forgotten my previous visit to the site in January of 2013 and, as I drove up to and then saw the park, it was like seeing an old friend in an unexpected place.
The day's work brought me through two counties that I still needed and I, incidentally, bumped Smith County up to 23 species from 11 and Wood County up to 45 from 41. Throughout the trip, the decision to live in the county with the largest deficit paid off and I really enjoyed noting, cider in hand, the Wood County total creeping up with each passing day.