One of the big disappointments about Texas birding is the amount of trash you encounter along roadways – about anywhere. Many times I’ve spotted a Crested Caracara up ahead to find it’s only one more Walmart plastic bag tangled on a fence post. Of course, with no recycling, no returnable deposit, and a “toss it out the window” mentality, what can you expect?
Recycling is about non-existent throughout the South. It hurts to crush plastic milk cartons and toss them with the cardboard, cans, and other recyclables. State parks are pretty lame, with only aluminum cans collected. Since we drink no soda or beer from cans, well you get the picture.
The other day I drove over to a large wildlife management area for some birding. It is used for grazing as well and some of the residents didn’t seem too impressed by the Vermont plates and kayak on the red truck.
It was a foggy morning and on the way on the access road, I saw a life bird – a White-tailed Kite perched in a dead tree. I took a photo through my scope which was pretty fuzzy but ok for documentation.
Once I left the truck and began birding alongside the Guadeloupe River, I was shocked by the debris. Some was from recent high water but much was crap left by hunters and fishermen. Beer cans galore, fishing line in trees, it was really depressing. But some great birds helped make up for it. Red-bellied woodpeckers made a racket while dozens of yellow-rumps did their flycatchers act.
The highlight was a big bird that flew off and perched in a tree up ahead. Thankful that I didn’t have the dog with me, I got right underneath a Great Horned Owl who watched me through the branches but stayed perched as I photographed it and then quietly moved on.
It was a good birding outing but I could not help but contrast it with my trips to new England WMA’s. Sure, you’ll always run into idiots who litter, but in Texas, it seems to be genetically imprinted. Mary and I are far from alone at our disgust for the situation – many from Canada and the upper mid-West share our opinion – as I’m sure do many Texans.