Saturday, September 1, 2012

A Brown Booby at Canyon Lake, TX

Several days ago someone posted he had seen a Brown Booby at Canyon Lake, an inland body of water just north of San Antonio. The sighting was confirmed and the usual litany of posts on the listserve appeared.

"Booby seen perched on dam at 11:00 a.m."

"Booby seen at 3:00 p.m."

"Booby wasn't seen for a while. But then it flew in and we got great views of it."

With a long weekend, slightly cooler weather, and a bird-chasing ambition which is quite unusual for us, Avie and I decided we would drive up to Canyon Lake to see this wayward pelagic bird. We'd already seen the species in Panama. But in South Texas?

We took the back roads up, since driving through Hill Country is always fun and relaxing. Along the way we saw a Crested Caracara wheeling in the sky above us. These birds are usually much more common south of San Antonio. But it seems many south Texas birds are moving north, especially with the extreme drought.

We arrived at the Canyon Lake Dam and saw a large group of birders out on the dam. How did we know they were birders at that distance? Scopes and cameras with really large lenses, of course.

We wandered out. As other birders passed us on their way to exit the area, they nodded at us and told us it was on the far side of the concrete structure on its usual perch. We got to the spot just as the last scope was being packed up and moved out. But the Brown Booby was, indeed, there. One other birder, Gerald Zimmerman from Waxahachie, TX, up by Dallas, remained and we discussed birding, rare birds, and the two other rare birds of late: a Black-tailed Godwit and a Greater Shearwater. (We won't be chasing those.)

We had brought our little Panasonic Lumix camera and zoomed it up as much as possible. I figured I'd try and crop the bird more when we got home. Here's a shot giving a feel for where the bird we in relation to where we were standing:

You can see the Booby perched in the center of the large pole to the right of the concrete structure. We got good looks with our binoculars. Then I zoomed up the camera and cropped the shots even more when I got home. They're a bit "grainy". But show how handsome a Brown Booby is, with its chocolate brown body and contrasting white belly.

Tomorrow morning we're going out to Susan and Don Schaezler's Warbler Woods for a little migratory birding in her backyard. It's the first day of hunting season, so we won't be wandering the property. Still hoping to see some migrating passerines.

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