Big Country Audubon Society

Stories from October, 2006

October 16, 2006 – Lake Kirby and Oakwood

Lake Kirby

Migrants:

  • Greater Egret, 2
  • Snowy Egret, 3
  • Osprey, 1
  • American Avocet, 13
  • Spotted Sandpiper, 1
  • Least Sandpiper, 5
  • Greater Yellowlegs, 2

Returning Wintering Species:

  • Eared Grebe, 7
  • Pied-billed Grebe, 5
  • Double-crested Cormorants, 10
  • Gadwall, 15
  • Northern Shoveler, 4
  • Blue-winged Teal, 1
  • Green-winged Teal, 1
  • American Coot, 300+
  • Common Moorhen, 1 juvenile

Others:

  • Great Blue Heron, 2
  • Belted Kingfisher, 1
  • Pyrrhuloxia, 1
  • Northern Cardinal, 1
  • Red-winged Blackbird, 4

Oakwood Trails

Migrants:

  • Nashville Warbler, 1


Others:

  • Ladder-backed Woodpecker, 1
  • Red-bellied Woodpecker, 1
  • Northern Flicker, 1
  • Blue Jay, 6
  • Black-crested Titmouse, 1
  • House Wren, 1
  • Eastern Bluebird, 4
  • American Robin, 2
  • House Finch, 1

All sightings by Laura Packer

October 14, 2006 – Lake Ft. Phantom

Highlights at Lake Fort Phantom:

  • Osprey, 2
  • Franklin’s Gull, 3
  • Spotted Sandpiper, 3


Others:

  • American Wigeon
  • Northern Pintail
  • Mallard
  • Northern Shoveler
  • Gadwall
  • American Coot
  • Red-tailed Hawk
  • Northern Harrier
  • Least Sandpiper
  • Greater Yellowlegs
  • Savannah Sparrow

All sightings by Lorie Black

October 12, 2006 – NE Abilene – Kirby Lake

Birded along Cedar Creek where the water was deep and best birds by far were the 9 Wood Ducks (7 males, 2 females) clustered together in an early morning swim.

Migrants:

  • Eastern Phoebe, 1
  • Nashville Warbler, 1
  • Common Yellowthroat, 1
  • Orange-crowned Warbler, 2

Others:

  • Great Blue Heron, 1
  • Northern Harrier, 1 (female)
  • Cooper’s Hawk, 1
  • Red-shouldered Hawk, 1
  • Wild Turkey, 6
  • Belted Kingfisher, 1
  • Ladder-backed Woodpecker, 1
  • Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, 6
  • Swallows (probably Cliff, but flying too high to know for sure) 70 +
  • Blue Jay, 8
  • Ruby-crowned Kinglet, 1
  • American Robin, 5
  • Northern Cardinal, 2
  • Lincoln’s Sparrow, 1
  • Red-winged Blackbird, 9
  • House Finch, 6

All sightings by Laura Packer

At Kirby Lake:

  • Redhead, 30
  • Osprey, 2

Kirby Lake sightings by Lorie Black

October 11, 2006 – Mesquite Grove Golf Course

Best bird(s) of the day:

  • Osprey, 1
  • Wood Duck, 1 (female)

Returning wintering birds:

  • Northern Flicker, 1 (red-shafted)
  • Ruby-crowned Kinglet, 2

Others:

  • Pied-billed Grebe, 2
  • Great Blue Heron, 1
  • Ducks in eclipse plumage, 40. Mix of Gadwall, Northern Shoveler, and Teal
  • Red-shouldered Hawk, 2
  • Swainson’s Hawk, 2
  • Wild Turkey, 20
  • American Coot, 1
  • Greater Yellowlegs, 2
  • Rock Pigeon, 1
  • Mourning Dove, 12
  • White-wing Dove, 4
  • Greater Roadrunner, 1
  • Belted Kingfisher, 1
  • Golden-fronted Woodpecker, 1
  • Ladder-backed Woodpecker, 4
  • Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, 5
  • Blue Jay, 8
  • American Crow, 2
  • Black-crested Titmouse, 3
  • Bewick’s Wren, 2
  • Ruby-crowned Kinglet, 2
  • Eastern Bluebird, 13
  • Northern Mockingbird, (oops, didn’t get a number)
  • Northern Cardinal, 2
  • Lincoln’s Sparrow, 1
  • Red-winged Blackbird, 12
  • Meadowlark sp, 1
  • Brown-headed Cowbird, 5
  • House Finch, 5

Best mammal sighting of the day: bobcat!

