Big Country Audubon Society

Stories from December, 2007

December 30, 2007 – Kirby Lake

Best bird(s) of the day:

  • Common Goldeneye: 1
  • Hooded Merganser: 2
  • Common Moorehen: 1
  • Sedge Wren: 1
  • Common Yellowthroat: 1

Complete List:

  • Gadwall: 10
  • American Wigeon: 20
  • Blue-winged Teal: 1
  • Northern Shoveler: 1
  • Northern Pintail: 1
  • Green-winged Teal: 2
  • Bufflehead: 7
  • Common Goldeneye: 1
  • Hooded Merganser: 2
  • Pied-billed Grebe: 12
  • Eared Grebe: 25
  • American White Pelican: 24
  • Double-crested Cormorant: 80
  • Common Moorhen: 1
  • American Coot: 30
  • Killdeer: 4
  • Spotted Sandpiper: 1
  • Greater Yellowlegs: 5
  • Least Sandpiper: 32
  • Wilson’s Snipe: 1
  • Bonaparte’s Gull: 12
  • Ring-billed Gull: 120
  • Forster’s Tern: 1
  • Rock Pigeon: 2
  • Belted Kingfisher: 1
  • Sedge Wren: 1
  • Ruby-crowned Kinglet: 1
  • Northern Mockingbird: 4
  • Orange-crowned Warbler: 2
  • Common Yellowthroat: 2
  • Spotted Towhee: 1
  • Song Sparrow: 3
  • Lincoln’s Sparrow: 1

Sightings by Cole Wild

Oh My Deer!

Doe

Some one once asked me if we saw other wildlife (other than birds) when on field trips. Yes we do! Many of our members were in the field in November and some of you sent in photos of your encounters such as this beautiful doe seen in Callahan County by Jay Capra.

Deer

During the field trip to O.H. Ivie Reservoir, an eight-point buck stepped out of the brush intent on a mission. He thrilled those of us on this field trip by coming close to the vehicle. He hesitated long enough for a few shots.

Deer

And photos of the most unexpected deer encounter came from Kim Walton, Natural Resources Manager, at Dyess Air Force Base. To see the outcome of this encounter and all the other deer photos, go to Oh My Deer! in the photo gallery section.

So the next time you are looking for birds, pay attention to everything. You never know what’s hiding in the brush!

December 29, 2007-Christmas Bird Count

Complete List (113 species total) of Birds Seen on Christmas Bird Count:

