Big Country Audubon Society

Stories from October, 2006

October 28-29 – Weekend Birding

October 29: Lake Fort Phantom

Best bird(s) of the day:

Bald Eagle, 1 immature at the south end of Johnston Park


  • Great Egret (6)
  • Northern Pintail
  • Mallard
  • Black-bellied Plover (1)
  • Lesser Yellowlegs (2)
  • Least Sandpiper (14)
  • Franklin’s Gull (1)
  • Bonaparte’s Gull (4)
  • Lots of Ring-billed Gulls
  • American Pipit (1)
  • White-crowned Sparrow
  • Vesper Sparrow

Lake Fort Phantom Sightings by Lorie Black

NE Abilene, Cedar Creek area:

  • Ruby-crowned Kinglet, 1
  • Spotted Towhee, 5
  • Lincoln’s Sparrow, 4
  • Song Sparrow, 3 (fos)

Cedar Creek sightings by Laura Packer

October 28, Saturday:

Kirby Lake

Best bird(s) of the day: the incredible number of pelicans (190) at Kirby and the HUMONGOUS number of ducks (446) at Lake Abilene.

  • Eared Grebe
  • Pied-billed Grebe
  • American White Pelican, 190++
  • Double-crested Cormorants
  • Greater Yellowlegs
  • Belted Kingfisher

Lake Abilene

  • Mallard
  • Gadwall
  • Blue-winged Teal
  • American Wigeon
  • Northern Shoveler
  • Canvasback
  • Redhead
  • Ruddy Duck
  • Lesser Scaup
  • Ring-necked Duck (fos)
  • Bufflehead (fos)
  • American Kestrel
  • Red-tailed Hawk
  • American Coot
  • Killdeer
  • Greater Roadrunner
  • Belted Kingfisher
  • Eastern Phoebe
  • Blue Jay
  • Eastern Bluebird
  • Yellow-rumped Warbler

Kirby and Lake Abilene Sightings by Kathy Hampton and Bill Hughes

Kathy McGinty to Speak at General Meeting, Nov. 2


Kathy McGinty, Regulatory Wildlife Biologist, District 3, with the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department will speak at our November 2nd General Meeting on the Black-capped Vireo and the Golden-cheeked Warbler. Kathy has a masters degree in Wildlife Science from Southwest Texas State University in San Marcos. She has worked for TPWD for 20 years, first on the Kerr Wildlife Management Area for 12 years and now in Abilene for the past 8 years. She will share her work with the Black-capped Vireos and Golden-cheeked Warblers while on the Kerr WMA. Both birds are on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Endangered Species List. Understanding their habitat requirements, breeding behaviors, and the effects of land-use practices in regards to the Brown-headed Cowbird will be presented.

Hope to see you Thursday, November 2, at 7 p.m. at the Rose Park Senior Center, Rm. C, at Barrow and South 7th.

October 24, 2006 – Lake Kirby – Surf Scoter

Best bird(s) of the day:

  • Surf Scoter, 1
  • Common Loons, 3


  • American White Pelican, 50-60; hard to get an accurate count when bunched up.
  • Great Egret, 2
  • Common Moorhen, 1 juv.
  • Northern Harrier, 1
  • American Avocet, 10
  • Least Sandpiper, 12
  • Wilson’s Snipe, 1
  • Winter Wren, 1
  • Pyrrhuloxia, 1
  • Yellow-rumped Warbler, 6

Sightings by Kathy Hampton and Laura Packer. This is not a complete list of species seen; the Surf Scoter was a BIG distraction and listing the birds came to a complete halt. Much the same species as Monday, Oct. 23, 2006.

Surf’s Up At Kirby Lake


Another rare bird for the Big Country, a Surf Scoter. Same song, second verse. I wasn’t birding today, too many chores and the weather wasn’t exactly pleasant. But when Kathy called, I said yes. The last time Surf Scoter was recorded in this area was May of 1999. These birds are hardy seaducks. They breed in northern Canada and Alaska and migrate along the Pacific coast or Atlantic coast. The bird pictured above is a juvenile. It was photographed on Lake Kirby October 23, 2006. It appears to be wearing something around its neck. Other photos can be viewed in the Surf Scoter gallery. To see a picture of an adult Surf Scoter, check out this link.


As an added enjoyment, three Common Loons were also swimming on choppy Lake Kirby. Loons usually are found on much larger, deeper lakes.

So yipee! A neat find today. I understand tomorrow’s weather will be cloudy and rainy. I just may have to go birding again.

Ospreys Over Abilene, Mid-October


More than one Osprey visited the Big Country; two were seen regularly at Lake Fort Phantom and two at Lake Kirby. The Osprey at Dyess AFB (above photo) was photographed again doing what it likes to do: eat fish. Because water plays such an important role in wildlife’s existence, our photos this time reflect birds that depend on water.


These Wood Ducks seen in Cedar Creek in NE Abilene inhabit riparian areas, swamps, or marshes. Evidentally no one told them about dry West Texas.

Check out the Mid-October photo gallery for more Osprey, Wood Ducks, and other birds that depend on water. And if you think these pictures are all about birds, you’d be wrong. John got lucky again and found a bobcat lazing in the warm sun.