All sightings by John English and Laura Packer

Blackbird Behavior

YHBL-BHCO-Bow

Today I saw a strange behavior; a Brown-headed Cowbird (BHCO) bowing before a Yellow-headed Blackbird (YHBL). Wherever the YHBL was, the nearest BHCOs would assume a crouching position and lower its head (see above photo). Both sexes of BHCO would “bow” near the YHBL. The BHCO would then move toward the YHBL while keeping its head bowed; the YHBL would react by either flying off or pecking at the BHCO’s head. The BHCOs would not fly when pecked at. The three times I saw this behavior it was the YHBL that would fly off and leave.

YHBL-BHCO-bow2

Can someone comment on this behavior? I could anthropomorphize this behavior and explain it as the little cowbird subjects were bowing to their golden-clad sun god. Or is it the BHCO’s way of telling the YHBL to get lost?

October 9, 2006 – Lake Kirby

Migrants:

  • Osprey, 1
  • American Avocets, 9
  • Black-necked Stilt, 1
  • Greater Yellowlegs, 3
  • Least Sandpiper, 12
  • Forster’s Tern,
  • Great Egret, 6
  • Snowy Egret, 10

Returning Winter Birds:

  • Pied-billed Grebe, 1
  • American Coot, 25
  • Green-winged Teal, 1
  • Gadwall, 1
  • Double-crested Cormorants, 12
  • Ring-billed Gull, 2
  • Herring Gull, 1

Others:

  • Red-tailed Hawk, 1
  • Belted Kingfisher, 1

All sightings by Laura Packer and Dr. Tom Lee and his Monday ecology lab class.

October 7, 2006 – Oakwood & Kirby Lake

Oakwood Trails

Returning Winter Birds:

  • Ruby-crowned Kinglet, 4
  • Northern Flicker, 2; one Red-shafted, one Yellow-shafted
  • House Wren, 1

Others:

  • Eastern Phoebe, 1
  • Cattle Egret, 8
  • Eastern Bluebird, 2
  • Golden-fronted Woodpecker, 1
  • Medowlark sp., 1

Lake Kirby

Migrants:

  • Orange-crowned Warbler, 2
  • Wilson’s Warbler, 1
  • Spotted Sandpiper, 1
  • Least Sandpiper, 8
  • Osprey, 2
  • Forster’s Tern, 18
  • Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, 2
  • Snowy Egret, 9
  • Eastern Phoebe, 1

Returning Winter Birds:

  • Pied-billed Grebe
  • Gadwall, 2
  • American Coot, 280
  • Double-crested Cormorant
  • Marsh Wren, 1
  • Lincoln’s Sparrow, 1
  • Wilson’s Snipe, 1
  • Ruby-crowned Kinglet, 1
  • Spotted Towhee, 1
  • American White Pelican, 1
  • American Crow, 4

Others:

  • Common Moorhen, 1 juvenile
  • Great Blue Heron, 4
  • Golden-fronted Woodpecker, 1
  • Ladder-backed Woodpecker, 1
  • Bewick’s Wren, 1
  • Pyrrhuloxia, 1
  • Blue Jay, 1
  • Northern Cardinal, 3
  • Northern Mockingbird, 5
  • House Finch, 1

All sightings by Lorie Black, Kathy Hampton, and Laura Packer

Osprey Cruises Over Dyess AFB, Early October, 2006

I’ve said it many times before: if you don’t get out and bird, you never know what you could be missing. Such was the case this past week. Birding has been slow, especially with the lack of warblers. I awoke early Tuesday morning and argued with myself whether to stay in bed and get a few more “shut-eyes,” or get out and see what had stopped over to refuel in Abilene (migratory birds have to stop and eat every now and then before moving south). Since two weeks had slipped by since I’d been to Dyess (ah, that kiskadee is so distracting) I decided to check out the activity there.

