Date: 4/14/17 5:59 pm From: Anthony Hewetson <fattonybirds...> Subject: [texbirds] Finishing off my TCC list - Day Eight - Hopkins and Wood Counties
Greetings All: Despite our attempt to, as Steelye Span sang it 'drink down the moon' we were up and at it bright and early, Martin stowed safely in the passenger seat with caffeine and the all-essential clipboard, and both of us in fine spirits.
We boogied on up Highways 37 and 154 to Hopkins County and then on up to Lake Cooper where we explored the South Doctor Unit and Public Boat Ramp and then the South Sulphur Unit. From there we headed along Highway 71 to Emblem, then along Highway 71 and Fm 275 to Cumby, then along FM 275 to Miller Grove (with a side loop along CR 4128 - great birding and butterflying), and finally along FM 275 to the Hopkins/Rains County line. The crittering was great and, from 7:35 to 2:00, we worked the list up from 61 species (thanks to drive throughs in August of 2001, May of 20013, October of 2014, and 17 March 2017) to 102 species. Number 100 was 2 White-crowned Sparrows near Cumby. Pad species: Merlin at 101 and Black-and-white Warbler at 102 (both along CR 4128). Highlights included a large enough to be flagged group of 38 Neotropic Cormorants at the South Doctor Unit and the aforementioned Merlin.
TCC County 253 was safely in check.
We made it Wood County, after crossing Rains County via FM 275 and FM 514, by 2:15. I had, by dribs and drabs over the course of the previous week) worked this county list up from 10 to 82 species and, due to tons of overlap, this one proved, initially to be a bit difficult. This was made even more difficult by the fact that I kept thinking things were new and that we had made it only to double check and discover that I had seen these things earlier in the week. By 6:10, however we had prevailed and the list was up to 106 species. Our route: FM 514 and Highway 17 to Alba, giving us some shots at deep water, FM 182 to Quitman, Highway 154, Highway 37, and Highway 69 (plus a backroad or two) to The Mineola Nature Preserve (which I think Martin would have burst without visiting - and which we needed), and, well, that was it. Number 100 (number 25,400 in another sense) was 30 Blue-winged Teals on a biggish pond near the nature preserve. Pad species: Cinnamon Teal at 101, Black-bellied Whistling Duck at 102, Cattle Egret at 103, Blue-headed Vireo at 1054, Eastern Towhee at 105, and Harris's Sparrow at 106. Highlights included 1 Anhinga (the first of the trip) at Lake Fork Reservoir, 4 Black-bellied Whistling Ducks at the pond near the preserve (only the second sighting of the entire trip), the outstanding diversity of habitats and critters available at the Mineola Nature Preserve, and - this can't be overstated - the sheer joy of completing my final TCC County with my brother; the person who got me truly started at birding (with a Spotted Towhee on the Oregon State University campus several decades ago) and with whom I completed my first TCC County (Howard County way back in the spring of 1997)
That's it, folks - twenty years of birding hundreds of thousands of miles of Texas and 100 species in all 254 counties. That last bird seemed just a bit anti-climatic but I had had only three hours of sleep the night before and rebounded in time to have a celebratory drink, followed by a celebratory dinner with bre'er Martin before packing him back off to Arkadelphia, Arkansas.
What's next? Well, if Steve Collins has anything to do with it, my getting twenty something years worth of birding trips (1988 to 2012) into eBird. I might have to turn that into my 2018 game:)