  • Black-bellied Whistling-Duck: 24
  • Canada Goose: 6
  • American Wigeon: 34
  • Gadwall: 70
  • Green-winged Teal: 29
  • Mallard: 129
  • Northern Pintail: 32
  • Northern Shoveler: 16
  • Canvasback: 1
  • Ring-necked Duck: 46
  • Lesser Scaup: 6
  • Bufflehead: 17
  • Common Goldeneye: 1 (cw)
  • Hooded Merganser: 7
  • Wild Turkey: 80
  • Northern Bobwhite:7
  • Western Grebe: 1 (cw)
  • Pied-billed Grebe: 18
  • Eared Grebe: 62
  • American White Pelican: 33
  • Double-crested Cormorant: 21
  • Great Blue Heron: 28
  • Black-crowned Night-Heron: 1
  • Black Vulture: 5
  • Northern Harrier:8
  • Sharp-shinned Hawk: 2
  • Cooper’s Hawk: 3
  • Red-tailed Hawk: 28
  • American Kestrel: 19
  • Common Moorhen: 1 (cw)
  • American Coot: 112
  • Sandhill Crane: 9
  • Killdeer: 27
  • Wilson’s Snipe: 1
  • Greater Yellowlegs: 5
  • Spotted Sandpiper: 2
  • Least Sandpiper: 40
  • Ring-billed Gull: 209
  • Bonaparte’s Gull: 9
  • Forster’s Tern: 1 (cw)
  • Rock Pigeon: 198
  • Eurasian Collared-Dove: 354
  • Mourning Dove: 746
  • White-winged Dove: 79
  • Inca Dove: 6
  • Greater Roadrunner: 3
  • Barn Owl: 1
  • Eastern Screech-Owl: 1
  • Great Horned Owl: 2
  • Belted Kingfisher: 6
  • Golden-fronted Woodpecker: 2
  • Yellow-bellied Sapsucker: 2
  • Ladder-backed Woodpecker: 18
  • Downy Woodpecker: 4
  • Northern Flicker: 3
  • Eastern Phoebe: 6
  • Loggerhead Shrike: 7
  • Blue Jay: 40
  • Western Scrub-Jay: 10
  • American Crow: 5
  • Chihuahuan Raven: 2
  • Common Raven: 1
  • Carolina Chickadee: 9
  • Black-crested Titmouse: 19
  • Red-breasted Nuthatch: 5
  • Brown Creeper: 2
  • Carolina Wren: 1
  • Bewick’s Wren: 14
  • House Wren: 1
  • Marsh Wren: 3
  • Sedge Wren: 1 (cw)
  • Golden-crowned Kinglet: 1
  • Ruby-crowned Kinglet: 9
  • Eastern Bluebird: 30
  • Western Bluebird: 9
  • Mountain Bluebird: 1 (cw)
  • Hermit Thrush: 1 (cw)
  • American Robin: 88
  • Northern Mockingbird: 117
  • Curve-billed Thrasher: 2
  • European Starling: 843
  • Cedar Waxwing: 74
  • Orange-crowned Warbler: 12
  • Yellow-rumped Warbler: 60
  • Common Yellowthroat: 1
  • Spotted Towhee: 4
  • Canyon Towhee: 1
  • Chipping Sparrow: 40
  • Field Sparrow: 15
  • Vesper Sparrow: 75
  • Lark Sparrow: 2
  • Lark Bunting: 31
  • Savannah Sparrow: 8
  • Song Sparrow: 9
  • Lincoln’s Sparrow: 4
  • White-crowned Sparrow: 95
  • Harris’s Sparrow: 2
  • Dark-eyed Junco: 95
  • Northern Cardinal: 46
  • Pyrrhuloxia: 4
  • Red-winged Blackbird: 321
  • Meadowlark species: 503
  • Eastern Meadowlark: 42
  • Western Meadowlark: 76
  • Common Grackle: 64
  • Great-tailed Grackle: 52
  • Brown-headed Cowbird: 604
  • Cassin’s Finch: 2
  • House Finch: 36
  • Red Crossbill: 2
  • Pine Siskin: 95
  • Lesser Goldfinch: 6
  • American Goldfinch: 104
  • House Sparrow: 327

Participants: Lorie Black, Tom and Toni Dolan, June Estes, Joan Howard, Joan Hoyumpa, Earlene Hutto, Tom Lee, Steve and Dolores Owens, Laura Packer, Julie Ryan, Marsha Stephens, Dan Symonds, Heidi Trudell, Kim Walton, Charline Wheeler, W.K. and Carolyn Wiggins, Cole Wild

Pectoral Sandpiper, Dunlin at Wastewater; Red Crossbills in Buffalo Gap

PESA

Saturday, December 22, 2007, Heidi Trudell and Cole Wild found this Pectoral Sandpiper at Wastewater Treatment Plant. This is a very very late date for a Pectoral; and if you’re interested in what else they saw this cold and windy day, take a look at their Sightings!

Red_Crossbill_LDB.jpg

Also, Mark Cranford from Midland reported a small flock of Red Crossbills in Buffalo Gap in pecan trees across the street from the Historic Village main gate. Lorie Black managed to get their photo on New Year’s Day (above). The last time we had crossbills in the Big Country was 1997 when a small flock of 17 was seen regularly at a NE Abilene resident from April through July (I’ll get those exact dates if anyone is interested).

Dunlin_LESA

Then on January 1, 2008, Cole Wild and Heidi Trudell stopped at Wastewater after work (anyone else work on New Year’s?) and found this Dunlin. Dunlins are very rare inland according to the TOS Handbook of Texas Birds. The bird on the right is a Least Sandpiper, to give you a size comparison and below is a closeup of the Dunlin. So congrats to them for spotting this cool sighting.

Dunlin

Thanks to all for reporting your sightings!

