Big Country Audubon Society

Stories from September, 2006

Rodney Sturdivant to Speak at General Meeting, Oct. 5

Rodney Sturdivant will speak to us on his trip he took to the Galapagos Islands in 1989. The Galapagos Islands are largely desolate lava piles with little vegetation, except on the upper slopes, but are of special interest to naturalists for their large tortoises, land and marine iguanas, flightless cormorants, and other unusual wildlife. Tourism is now strictly regulated to protect the endangered species unknown outside the archipelago.

Rodney Sturdivant

Rodney has a Bachelor of Science degree in Wildlife Management from the University of Tennessee. He spent twenty years in the USAF as a navigator flying in the KC-135 (air-refueling tanker), the FB-111, and the B-1B. He is currently working as a civilian contractor conducting the systems training (ground school) and instructing the simulator training missions for the B-1B students at Dyess AFB.

Rodney’s also involved in several volunteer organizations:

  • Bobwhite Brigade – Instructor, Steering Committee member and Treasurer
  • Texas Youth Hunting Program (TYHP)
  • Big Country Master Naturalists – President
  • Friends of Abilene State Park – Board member
  • Texas hunter safety instructor
  • Big Country Master Gardener – intern

Rodney lives in Coleman County with his three German bird dogs and one wayward English Pointer.

Come hear Rodney speak and see his beautiful photos on the Galapagos Islands. We meet Thursday, October 5 at 7 p.m. at the Rose Park Senior Center, Room A, at Barrow and South 7th.

Fall Surprises, Mid September

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It sure is hard to stay focused on the birds of the Big Country when such a celebrity is in town. We knew you’d like more pictures of this flycatcher so we’ve put up a few more. Under each picture is information about this bird, its ecology, where it “normally” lives, and a theory as to why it has a black mask.

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Another rare visitor to the Big Country surprised us, a Mottled Duck (a resident of coastal marshes). Matt White was birding Lake Fort Phantom where he captured the above photo.

LBHEsurprise

And a few more mid-September birding surprises await your viewing in our Fall Surprises gallery. Do you know what this strange bird is?

Sept. 23, 2006 – NE Abilene – Lake Ft. Phantom – Lake Kirby – Waste Water

The Great Kiskadee put in a very brief appearance this morning in NE Abilene along the intersection of Lincoln and Hillcrest.

Other birds in the neighborhood:

  • Orchard Oriole, 1
  • Swainson’s Hawk, 1
  • American Crow, 2
  • Clay-colored Sparrow, 2

At Fort Phantom Lake:

  • Osprey (1)
  • Northern Harrier (2)
  • Swainson’s Hawk (2)
  • Forster’s Tern (4)
  • Savannah Sparrow (3)

At Lake Kirby:

  • Tricolored Heron (1)
  • American Avocet (13)
  • Spotted Sandpiper (1)

Also, Bill called in a Brown Thrasher at his place (Callahan Co.) on the 22nd.

At Waste Water:

Best bird(s) of the day:

  • American Golden-Plover, 1
  • Say’s Phoebe, 1
  • White-faced Ibis, 8
  • Least Sandpiper, 23
  • Spotted Sandpiper, 3
  • Pectoral Sandpiper, 9
  • Stilt Sandpiper, 5
  • Greater Yellowlegs, 16
  • Lesser Yellowlegs, 1
  • Long-billed Dowitcher, 140+

Others:

  • Pied-billed Grebe, 2
  • Green and Blue-winged Teal, 100+
  • Northern Shoveler, 1
  • Northern Harrier, 1 (fos)
  • Swainson’s Hawk, 1
  • American Crow, 2
  • Savannah Sparrow, 6 (fos)
  • Cattle Egret, 60+
  • Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, 22
  • Loggerhead Shrike, 6
  • Killdeer, 5
  • Barn Swallow, 71
  • Cave Swallow, 2
  • Eurasian Collared-Dove, 1
  • Ladder-backed Woodpecker, 1
  • Turkey Vulture, 6

Sept. 21, 2006 – NE Abilene, Cedar Creek Area

The Great Kiskadee continues to be seen and heard along the Cedar Creek area in NE Abilene. At 7:25 a.m. it was seen and heard at the corner of Cedar Crest and E.N. 22nd, near Wilhair Park. About ten minutes later it was heard and seen along the creek area behind the houses in the 2500 block of Lincoln. For the next hour it called and put in a couple of appearances before leaving the area around 8:37 and flying toward the field located along FM 600.

Migrants and best bird(s) of the morning:

  • Vermilion Flycatcher, 1 adult female
  • Wilson’s Warbler, 2
  • Nashville Warbler, 7
  • Yellow Warbler, 3

Others:

  • Belted Kingfisher, 2
  • Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, 5
  • Swainson’s Hawk, 1
  • Carolina Wren, 1
  • Hummingbird species, 2
  • Chimney Swifts, 5
  • Blue Jay, 6
  • Cave Swallows, 24
  • American Robin, 1
  • Northern Cardinal, 3
  • White-wing Dove, 50+
  • Great Blue Heron, 1
  • Turkey Vulture, 3

Field Trip to Old Fort Phantom Area

ft-phantom-field-trip

There will be a field trip to the Old Fort Phantom Area, Saturday morning, September 23, at 7:30 a.m. We will meet at Denny’s (before 7:30) on FM 600. Come early (6:45 a.m.) for breakfast and we can carpool from the restaurant. Recent sightings suggest Clay-colored Sparrow and warblers might be found. Previous field trips to this area have produced Cactus Wren, Pyrrhuloxia, Lark Bunting, Red-shouldered Hawk, and Curve-billed Thrasher. This will be a half day field trip.

