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Katy Farmlands

To the west of the city of Houston there's a town named Katy, just off I10. North and west of the town is the area known as the Katy Farmlands. This area seems to be better known for winter birding when the northern sparrows are in the area but we found it pretty good in April despite the lack of sparrows.

Scissor-tailed Flycatchers

Scissor-tailed Flycatchers

Once we had left I10 and gone through Katy we reached a more rural area. The commonest birds, mostly on wires, were Scissor-tailed Flycatchers, Northern Mockingbirds and Loggerhead Shrikes. We found a length of road where, over about a couple of miles, were we saw at least 50 of these shrikes.

We followed the route indicated in the ABA Birdfinding Guide A Birder's Guide to the Texas Coast. Turning north from Stockdick School Road onto Katy–Hockley Cut Off Road we soon found a distant flock of about 200 flying Buff-breasted Sandpipers which landed in a field and immediately disappeared into the grass. Also here an American Golden-plover flew over as did a Red-shouldered Hawk and two Black-bellied Whistling-ducks.

Katy Ricefield

Katy Ricefield

Further north, at the Sharp Road turning we stopped to close Scissor-tails and hoped for a late sparrow. No sparrows but Helen suddenly shouted 'Bobwhite' and indicated where two male and three female Northern Bobwhites were on the edge of a field by the road side.

Driving along with the occasional stop we picked up more shrikes and mockingbirds plus Savannah Sparrow, Eastern Meadowlark, Red-tailed Hawk and two female Northern Harriers. A well-hidden pool (over a ridge) added two Mottled Ducks, dowitchers, Stilt Sandpiper, Lesser Yellowlegs and nearby I did a sudden stop when Helen shouted 'stop' and a hasty piece of reversing found us the bird she'd seen, an Upland Sandpiper, mostly hidden in a grass field.

Heading up towards Warren Lake (which was very quiet – Neotropic Cormorant and American Coot) we picked up Swainson's and Broad-winged Hawks and two Northern Caracaras.



Finally, heading down FM 2855 another sudden stop was necessitated by the discovery that two birds on a fence wire were in fact Dickcissels. We had seen one the previous year but it was a long way off and barely identifiable. These two were much better.

Having seen the two Dickcissels front-on we drove on and lamost immediately stopped to watch two more, this time facing away from us and showing their rufuous backs.

Further on down FM 2855 we found a roadside pool which was packed with waders – loads of Short- and Long-billed Dowitchers, Least, Semipalmated, Pectoral, White-rumped, Baird's and Buff-breasted Sandpipers, Dunlin, Black-necked Stilts, American Golden-plovers and Marbled Godwits – there were literally hundreds of waders here, it was fantastic!

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