December 22, 2007-Jones County

Heidi Trudell and Cole Wild (new birder to Abilene) braved the very cold and very windy outskirts of Abilene in search of anything with feathers:

Best bird(s):

Wastewater Treatment Plant:

  • Ross’s Goose: 1
  • Pectoral Sandpiper: 1 (very late date; Cole was able to photograph it)
  • Say’s Phoebe: 2 (very late date)
  • Scissor-tailed Flycatcher: 2 (very late date)
  • Swamp Sparrow: 1 (to be expected but hard to find)


Lake Fort Phantom:

  • Canvasback: 1
  • Bald Eagle: 1 (adult, not the November Kirby bird)
  • Bonaparte’s Gull: 3 (about as many also seen at Kirby)
  • Forster’s Tern: 9 (a few also present at Kirby)

Complete List:

Kirby Lake (Panhandle Plains Site 005)

  • Pied-billed Grebe: 2
  • Eared Grebe: 8
  • American White Pelican: 17
  • Great Blue Heron: 2
  • Snowy Egret: 3
  • American Coot: 15
  • Killdeer: 2
  • Greater Yellowlegs: 1
  • Least Sandpiper: 5
  • Wilson’s Snipe: 1
  • Bonaparte’s Gull: 4
  • Ring-billed Gull: 60
  • Forster’s Tern: 3
  • Belted Kingfisher: 1

Lake Fort Phantom:

  • Gadwall : 40
  • Northern Shoveler: 25
  • Canvasback: 1
  • Pied-billed Grebe: 5
  • Eared Grebe: 6
  • Double-crested Cormorant: 7
  • Bald Eagle: 1
  • Northern Harrier: 1
  • Red-tailed Hawk: 1
  • American Coot: 200
  • Sandhill Crane: 16
  • Killdeer: 3
  • Greater Yellowlegs: 4
  • Least Sandpiper: 6
  • Bonaparte’s Gull: 3
  • Ring-billed Gull: 175
  • Forster’s Tern: 9
  • Black-crested Titmouse: 1
  • Bewick’s Wren: 1
  • American Pipit: 1
  • Yellow-rumped Warbler: 1
  • Song Sparrow: 2
  • White-crowned Sparrow: 4
  • Eastern Meadowlark: 4


Cedar Gap Farm (Panhandle Plains Site 006)

  • Carolina Chickadee: 1
  • Red-breasted Nuthatch: 1
  • Yellow-rumped Warbler: 1
  • Chipping Sparrow: 30
  • Field Sparrow: 1
  • White-throated Sparrow: 1
  • White-crowned Sparrow: 1
  • Dark-eyed Junco: 12
  • Northern Cardinal: 5
  • Pine Siskin: 3
  • American Goldfinch: 2

Abilene Wastewater Treatment (Jones Co.)

  • Ross’s Goose: 1
  • Canada Goose: 10
  • Gadwall: 35
  • American Wigeon: 1
  • Mallard: 6
  • Blue-winged Teal: 6
  • Northern Shoveler: 60
  • Northern Pintail: 80
  • Green-winged Teal: 25
  • Ring-necked Duck: 3
  • Lesser Scaup: 3
  • Bufflehead: 4
  • Ruddy Duck: 12
  • Pied-billed Grebe: 2
  • Eared Grebe: 4
  • Northern Harrier: 3
  • Red-tailed Hawk: 1
  • American Kestrel: 1
  • American Coot: 70
  • Killdeer: 2
  • Least Sandpiper: 7
  • Pectoral Sandpiper: 1
  • Long-billed Dowitcher: 20
  • Ring-billed Gull: 20
  • Mourning Dove: 1
  • Say’s Phoebe: 2
  • Scissor-tailed Flycatcher: 2
  • Loggerhead Shrike: 1
  • Northern Mockingbird: 1
  • European Starling: 10
  • Common Yellowthroat: 1
  • Vesper Sparrow: 1
  • Song Sparrow: 4
  • Swamp Sparrow: 1
  • White-crowned Sparrow: 12
  • Red-winged Blackbird: 50
  • Western Meadowlark: 4
  • Brown-headed Cowbird: 20
  • House Finch: 1

Sightings by Heidi Trudell and Cole Wild

December 20, 2007-Lake Kirby

Highlights:

  • American White Pelican – 50+
  • Eared Grebe – 15
  • Horned Grebe – 2
  • Bufflehead – 2
  • Common Moorehen – 2
  • Spotted Sandpiper – 1
  • Greater Yellowlegs – 2
  • Lesser Yellowlegs – 1
  • Least Sandpiper – 3
  • Bonaparte’s Gull – 4

Sightings by Lorie Black

Christmas Social, 2007

Poinsetta

Big Country Audubon had another wonderful Christmas Social this past December, 2007. And like the 2006 social, I got a little inventive on the captions. Thanks to everyone for making 2007 a great year! Pictures are up at Christmas Social 2007.

