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Daphne Prairie Bird Trip & Photos - Feb 1st 2004.

Daphne prairie Today a group of 10 of us were led by Matt White on a field trip to Daphne Prairie near Mt Vernon, Franklin County, TX. We came from Houston, Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth and Arkansas to see this beautiful 1000 acre, unplowed remnant of Texas's Tallgrass Prairie. It is not bisected by roads or utility poles and is home to grassland birds such as Smith's Longspurs, Le Conte's Sparrows, Short-eared owls and Sprague's Pipits. The weather was perfect - not to cold, not to hot at around 55 and the predicted rain never fell!
I'm going to cut straight to the most exciting find of the day - A Burrowing Owl! The first county record for this bird, which are very rare in this part of the state. It flew from a fence pole to a burrow which was located on a mima mound (pimple mound). Needless to say, everyone was excited as it was such a surprise to see this bird yet looking at the habit it was perfect for it! Photos were also taken.
Great looks were seen of a Le Conte's Sparrow just 6 foot in front of our feet, sitting in plain view for some great photos. Also, Sprague's Pipits were everywhere, at least 20 of them and again, great views of them on the ground as well as in the air.
A Sandhill Crane was heard making a single call, another first county record. Unfortunately one bird we didn't see was the Smiths Longspur, which are seen there, especially when the cold, snowy weather in Arkansas & Oklahoma pushes them down.
This is a pristine prairie and it was wonderful to see one still in this condition. There is so much of interest out there, not just birds but the fauna and flora also. All sorts of Plant and grass species from Dropseed to Pennyroyal were very interesting and other animals seen included a Coyote and 3 Jack Rabbits!
We had an excellent day & thanks go to Matt White for leading such an informative trip. I look forward to returning here again in the near future.

Birders on a Mima Mound

Above - The group standing on top of one of the many mima (pimple) mounds on this prairie.
Burrowing Owl in Prairie habitat

Burrowing owl perched on fence post. (First county record)
Burrowing Owl © Matt White

Burrowing Owl - Photo © 2004 Matt White.
Burrowing Owl © Howard Laidlaw

Burrowing Owl - Photo © 2004 Howard Laidlaw.
Owl burrow in a mima mound

The owls burrow, located on top of one of the mima mounds. There were a couple of burrows which we saw the owl fly back and forth to.
Le Conte's Sparrow

Le Conte's Sparrow, giving us great views at just 6 feet away!
Le Conte's Sparrow

Le Conte's Sparrow
Le Conte's Sparrow

Le Conte's Sparrow
Le Conte's Sparrow, © Matt White

Le Conte's Sparrow - Photo © 2004 Matt White.
Le Conte's Sparrow, © Matt White

Le Conte's Sparrow - Photo © 2004 Matt White.

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