October 22-23, 2006 – Lake Kirby

October 22, 2006

Best bird(s) of the day: Western and Horned Grebes

  • Horned Grebe, 3
  • Eared Grebe, 7
  • Western Grebe, 3
  • American White Pelican, 40
  • Gadwall
  • N Shoveler
  • Osprey, 1
  • American Avocet, 10
  • Least Sandpiper, 15

All sightings on the 22nd by Lorie Black

October 23, 2006

Best bird(s) of the day: Winter Wren

  • Eared Grebe, 5
  • Pied-billed Grebe, 6
  • American White Pelican, 60
  • Great Egret, 1
  • Great Blue Heron, 14
  • Gadwall, 7
  • Mallard, 2
  • Redhead, 19
  • Ruddy Duck, 7
  • Canvasback, 2
  • Lesser Scaup, 27
  • Cooper’s Hawk, 1
  • Red-tailed Hawk, 1
  • Osprey, 1
  • American Coot, 250+
  • Killdeer, 6
  • American Avocet, 8
  • Least Sandpiper, 12
  • Spotted Sandpiper, 4
  • Dowitcher sp., 12
  • Ring-billed Gull, 11
  • Mourning Dove, 12
  • Belted Kingfisher, 1
  • Ladder-backed Woodpecker, 1
  • Blue Jay, 1
  • Bewick’s Wren, 1
  • House Wren, 1
  • Winter Wren, 1 (fos)
  • Northern Mockingbird, 25
  • American Pipit, 2 (fos)
  • Orange-crowned Warbler, 5
  • Yellow-rumped Warbler, 7
  • Common Yellowthroat, 1
  • Spotted Towhee, 1
  • Lincoln’s Sparrow, 4
  • White-crowned Sparrow, 6 (fos)
  • Vesper Sparrow, 1
  • Northern Cardinal, 4
  • Red-winged Blackbird, 8
  • House Finch, 3

All sightings on the 23rd by Laura Packer

October 21, 2006 – Fort Phantom Lake

  • Eared Grebe
  • Pied-billed Grebe
  • Double-crested Cormorant
  • Snowy Egret
  • Great Egret
  • Green Heron
  • Great Blue Heron
  • Mallard
  • Green-winged Teal
  • Northern Pintail
  • Northern Shoveler
  • Redhead
  • American Kestrel
  • Northern Harrier
  • Red-tailed Hawk
  • American Coot
  • Killdeer
  • American Avocet
  • Greater Yellowlegs
  • Lesser Yellowlegs
  • Spotted Sandpiper
  • Dowitcher sp.
  • Ring-billed Gull
  • Mourning Dove
  • White-winged Dove
  • Ladder-backed Woodpecker
  • Downy Woodpecker
  • Golden-fronted Woodpecker
  • Northern Flicker, Red Shafted
  • Eastern Phoebe
  • Scissor-tailed Flycatcher
  • Blue Jay
  • Northern Mockingbird
  • Orange-crowned Warbler
  • White-crowned Sparrow
  • Northern Cardinal
  • Meadowlark sp.
  • Red-winged Blackbird
  • Yellow-headed Blackbird
  • Great-tailed Grackle
  • House Sparrow

Sightings by Kathy Hampton, Joan Howard, Bill Hughes, Russell Lee, Foncene Marshall, and Charline Wheeler

October Hummingbird


This little hummingbird is still hanging around the yard when all others have left. Is it a straggling young Black-chinned or something else? I’ve posted pictures of this hummingbird so you can take a look. Under each picture I’ve commented about its field marks such as wing to tail ratio, bill shape, lack of buffiness, faint gray supercilium, etc., that might point to something else other than Black-chinned. Please let me know what you think it is. The white on its forehead is probably frost or pollen.

October 18-19, 2006 – Lake Kirby and Other Areas

October 18, 2006 at Lake Kirby:

Best bird(s) of the day:

  • Eared Grebe (6)
  • Cattle Egret (6)
  • Black-bellied Plover (1)
  • American Avocet (24)
  • Franklin’s Gull (1)


  • Great Egret
  • Snowy Egret
  • Greater Yellowlegs
  • Spotted Sandpiper
  • Ring-billed Gull

All sightings above by Lorie Black

October 19, 2006, State Park and Buffalo Gap Area

  • Sandhill Cranes, (fos) numerous calling from above. Couldn’t find them in the sky though
  • Sharp-shinned Hawk, 1
  • Loggerhead Shrike, 1
  • Scrub Jay, 7
  • Orange-crowned Warbler, 1
  • Nashville Warbler, 1
  • Canyon Towhee, 3
  • Spotted Towhee, 2
  • Chipping Sparrow, 24 (fos)
  • Vesper Sparrow, 1

All Oct. 19th sightings by Kathy Hampton and Laura Packer

Field Trip to Lake Fort Phantom

Join us this Saturday, October 21, for our field trip to Lake Fort Phantom. We will meet at 7:45 a.m. at Alfredo’s at 1009 North Judge Ely Blvd. Come early for breakfast and carpooling. We’ve been scouting this week at the lake and there have been as many as two Ospreys still hanging around. Over 30 Redheads were sighted just recently and each day brings in more of our returning wintering ducks. Bring your binoculars and dress appropriately. If you need more information or have questions, please contact us through this web site or call our hotline at 691-8981.

Hope to see you in the field!