Big Country Audubon Society

Stories from September, 2007

September 8, 2007-Waste Water

Highlights:

  • The ducks are here!!
  • Cinnamon Teal, still in eclipsed plumage
  • Pied-billed Grebe, several juveniles with contrasting streaking on the face and neck
  • Little Blue Heron, 1 in a flooded field close to Sea Bee Park
  • Cattle Egret, several hundred
  • White-faced Ibis, numerous! (over 50)
  • Willet, 1

Complete List from Waste Water Treatment Plant:

  • Black-bellied Whistling Duck, 29
  • Gadwall, 8
  • Mallard, 2
  • Blue-winged Teal, 150
  • Northern Shoveler, 10
  • Green-winged Teal, 26
  • Northern Bobwhite, 1
  • Pied-billed Grebe, 23
  • Cattle Egret, 250
  • Green Heron, 1
  • White-faced Ibis, 52
  • Turkey Vulture, 22
  • Common Moorhen, 5
  • American Coot, 44
  • Killdeer, 6
  • Black-necked Stilt, 26
  • American Avocet, 6
  • Spotted Sandpiper, 1
  • Greater Yellowlegs, 35
  • Willet, 1
  • Lesser Yellowlegs, 8
  • Long-billed Dowitcher, 36
  • Wilson’s Phalarope, 28
  • Eurasian Collared-Dove
  • Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, 6
  • Blue Jay, 2
  • Cave Swallow, 2
  • Barn Swallow, 32
  • Northern Mockingbird, 5
  • Northern Cardinal, 1
  • Pyrrhuloxia, 1
  • Dickcissel, 8
  • Red-winged Blackbird, 72
  • Great-tailed Grackle, 18
  • Brown-headed Cowbird, 3

Sea Bee Park

  • Blue-winged Teal, 125
  • Great Egret, 5
  • Little Blue Heron, 1
  • Cattle Egret, 6
  • Green Heron, 1
  • American Coot, 6
  • Great-tailed Grackle, 8

Sightings by L. Black, K. Hampton, LgPacker

September 7, 2007 – DAFB

Highlight:

  • Least Flycatcher, 1
  • Wilson’s Warbler, 1 male foraging among the giant ragweed near the riparian habitat around WSA


Complete List:

  • Wild Turkey, 5
  • Northern Bobwhite, 8 (1 covey)
  • Great Blue Heron, 1
  • Green Heron, 1
  • Turkey Vulture, 3
  • Mississippi Kite, 1
  • Swainson’s Hawk, 1
  • Red-tailed Hawk, 1
  • American Kestrel, 1
  • Rock Pigeon, 25
  • White-winged Dove, 30
  • Mourning Dove, 36
  • Chimney Swift, 5
  • Golden-fronted Woodpecker, 2
  • Ladder-backed Woodpecker, 3
  • Least Flycatcher, 1
  • Western Kingbird, 1
  • Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, 62
  • Blue Jay, 2
  • Cave Swallow, 122
  • Barn Swallow, 8
  • Black-crested Titmouse, 2
  • Cactus Wren, 3
  • Bewick’s Wren, 2
  • Northern Mockingbird, 13
  • Curve-billed Thrasher, 2
  • European Starling, 19
  • Wilson’s Warbler, 1
  • Canyon Towhee, 2
  • Lark Sparrow, 1
  • Northern Cardinal, 3
  • Dickcissel, 4
  • Common Grackle, 5
  • Great-tailed Grackle, 1
  • Brown-headed Cowbird, 1
  • Bullock’s Oriole, 5
  • House Finch, 2
  • House Sparrow, 15

Sightings by LgPacker, in the grasslands and riparian habitat around WSA

It Sure is Quiet These Days; Where Is Everyone?

What a difference a few weeks make. At the end of July the sounds of begging nestlings and singing adults defending territories filled the early morning hours. Now all is quiet as our breeders are slipping out of the Big Country and heading south for the winter. I caught the juvenile Swainson’s hawk at the end of August looking skyward surely contemplating his forthcoming departure.

SWHA_looks_up

If you’re observant you’ll notice some summer regulars still hanging around. I nearly ran over this newly fledged Yellow-billed Cuckoo in a field at Dyess. Movement in the dense grass was suggestive of a small rodent but my curiosity got the better of me as I got out of the truck to see what exactly was in the grass.

YBCU_inhand

After properly documenting its presence I came home and discovered the Yellow-billed Cuckoo has one of the shortest incubation periods, is one of our fastest growing nestlings, and occasionally pairs become intraspecific brood parasites. (They lay their eggs in other Yellow-billed Cuckoo nests.) More information on their behavior is included in the picture gallery.

Some migrants lurk in the undergrowth looking for fast food to fuel their fall journeys. Several warbler species, orioles, and flycatchers such as this Least Flycatcher

Flycatcher

were found utilizing stands of giant ragweed and dense undergrowth. This type of habitat contains lots of pests that only a bird can appreciate. Speaking of pests, this photo came with several big red harvester ant hitchhikers embedded in the photographer’s jeans. As I was photographing the flycatcher the ants thought it appropriate to sample their host’s epidermis. I did what every dedicated birder would do; I slapped at the ants (oh yeah, it really hurt them, they had thick denim protecting them) and concentrated on holding the camera still at the same time. Only after the flycatcher flew off was I able to put down the camera and divert my total attention to removing the little red jerks.

To see other birds photographed at the end of August check out the Where Is Everyone Gallery. To check out other sightings of birds seen in late August check out the Sightings section. Lorie reports hundreds of Great Egrets and Cattle Egrets are being seen in our fields and pastures around Lake Fort Phantom. If you have other sightings not listed here, please let us know who’s showing up at your place; we’d love to hear from you.

September 1-2, 2007 Area Sightings

Highlights of September 1 Lake Fort Phantom sightings:

Sea Bee Park:

  • Little Blue Heron – 7
  • White-faced Ibis – 15
  • Wilson’s Snipe – 6
  • Willet – 1

Near spillway:

  • Least Sandpiper – 10
  • Spotted Sandpiper – 1
  • Willet – 1
  • Snowy Egret – 1
  • Cattle Egrets – hundreds in the pastures around the lake
  • Great Egrets – around 100 in and around Sea Bee Park

Sightings by Lorie Black

September 2, 2007 Cedar Crest Creek

  • Mississippi Kite, 1
  • Red-shouldered Hawk, 1
  • Common Nighthawk, 25 plus
  • Great-crested Flycatcher, 1
  • Carolina Wren, 1
  • Bullock’s Oriole, 1

Sightings by LgPacker in NE Abilene, along Cedar Creek