15 April 2009

Bobbie on the Beat…(High Island, Texas): April 2, 2009

Although I personally did not see all of them, (I saw over ten), 17 species of warbler were recorded just in HAS Smith Oaks and Boy Scout on High Island today. The morning walk in Boy Scout Woods was delayed by a heavy downpour or two, blackened skies causing a deathly quiet to settle over the mottes. However, not long after the black clouds passed on the warblers slowly but surely appeared over us in the trees – a striking Yellow-throated sharing a cypress tree with a tree-climbing Black-and-white, and a male Black-throated Green. The odd ‘blue bullet’, (AKA Indigo Bunting) shot up into the trees there too, along with the odd butch Rose-breasted Grosbeak and Gray Catbird frantically checking for ripe mulberries around the grandstand, where a late crop this year was not satisfying their craving at all just yet (give it a couple more weeks and, as they say in Oz, “she’ll be right”).

The afternoon walk at Smith was a blustery and largely migrant-less affair, the early morning promise of the black clouds and noon tease of swallows careening down the beach at Bolivar coming to little, until late on when a furtive Kentucky hopped off the path in front of me, giving me very much the impression this ground-dweller was fresh off the Gulf. Aside from that we did squeeze a Nashville from the afternoon crop. However, the evening thrill came not from a warbler or migrant at all, but from a resident feline on the island. As I picked up the phone to reel in Christian with the lure of his lifer Kentucky he cut me dead with the bone-jarring revelation that a Bobcat had just walked out in front of him while live on air on the phone. My frantic reaction to try and glean where exactly Christian was at the time was quickly met with the distinctly unenlightening information that he was currently “at the back of the woods”. A few words later and closer to the facts required we hung up on each other swiftly, me to track my way to Christian quicksmart, for him though to be able to enjoy the cat to the full now that he had freed a hand for his binos! As I treaded with nervous anticipation toward the area where I thought he was I saw a Nine-banded Armadillo scamper out of the brush in front of me, and wondered whether he was running in fear of a stump-tailed cat lying behind in the shadows?! wavered for a minute, then decided I should stick to my original course and head for Boix. Not long after I turned the corner to make out the outline of Christian lurking near the Smith drip, and noticed he was busy trying to line up his Leica to digiscope something at the drip. He shot a glance at me and gently but firmly gestured for me to look through the ‘scope when I was greeted by a stubby-tailed feline drinking from the bird drip, its head filling my view. Soon after it began to walk straight at us and crossed the open path right out in front of us (while we spun cartwheels in our minds). A magic moment. We got back to the car, giddy from this cool cat, and finished with a vermillion Summer Tanager searching in vain for ripe mulberries by the car park. A most enjoyable day indeed.

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