And, did you know Tom, Toni, Carolyn, and WK found THE rarest bird ever recorded on Christmas Bird Count? It was a very rare bird for the Abilene area and I’m pretty sure it’s the rarest seen in North America. Ornithologists are still trying to determine how to classify it. For a complete list of birds seen on our 2007 CBC, check out the Christmas Bird Count 2007 list. Anyone wanting a copy for their personal records, let me know and I’ll get one to you.

December 13, 2007-Abilene S.P. and DAFB

Best bird(s) of the morning:

  • Red-shouldered Hawk: 1, DAFB
  • Red-tailed Hawk: 5, DAFB. Best because all were distinctly differently plumaged birds. One was “normal,” one was the white morph, one was a completely dark morph, one had very big splotchy belly band, and the other had no belly band.
  • Wilson’s Snipe: 1, DAFB
  • Red-breasted Nuthatch: 3, AbiSP
  • Brown Creeper: 3, one at DAFB, two at AbiSP
  • Hermit Thrush: 1, AbiSP
  • Lesser Goldfinch: 1, DAFB; first time to record at DAFB


Complete List:

  • Gadwall: 18, DAFB
  • Mallard: 4, DAFB
  • Northern Shoveler: 4, DAFB
  • Wild Turkey: 13, DAFB
  • Pied-billed Grebe: 1, DAFB
  • Great Blue Heron: 1, DAFB
  • Black Vulture: 2, AbiSP
  • Red-shouldered Hawk: 1, DAFB
  • Red-tailed Hawk: 5, DAFB
  • Sandhill Crane: heard only while at AbiSP
  • Killdeer: 12, DAFB
  • Wilson’s Snipe: 1, DAFB
  • Ring-billed Gull: 1, DAFB
  • Rock Pigeon: 13, DAFB
  • Mourning Dove: 11, DAFB
  • White-winged Dove: 4, DAFB
  • Belted Kingfisher: 1, DAFB
  • Golden-fronted Woodpecker: 5, DAFB
  • Ladder-backed Woodpecker: 2, DAFB
  • Northern Flicker: 1, DAFB
  • Blue Jay: 9, DAFB
  • American Crow: 2, DAFB
  • Carolina Chickadee: 1, AbiSP
  • Black-crested Titmouse: 2, one at each place
  • Red-breasted Nuthatch: 3, AbiSP
  • Brown Creeper: 3, 1 @DAFB, 2@AbiSP
  • Bewick’s Wren: 3, DAFB
  • Ruby-crowned Kinglet: 2, one at each place
  • Eastern Bluebird: 8, DAFB
  • Hermit Thrush: 1, AbiSP
  • Northern Mockingbird: 9, DAFB
  • European Starling: 25, DAFB
  • Orange-crowned Warbler: 1, DAFB
  • Yellow-rumped Warbler: 9@DAFB, 10@AbiSP, with a mixture of Audubon’s and Myrtle’s
  • Spotted Towhee: 2@DAFB, 1@AbiSP
  • Canyon Towhee: 1, DAFB
  • Field Sparrow: 8, DAFB
  • Savannah Sparrow: 2, DAFB
  • Song Sparrow: 10, DAFB
  • Lincoln’s Sparrow: 1, DAFB
  • White-crowned Sparrow: 12, DAFB; 1@Abi SP
  • White-throated Sparrow: 1, AbiSP
  • Dark-eyed Junco: 11, DAFB
  • Northern Cardinal: 3, DAFB
  • Western Meadowlark: 48 DAFB
  • Great-tailed Grackle: 22, DAFB
  • House Finch: 6, DAFB
  • Pine Siskin: 1@DAFB, 45@AbiSP
  • Lesser Goldfinch: 1, DAFB
  • American Goldfinch: 10@ DAFB; 35@ AbiSP
  • House Sparrow: 1, DAFB

Sightings by LgPacker

December 8, 2007-Lake Ivie

Best bird(s) of the trip:

  • Hooded Merganser: 2
  • Common Loon: 12, with one vocalizing
  • Horned Grebe: 8
  • Sora: 1
  • Say’s Phoebe: 2
  • Brown Creeper: 1
  • Rock Wren: 1
  • Canyon Wren: 1
  • House Wren: 1
  • Marsh Wren: 4
  • Common Yellowthroat: 1

Complete List:

  • American Wigeon: 16
  • Green-winged Teal: 8
  • Mallard: 30
  • Blue-winged Teal: 15
  • Canvasback: 5
  • Redhead: 8
  • Ring-necked Duck: 4
  • Bufflehead: 1
  • Hooded Merganser: 2
  • Wild Turkey: 41
  • Common Loon: 12
  • Pied-billed Grebe: 3
  • Horned Grebe: 8
  • American White Pelican: 134
  • Double-crested Cormorant: 75
  • Great Blue Heron: 6
  • Black Vulture: 55
  • Red-tailed Hawk: 9
  • Osprey: 5
  • American Kestrel: 36
  • Sora: 1
  • American Coot: 450
  • Killdeer: 1
  • Wilson’s Snipe: 1
  • Greater Yellowlegs: 2
  • Ring-billed Gull: 6
  • Mourning Dove: 36
  • Belted Kingfisher: 2
  • Golden-fronted Woodpecker: 2
  • Ladder-backed Woodpecker: 2
  • Eastern Phoebe: 3
  • Say’s Phoebe: 2
  • Loggerhead Shrike: 12
  • American Crow: 2
  • Common Raven: 2
  • Carolina Chickadee: 4
  • Black-crested Titmouse: 2
  • Brown Creeper: 1
  • Cactus Wren: 2
  • Rock Wren: 1
  • Canyon Wren: 1
  • Bewick’s Wren: 2
  • House Wren: 1
  • Marsh Wren: 4
  • Ruby-crowned Kinglet: 2
  • Eastern Bluebird: 1 heard only
  • Northern Mockingbird: 14
  • Curve-billed Thrasher: 1
  • Orange-crowned Warbler: 1
  • Yellow-rumped Warbler: 2
  • Common Yellowthroat: 1
  • Spotted Towhee: 2
  • Canyon Towhee: 4
  • Chipping Sparrow: 4
  • Field Sparrow: 1
  • Vesper Sparrow: 8
  • Lark Bunting: 24
  • Song Sparrow: 3, heard only
  • Lincoln’s Sparrow: 1
  • White-crowned Sparrow: 14
  • Northern Cardinal: 2
  • Pyrrhuloxia: 2
  • Eastern Meadowlark: 12
  • Western Meadowlark: 36
  • Great-tailed Grackle: 48
  • Brown-headed Cowbird: 285
  • House Finch: 5
  • American Goldfinch: 3
  • House Sparrow: 1

Mammal Sightings: Porcupine: 1; White-tailed Deer: 2 that deserved photos (which I’ll post later); and coyote: 1.
Sightings by LgPacker and Dan Symonds

Dark Raptor and After Dark Wildlife

BAEA_Juvie

I want to share some photos others sent in. These photos and sightings have added another level of understanding about the birds and wildlife in the Big Country. Diane Longenecker, Bird Supervisor from the Abilene Zoo, sent me two photos of an injured dark raptor, the face of which you see here. The photo gallery explains what it is.

CoonFamily

Kim Walton, Natural Resources Manager from Dyess AFB, sent a couple of photos of cavorting after-dark wildlife captured on a digital field camera. Racoons weren’t the only mammals that showed up in the images.

Roadkill

Heidi Trudell, birder-at-large, sent a couple of photos of Lake Kirby’s not-so-wildlife (above);

RTHA_White

and I included a couple of contrasting Red-tailed Hawk pictures to illustrate just how variable their plumage is. You can see all these pictures at November’s Wildlife Gallery.

And if you’re interested in what’s happening to the jaeger, here’s Heidi’s report from Lake Kirby at the end of November:

I made it out to Kirby for about an hour today, (11-28) not particularly in the name of birding, but the results were about the same. I did not relocate the jaeger but a fellow that I’ve seen every time I was out there said that “the huge brown gull” was around as recently as yesterday. He’s a local who spends most of his time fishing and what impressed me most about his remarks was that he actually told the other folks out there to keep an eye out for the bird after he found out that a lot of us were interested in it. Apparently over the weekend he and his friend were fishing on the SW corner of the lake and while they were tossing bait scraps (or some equally delicious fare) into the lake, the jaeger swooped down and grabbed at the bits – getting tangled in the line in the process. At this point the details of the story get blurry and the jaeger’s size increases to a wing span THIS big and the toes turn into claw/talons like a lion and it apparently took gloves, 2 people and a lot of untangling to get the bird free again. Good to know they’re looking out for the wildlife.

Thanks to all for sending in your photos and stories!