Yesterday, 2 January 2013:
It has been an irruptive species kind of winter. The birds leading that momentum in west Texas and the trans-Pecos have been Red Crossbills (Loxia curvirostra).
Yesterday, after running errands to beat out the winter precipitation of today, Heidi and I stopped at previously reported Red Crossbill location. A place rife with conifers.
Soon after our arrival we saw and heard a loud cloud of a flock flying well above the pines. They turned back and we lost track of where they landed.
Eventually they descended upon a couple of trees, one of which was near a water hose that could not be completely turned off.
Sweet. That meant some standing water at a patch of manicured grass. Twenty-six Red Crossbills were drinking from that spot. All of these photos were taken, by that phone camera, at that water-sourced location.
What was particularly amazing was that they descended to that tree within twenty feet of where I was standing. Of course this happens when the SLR camera was left at the house. They were SO CLOSE. Loud and communicative, they certainly seemed to have a water-drinking hierarchy.
This led to a very satisfying observation for about 10 minutes. As far as memorable observation occurrences are concerned, we should leave that camera at home more often.
Heidi posted about the Rough-legged Hawk (Buteo lagopus) one post earlier than this. It was a left-behind camera kind of day, and a great start to a New Year.