Port Aransas Christmas Bird Count 2018-12-17

Once again I got to participate in my original hometown's Christmas Bird Count this year, the Port Aransas CBC on December 17. This was its 42nd year! This year I counted birds in Aransas Pass, the town on the mainland just west of Mustang Island. The count circle was created to include Aransas pass so we could get species that don't occur on the island, like most woodpeckers, Black Vulture, and many songbird species like Black-crested Titmouse and Carolina Wren.

I've never birded Aransas Pass, and the folks who used to cover this area were not available to share their experience. Aransas Pass has lots of good dense oak woods habitat, but it's almost all private property. I ended up relying on my iPhone to plan and perform the count. Before count day I drove around Aransas Pass and recorded possible good birding spots as GPS waypoints in my Gaia GPS app. On count day I drove to most of these points and at each one got out and counted birds. (I wore a reflective safety vest to look a little more official, and to be more visible to cars.)

Many points were just on roads in neighborhoods near dense woods. At each point I made a separate eBird location and checklist using the mobile eBird app. I used David Sibley's field guide app to play an Eastern Screech-Owl recording to attract songbirds at most points. Throughout the day I kept a paper list of birds I saw between points, and at the end of the day I put these birds on a new incidental eBird checklist. Then at the end of the day, using the Trips feature of the eBird iPhone app, I had my complete bird list. (Unfortunately at this time, the Android version of the eBird app does not have the Trips feature.)

To record effort, at the beginning of the day I started recording my path in the Gaia GPS app and reset my car's trip odometer. At the end of the day I had my car miles on the car's odometer, and got my foot miles by subtracting the car miles from the total miles on my phone's GPS path distance. Hours in car and on foot were estimated.

So how was the birding? It was pretty good for my first time in this area! I found 85 species and here are some highlights. The Don-Ell RV park was one of my first stops and it turned out to be great. In their pond were a pair of Mottled Ducks, Least Grebes, and this Anhinga:

Anhinga - 1

The dense woods and brush around their pond had lots of invasive Brazilian Pepper bushes and Chinese Tallow trees, but it also had lots of Gray Catbirds, Yellow-rumped Warblers, Common Yellowthroats, Hermit Thrushes, and this first-winter Black-throated Green Warbler:

Black-throated Green Warbler - 1

At the neighborhood points I found lots of Eastern Phoebes, House Wrens, Yellow-rumped Warblers, Northern Cardinals, a few Carolina Wrens, Black-crested Titmice, and White-eyed Vireos, a Pine Warbler, a Blue-headed Vireo, a Golden-fronted Woodpecker, and even had a flock of Snow Geese fly over me:

Snow Goose Flock - 1

The area around the Prairie View Cemetery was a good spot. I found a Loggerhead Shrike, a pair of Red-tailed Hawks, three Vermilion Flycatchers, and my only Yellow-bellied Sapsucker of the day, eating Chinese Tallow Tree berries:

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker - 1

Colleen Simpson (@colleenm) had previously created a Google Map of the Port Aransas count circle with all the separate areas marked. The day after the count I figured out how to add my Aransas Pass waypoints to it as a separate layer. Each has some notes about the spot. Hopefully we can build on Colleen's map to help us plan and improve the count in the future. Here were my Aransas Pass areas and waypoints:

Screen Shot 2018-12-23 at 1.28.44 PM

Here are a few more photos on Flickr. And see attached observations below.

Posted by mikaelb mikaelb, December 23, 2018 20:59

Observations

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Couch's Kingbird Tyrannus couchii

Observer

mikaelb

Date

December 17, 2018 03:32 PM CST

Description

Taken during the 42nd Port Aransas Christmas Bird Count. For the first time I covered the Aransas Pass area this year.

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Monarch Danaus plexippus

Observer

mikaelb

Date

December 17, 2018 03:20 PM CST

Description

Taken during the 42nd Port Aransas Christmas Bird Count. For the first time I covered the Aransas Pass area this year.

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Band-winged Dragonlet Erythrodiplax umbrata

Observer

mikaelb

Date

December 17, 2018 03:18 PM CST

Description

Taken during the 42nd Port Aransas Christmas Bird Count. For the first time I covered the Aransas Pass area this year.

Photos / Sounds

What

Gulf Fritillary Agraulis vanillae

Observer

mikaelb

Date

December 17, 2018 03:17 PM CST

Description

Taken during the 42nd Port Aransas Christmas Bird Count. For the first time I covered the Aransas Pass area this year.

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Osprey Pandion haliaetus

Observer

mikaelb

Date

December 17, 2018 03:12 PM CST

Description

Taken during the 42nd Port Aransas Christmas Bird Count. For the first time I covered the Aransas Pass area this year.

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Common Loon Gavia immer

Observer

mikaelb

Date

December 17, 2018 02:40 PM CST

Description

Taken during the 42nd Port Aransas Christmas Bird Count. For the first time I covered the Aransas Pass area this year.

