Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Clear water and birds II

I first got a copy of a bird guide--it was Peterson's Field Guide to the Birds of Texas--more than 40 years ago. Barton Creek below the springs (see previous post) was one of the places I went to try my hand at identifying water birds. I was excited to find a large white bird swimming in the creek. Thumbing through Peterson's field guide, I finally concluded it had to be a snow goose. Wow, I thought. A rare find indeed. I brought my girlfriend down to Barton Springs to show her this oddity. She had grown up being hauled around on back roads in the back seat of a station wagon with her brothers while often being forced to wait through long periods of bickering which intensified, depending on the wait, to outright pushing-and-shoving sibling civil war, while their parents, who had stopped the car to leap out with binoculars and bird books in hand, watched birds.

She hated birdwatching. I showed her the goose.

She could be scornful at times. "That's a domestic duck" she said. Obviously, we didn't have ducks on the farm when I was a child. This was perhaps the low point of my birdwatching career.

Nevertheless, in the years since I returned to Austin, I go back to Barton Creek below the springs, especially during winter, to enjoy the beauty of the place, and, of course, to watch birds.

Yesterday's ducks, plus a swan and a coot, below:

Here's a male wood duck

And another male wood duck. These are very foppish ducks

A female wood duck

A gadwall

And another gadwall

Several lesser scaups

OK, that's enough of the ducks; here's a mute swan. Not a native, of course, but they have lived on Town Lake and lower Barton Creek for years

And finally, here's a coot. No, not a self portrait.

Click to enlarge

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