Osprey

So I’m toolin’ along in the golf cart when the corner of my eye says, “Stop!” I look up and see a very white-breasted hawk staring back at me. “It’s an Osprey!” and I’m really close to the bird. So close I think I’ll scare it off it’s perch. I slowly get out of the cart, barely breathing as I set the scope and camera on the hawk. Click, click, click. I take a few pictures. Mesquite limbs in my way. Slowly move to the right. Click, click, click. Take a few more pictures. Still some branches in the way. Move a step further to the right. Now I’m totally exposed, out in the open but the Osprey doesn’t give me a second look. I’m able to take a few pictures (well, OK, I took 105 pictures the first day, and about that many the next day!). After sending John several pictures and teasing him with them (na-na-na look what I found), he tore himself away from his busy schedule (ah, he was so torn up) and got some stunning action shots of the Osprey.

Hey, don’t fret that you weren’t there. Lorie reported two Ospreys at Lake Fort Phantom. Just get out there and start looking! And by the way, if you don’t get out and bird, you never know what you’ll miss.

October 6, 2006 – Dyess AFB, Mesquite Thorn Shrub Habitat

Best bird(s) of the day:

Verdin, 2 (heard calling to each other)

The migrants:

  • Orange-crowned Warbler, 5
  • Eastern Phoebe, 1
  • House Wren, 4
  • Ash-throated Flycatcher, 1 (This was a surprise. I hadn’t seen ATFL since Sept. 11)
  • Indigo Bunting, 1
  • Clay-colored Sparrow, 4
  • Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, 40+ (Large flocks are migrating through)
  • American Robin, 11 (Cedar Gap is reporting large flocks of robins coming in daily out there)
  • Blue Jay, 14 (Cedar Gap also reporting large flocks of blue jays and scrub jays)
  • White-winged Dove, 83++(they are also forming large migratory flocks. Most were seen flying overhead)

The Returning Winter Residents:

  • Spotted Towhee, 2
  • Ruby-crowned Kinglet, 3
  • Lincoln’s Sparrow, 8
  • American Kestrel, 1

The Other Residents:

  • Northern Bobwhite, 4
  • Pyrrhuloxia, 3
  • Northern Cardinal, 4
  • Curve-billed Thrasher, 3
  • Greater Roadrunner, 1 (sunning in a tree)
  • Canyon Towhee, 1 (with a purple-stained throat from eating ripe prickly pear fruit)
  • Cactus Wren, 2
  • Bewick’s Wren, 2
  • Eastern Bluebird, 1
  • Black-crested Titmouse, 4
  • Northern Mockingbird, 8
  • Mourning Dove, 6
  • House Finch, 11
  • Ladder-backed Woodpecker, 2
  • Golden-fronted Woodpecker, 4
  • Red-tailed Hawk, 1

All sightings made by Laura except the Cedar Gap sightings by Earlene

October 5, 2006 – NE Abilene

At last the warblers and migrants were found moving through along Cedar Creek in NE Abilene. This is the same area the Great Kiskadee was discovered a few weeks back but I did not see or hear any sign of it.

Best bird(s) of the day:

  • Wilson’s Warbler, 4
  • Orange-crowned Warbler, 10
  • Nashville Warbler, 5
  • Yellow-rumped Warbler, 2
  • Common Yellowthroat, 1
  • Indigo Bunting, 3
  • Least Flycatcher, 2
  • Empid, 1

Returning Wintering Birds:

  • Ruby-crowned Kinglet, 3
  • Downy Woodpecker, 1
  • Northern Flicker, Red-shafted, 3
  • Lincoln’s Sparrow, 5
  • Wilson’s Snipe, 1
  • Cooper’s Hawk, 1
  • Lark Sparrow, 2
  • American Crow, 1
  • Double-crested Cormorant, 50

Others:

  • Red-shouldered Hawk, 1
  • Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, 8
  • Belted Kingfisher, 2
  • Hummingbird species, 1
  • Carolina Wren, 1
  • Northern Cardinal, 4
  • American Robin, 5
  • Great Blue Heron, 1
  • Red-winged Blackbird, 2

All sightings by Laura. Winds NNE, calm to 5 mph

Funniest thing seen: an armadillo chasing a skunk. The armadillo followed closely behind the skunk, jumping up into the air a couple of times, causing the skunk to respond by raising its tail. I was about twenty feet away and wishing like crazy the armadillo would back off from its pursuit. How could I go home if I smelled like Pepe Le Pew? Lucky for me the skunk went to the left and the armadillo to the right, both disappearing into the tall grass.