I've been traveling and busy with various other things, so unable to do my new
BBS route. Feeling the time crunch and despite an iffy forecast for today, I
headed up to Rock Island in Colorado county to run the BBS. I shouldn't have
worried; it was a beautiful morning and a very rewarding outing.
I scouted this BBS route back in May and it was very wet then; one road was
under 6 inches of water and the last part of the router along FM 950 was
closed, being inundated by the flood waters of the Colorado River. Today it
was still quite wet though the gravel roads were dry and in decent shape.
I started the route at the official start time of 5:56. Things were going
along as expected until stop 6.... Still before sunrise, I pulled up to the
wetland at stop #6 that I thought had promise during my scouting trip back in
May. Immediately, I noticed 3 large, bulky white birds and thought it odd that
White Pelicans would be at this location at this time of year. Raising the
binocs I was shocked to find, not White Pelicans, but Mute Swans! Three adult
swans, in all their glory, preening in the earlier morning light. They were
immediately aware of my presence and moved further back in the wetland when I
crawled into the back of my truck for a better view. These birds were
After a while, the 3 swans took flight and headed off in a south easterly
direction. However, within 5 minutes here they came; returning to this
wetland, giving more great looks and photo opps. I saw no bands or other bling
on the birds that would suggest that they are domestic. And there is no farm
house in the area. So, I'm not sure what to make of these birds. For those
interested, a couple of pics are attached to the eBird report (link below).
Other good birds (for Colorado County) at this wetland at stop #6 of the Rock
Island BBS route were Purple Gallinule, Least Bittern, Anhinga and Fulvous
Along the rest of the BBS route there were good numbers of Bobwhite, Dickcissel
and Green Heron. The local sheriff chatted my up near Garwood and seemed
genuinely interested in knowing what birds are breeding in his area and in
learning a little about this citizen science things called the Breeding Bird
Survey. Tractors and 4-wheelers were almost as numerous as cars along the
route, though car and truck traffic was quite heavy along FM 950, late in the
route. And, the much anticipated rain held off until I finished the route, so
that was a good thing too!
All in all a pretty exciting day of June birding. If you're interested in
checking out the swans or some of the other birds at the wetland at stop 6, it
is on CR 118, southeast of Rock Island at 29.513077, -96.550258.
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