Sept. 20, 2006 – Dyess AFB

At the golf course:

Migrants:

  • Blue Grosbeak, 1
  • Wilson’s Warbler, 2
  • Nashville Warbler, 2
  • Orange-crowned Warbler, 1 (fos)
  • House Wren, 1 (fos)
  • Clay-colored Sparrow, 5 (fos)
  • Painted Bunting, 1
  • Eastern Phoebe, 1
  • Spotted Sandpiper, 1
  • Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, 33
  • Black-chinned Hummingbird, 1

Others:

  • Red-tailed Hawk, 2
  • Mississippi Kite, 1 juvenile, (could be a migrant)
  • White-wing Dove, 9
  • Ladderbacked Woodpecker, 3
  • Bewick’s Wren, 2
  • Northern Mockingbird, 6
  • Blue Jay, 6
  • Mourning Dove, 8
  • Northern Cardinal, 5
  • Black-crested Titmouse, 3
  • Greater Roadrunner, 1
  • Carolina Chickadee, 1
  • Golden-fronted Woodpecker, 2
  • Curve-billed Thrasher, 1
  • Belted Kingfisher, 1
  • Great Blue Heron, 1
  • Swainson’s Hawk, 1 (could be migrant)
  • Eastern Bluebird, 1
  • House Finch, 3
  • Northern Bobwhite, 10
  • Killdeer, 2
  • Lark Sparrow, 1
  • American Crow, 2
  • Turkey Vulture, 3

Sept. 19, 2006 – Great Kiskadee

The Great Kiskadee was heard, seen, and photographed again this morning shortly after 8:30 a.m. For those looking for this bird, I also tried finding it in the afternoon (by playing its call) but it did not respond. Mornings appear to be the best time to look for this bird.

Sept. 18, 2006 – Waste Water

With over 2 inches of rain recorded Sunday, Waste Water caught some water and the shorebirds were plentiful:

Shorebirds:

  • Solitary Sandpiper, 2
  • Semipalmated Sandpiper, 8
  • Least Sandpiper, 32
  • Pectoral Sandpiper, 1
  • Greater Yellowlegs, 48+
  • Lesser Yellowlegs, 24+
  • White-faced Ibis, 20+
  • Wilson’s Phalarope, 1
  • Dowitcher species, 24+

Ducks:

  • Blue-winged Teal, large mixed flock with GWTE, 80+
  • Green-winged Teal
  • Ruddy Duck, 1
  • Northern Shoveler, 4
  • American Wigeon, 1

Others:

  • Loggerhead Shrike, 1
  • Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, 8
  • Blackbird species, 60+
  • Red-tailed Hawk, 1
  • Turkey Vulture, 5

Sept. 17, 2006 – Kiskadee, Mottled Duck, and Others

Best bird(s) of the day:

  • Kiskadee, 1 (photographed and seen by Lorie Black, John English, Laura Packer, Matt White in NE Abilene along Cedar Creek)
  • Mottled Duck, 1 (first seen and photographed by Matt White, 09-16-2006 at Lake Fort Phantom)

Other birds seen around the Buffalo Gap area:

  • Ladder-backed Woodpecker, 2
  • White-winged Dove, 12 (in ne Abilene)
  • Eurasian Collared-Dove
  • Inca Dove, 2
  • Black-crested Titmouse, 3 to 5
  • Carolina Chickadee, 2
  • Ruby-throated Hummingbird, 4
  • Scrub Jay, 3 to 4
  • Carolina Wren, 1
  • Bewick’s Wren, 1
  • Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, 8
  • Loggerhead Shrike, 1
  • American Kestrel, 4
  • Lesser Goldfinch, 2 (ne Abilene residence)

First Pictures of Kiskadee

kiskadee

At last! Pictures! Four of us waited patiently this morning for the kiskadee. After about 2 hours of no luck the brains of the group (Matt White) stated the kiskadee would probably answer a tape if anyone had its call. The Most Knowledgeable Individual Around (inside joke) ran back home, got her iPod, played the kiskadee call, and within 5 minutes the real kiskadee answered back. Not only did he answer The Call, but he posed nicely for John’s camera.

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Way to go, John! I know the light was pathetic and you had to use a high ISO, but we now have diagnostic pictures. No mistaking this bird’s identity. As I’m writing this the temperature outside has dropped to the low 60s; our first front of the season. Will the kiskadee ride out with it or will it be there tomorrow? Stay tuned and in the meantime, enjoy the kiskadee pictures.

kiskadee-flies

(All photos by John English)