Guadalupe Delta Christmas Bird Count 2015-2016

On Thursday, December 17 I participated in the Guadalupe River Delta Christmas Bird Count. The count circle includes the small town of Tivoli in its southern edge and covers the Womack Ranch and over 10 miles of the Guadalupe River. Brent Ortego with Texas Parks and Wildlife organizes this count and the more famous Mad Island Marsh count (on Matagorda Island) which are usually the second and first highest-species counts in the nation. On the evening of count day with about half the teams reporting, the tally just broke 200 species. I'm waiting to hear what the final species count is.

This year I was assigned to the the Guadalupe River itself. I got to ride on a flat-bottomed boat generously provided by the Womack Ranch and driven by a the ranch foreman. We spent all day covering about 10 miles of the river. Here's the sunrise as I drove the dirt road to the ranch headquarters.

Sunrise headed towards the Womack Ranch

And here's my first view of the water, crossing a small man-made lake before we got onto the river itself:

Sunrise on Guadalupe River

As the photos suggest, the weather was gorgeous: partly cloudy skies, little or no wind, and temperatures ranging from low 40s in the morning to high 60s by mid-afternoon. It was a joy to be out on the river finding birds. This is in stark contrast to some past count days of cold wet misery I remember too well!

I birded from the boat (mostly by ear) and got out several times to make short forays into the woods. The habitat, of course, was dense riparian forest with scattered patches of palmetto. The water was high -- just below the top edge of the banks in most places and about even with the banks in others. Yellow-rumped Warblers and Eastern Phoebes were ubiquitous along the banks everywhere we went. I counted 280 warblers and 46 phoebes, all in ones and twos, throughout the day. Other numerous species seemingly evenly spread out along the river were Carolina Chickadee, Northern Cardinal, Carolina Wren, White-winged Dove, Red-bellied Woodpecker, and Ruby-crowned Kinglet.

Early on we encountered a bright male Yellow-bellied Sapsucker that I thought was a Red-naped until I examined my photos that night. (See my photos in the attached observations below.)

I was most excited to find two Green Kingfishers on the river. This species has expanded its range north into Austin, but they are very hard to detect because they like to stay in dense brush at the edge of rivers and creeks. They are much easier to find when birding on the water than when birding on land. We found the first one in the morning. Can you find it in this photo?

Hidden Green Kingfisher

Here it is out in the open as we passed it by:
Green Kingfisher - 1

And here's the second bird we found in the afternoon:
Green Kingfisher - 3

Other highlights included Anhingas, Great Kiskadees, Pileated Woodpeckers, Couch's Kingbirds, Pine Warblers, hybrid titmice, and two lingering neotropical migrants: a female Black-and-white Warbler and this Least Flycatcher:
Least Flycatcher - 2

(This count is known for finding lingering neotropical migrants, and the above two species were actually expected finds.)

Here's my eBird checklist for the day.

Here are some additional photos.

And attached are all my iNaturalist observations. What a fun day!

Posted by mikaelb mikaelb, December 20, 2015 21:34

Observations

Photos / Sounds

What

Sandhill Crane Antigone canadensis

Observer

mikaelb

Date

December 17, 2015 10:58 AM CST

Photos / Sounds

What

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker Sphyrapicus varius

Observer

mikaelb

Date

December 17, 2015 08:46 AM CST

Description

Taken on the 2015 Guadalupe Delta Christmas Bird Count. I spent the day covering about 10 miles of the Guadalupe river on a flat-bottomed boat generously provided by the Womack Ranch.

In the field I was pretty sure this was a Red-naped Sapsucker. But my photos proved my eye-witness account wrong.

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Ruby-crowned Kinglet Regulus calendula

Observer

mikaelb

Date

December 17, 2015 09:51 AM CST

Description

Taken on the 2015 Guadalupe Delta Christmas Bird Count. I spent the day covering about 10 miles of the Guadalupe river on a flat-bottomed boat generously provided by the Womack Ranch.

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Spotted Sandpiper Actitis macularius

Observer

mikaelb

Date

December 17, 2015 10:06 AM CST

Description

Taken on the 2015 Guadalupe Delta Christmas Bird Count. I spent the day covering about 10 miles of the Guadalupe river on a flat-bottomed boat generously provided by the Womack Ranch.