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Pin-tailed Pondhawk Erythemis plebeja

Observer

mikaelb

Date

December 17, 2018 01:41 PM CST

Description

Taken during the 42nd Port Aransas Christmas Bird Count. For the first time I covered the Aransas Pass area this year.

Taken near the Prairie View Cemetery.

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Osprey Pandion haliaetus

Observer

mikaelb

Date

December 17, 2018 01:33 PM CST

Description

Taken during the 42nd Port Aransas Christmas Bird Count. For the first time I covered the Aransas Pass area this year.

Taken near the Prairie View Cemetery.

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Vermilion Flycatcher Pyrocephalus rubinus

Observer

mikaelb

Date

December 17, 2018 01:31 PM CST

Description

Taken during the 42nd Port Aransas Christmas Bird Count. For the first time I covered the Aransas Pass area this year.

Taken near the Prairie View Cemetery. This is one of THREE male Vermilion Flycatchers that were in the immediate area.

Photos / Sounds

What

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker Sphyrapicus varius

Observer

mikaelb

Date

December 17, 2018 01:25 PM CST

Description

Taken during the 42nd Port Aransas Christmas Bird Count. For the first time I covered the Aransas Pass area this year.

Taken near the Prairie View Cemetery.

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Vermilion Flycatcher Pyrocephalus rubinus

Observer

mikaelb

Date

December 17, 2018 01:29 PM CST

Description

Taken during the 42nd Port Aransas Christmas Bird Count. For the first time I covered the Aransas Pass area this year.

Taken near the Prairie View Cemetery. This is one of THREE male Vermilion Flycatchers that were in the immediate area.

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Red-tailed Hawk Buteo jamaicensis

Observer

mikaelb

Date

December 17, 2018 01:09 PM CST

Description

Taken during the 42nd Port Aransas Christmas Bird Count. For the first time I covered the Aransas Pass area this year.

Taken near the Prairie View Cemetery.

Photos / Sounds

What

Pine Warbler Setophaga pinus

Observer

mikaelb

Date

December 17, 2018 11:44 AM CST

Description

Taken during the 42nd Port Aransas Christmas Bird Count. For the first time I covered the Aransas Pass area this year.

Photos / Sounds

What

Golden-fronted Woodpecker Melanerpes aurifrons

Observer

mikaelb

Date

December 17, 2018 11:34 AM CST

Description

Taken during the 42nd Port Aransas Christmas Bird Count. For the first time I covered the Aransas Pass area this year.

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

House Wren Troglodytes aedon

Observer

mikaelb

Date

December 17, 2018 11:31 AM CST

Description

Taken during the 42nd Port Aransas Christmas Bird Count. For the first time I covered the Aransas Pass area this year.

Photos / Sounds

What

Snow Goose Anser caerulescens

Observer

mikaelb

Date

December 17, 2018 10:47 AM CST

Description

Taken during the 42nd Port Aransas Christmas Bird Count. For the first time I covered the Aransas Pass area this year.

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Variegated Meadowhawk Sympetrum corruptum

Observer

mikaelb

Date

December 17, 2018 09:38 AM CST

Description

Taken during the 42nd Port Aransas Christmas Bird Count. For the first time I covered the Aransas Pass area this year.

I don't know if this is an Autumn Meadowhawk or a Variegated Meadowhawk.

Photos / Sounds

What

Black-throated Green Warbler Setophaga virens

Observer

mikaelb

Date

December 17, 2018 08:37 AM CST

Description

Taken during the 42nd Port Aransas Christmas Bird Count. For the first time I covered the Aransas Pass area this year.

This photo was taken at the Don-Ell RV park, which turned out to be an amazing spot for birds.

My most unexpected bird of the day was this first-winter Black-throated Green Warbler.

Photos / Sounds

What

Least Grebe Tachybaptus dominicus

Observer

mikaelb

Date

December 17, 2018 08:28 AM CST

Description

Taken during the 42nd Port Aransas Christmas Bird Count. For the first time I covered the Aransas Pass area this year.

This photo was taken at the Don-Ell RV park, which turned out to be an amazing spot for birds.

Photos / Sounds

What

Anhinga Anhinga anhinga

Observer

mikaelb

Date

December 17, 2018 08:27 AM CST

Description

Taken during the 42nd Port Aransas Christmas Bird Count. For the first time I covered the Aransas Pass area this year.

This photo was taken at the Don-Ell RV park, which turned out to be an amazing spot for birds.

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Mottled Duck Anas fulvigula

Observer

mikaelb

Date

December 17, 2018 08:25 AM CST

Description

Taken during the 42nd Port Aransas Christmas Bird Count. For the first time I covered the Aransas Pass area this year.

This photo was taken at the Don-Ell RV park, which turned out to be an amazing spot for birds.

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