Photos / Sounds

What

Green Kingfisher Chloroceryle americana

Observer

mikaelb

Date

December 17, 2015 10:33 AM CST

Description

Taken on the 2015 Guadalupe Delta Christmas Bird Count. I spent the day covering about 10 miles of the Guadalupe river on a flat-bottomed boat generously provided by the Womack Ranch.

Here's the first of two male Green Kingfishers I was so excited to see on the river.

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Nine-banded Armadillo Dasypus novemcinctus

Observer

mikaelb

Date

December 17, 2015 11:12 AM CST

Description

Taken on the 2015 Guadalupe Delta Christmas Bird Count. I spent the day covering about 10 miles of the Guadalupe river on a flat-bottomed boat generously provided by the Womack Ranch.

Photos / Sounds

What

Pine Warbler Setophaga pinus

Observer

mikaelb

Date

December 17, 2015 11:23 AM CST

Description

Taken on the 2015 Guadalupe Delta Christmas Bird Count. I spent the day covering about 10 miles of the Guadalupe river on a flat-bottomed boat generously provided by the Womack Ranch.

Photos / Sounds

What

Green Kingfisher Chloroceryle americana

Observer

mikaelb

Date

December 17, 2015 01:42 PM CST

Description

Taken on the 2015 Guadalupe Delta Christmas Bird Count. I spent the day covering about 10 miles of the Guadalupe river on a flat-bottomed boat generously provided by the Womack Ranch.

Here's the second of two male Green Kingfishers I was so excited to see on the river.

Photos / Sounds

What

Least Flycatcher Empidonax minimus

Observer

mikaelb

Date

December 17, 2015 02:33 PM CST

Description

Taken on the 2015 Guadalupe Delta Christmas Bird Count. I spent the day covering about 10 miles of the Guadalupe river on a flat-bottomed boat generously provided by the Womack Ranch.

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Tufted × Black-crested Titmouse Baeolophus bicolor × atricristatus

Observer

mikaelb

Date

December 17, 2015 02:55 PM CST

Description

Taken on the 2015 Guadalupe Delta Christmas Bird Count. I spent the day covering about 10 miles of the Guadalupe river on a flat-bottomed boat generously provided by the Womack Ranch.

This appears to be Tufted Titmouse, but the slightly brown "tuft" is an attribute of a hybrid between Tufted and Black-crested.

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Eastern Phoebe Sayornis phoebe

Observer

mikaelb

Date

December 17, 2015 02:57 PM CST

Description

Taken on the 2015 Guadalupe Delta Christmas Bird Count. I spent the day covering about 10 miles of the Guadalupe river on a flat-bottomed boat generously provided by the Womack Ranch.

Photos / Sounds

What

Virginia Creeper Sphinx Darapsa myron

Observer

mikaelb

Date

December 17, 2015 03:21 PM CST

Description

Taken on the 2015 Guadalupe Delta Christmas Bird Count. I spent the day covering about 10 miles of the Guadalupe river on a flat-bottomed boat generously provided by the Womack Ranch.

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Turkey Vulture Cathartes aura

Observer

mikaelb

Date

December 17, 2015 03:47 PM CST

Description

Taken on the 2015 Guadalupe Delta Christmas Bird Count. I spent the day covering about 10 miles of the Guadalupe river on a flat-bottomed boat generously provided by the Womack Ranch.

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

White Ibis Eudocimus albus

Observer

mikaelb

Date

December 17, 2015 03:47 PM CST

Description

Taken on the 2015 Guadalupe Delta Christmas Bird Count. I spent the day covering about 10 miles of the Guadalupe river on a flat-bottomed boat generously provided by the Womack Ranch.

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Anhinga Anhinga anhinga

Observer

mikaelb

Date

December 17, 2015 03:53 PM CST

Description

Taken on the 2015 Guadalupe Delta Christmas Bird Count. I spent the day covering about 10 miles of the Guadalupe river on a flat-bottomed boat generously provided by the Womack Ranch.

Comments

Thumb

Magnificent -- love seeing these. And spectacular photographs too! :)

Posted by sambiology almost 5 years ago (Flag)

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