Journal archives for December 2019

December 17, 2019

Corpus Christi CBC 2019-12-14

I was again fortunate to be able to participate in the Corpus Christi Christmas Bird Count on the Angelita Ranch with Joan and Scott Holt and Mel Cooksey. We split up into two groups to cover the ranch, and Mel and I drove the truck trails in his subaru. We frequently stopped to bird, playing an Eastern Screech-Owl recording to see what it attracted. Highlights included southern and western species like Verdin, Green Jay, Long-billed Thrasher, Great Kiskadee, and Pyrrhuloxia. At the end of the day driving off the ranch Joan and Scott and I found a single Green Kingfisher at a creek crossing.

Attached are a few observations.

Posted on December 17, 2019 22:27 by mikaelb mikaelb | 23 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

December 18, 2019

Port Aransas CBC 2019-12-16

I was happy to help out on the 43rd Port Aransas Christmas Bird Count yesterday. I covered the Aransas Pass area for the second year. The count circle is centered between Port Aransas and Aransas Pass since many year-round and winter-resident songbird species don't occur on Mustang Island. I had limited success finding them this year. I'm still discovering the secrets to birding Aransas Pass.

Judging from Google Maps, Aransas Pass has lots of dense woods that looks like good songbird habitat, but very little of it is publicly accessible. It's mostly divided up into large residential lots in semi-rural neighborhoods. In the few areas where I could actually enter some woods and at several roadside spots I played an Eastern Screech-Owl recording to see what songbirds it attracted. The woods were loaded with Gray Catbirds, Hermit Thrushes, Ruby-crowned Kinglets, Yellow-rumped Warblers, Northern Cardinals, Lincoln's Sparrows, and Eastern Phoebes.

After I'd left one of the few publicly accessible areas, the local transfer station (AKA the dump), I saw a flock of dozens of Yellow-rumped Warblers crossing one of the residential streets (appropriately named Myrtle). I quickly pulled over to look closer and found a Couch's Kingbird, two Eastern Bluebirds, and a single Pine Warbler. I think there were probably more Pine Warblers and maybe more species mixed in this large flock, but it was scared away by a large truck and I could not relocate it.

Among the many (sometimes scary) no trespassing signs, it made my day when a resident asked what I was doing and then invited me onto her property to look for birds. I found my only White-eyed Vireo, Black-crested Titmouse, Chipping Sparrows, and Great Kiskadee of the day there, and got her contact info for next year. I emailed her a list of the 15 species I found on her property.

Here are my photos from the day on Flickr. Most of these are also attached as iNaturalist observations below.

Here's my eBird summary of the day, and attached are some observations.

eBird Checklist Summary for: Dec 16, 2019

Number of Checklists: 17
Number of Taxa: 73

Checklists included in this summary:
(1): AP - RV Park 128 E Myrtle Ave, Aransas Pass US-TX (27.9149,-97.1366)
Date: Dec 16, 2019 at 7:30 AM
(2): AP - 650–656 W Matlock Ave, Aransas Pass US-TX (27.9118,-97.1482)
Date: Dec 16, 2019 at 7:49 AM
(3): AP - 354 N 9th St, Aransas Pass US-TX (27.9149,-97.1513)
Date: Dec 16, 2019 at 8:02 AM
(4): AP - transfer station - 750–848 W Myrtle Ave, Aransas Pass US-TX (27.9195,-97.1453)
Date: Dec 16, 2019 at 9:05 AM
(5): 328 W Myrtle Ave, Aransas Pass US-TX (27.9169,-97.1403)
Date: Dec 16, 2019 at 9:36 AM
(6): AP - cemetery - 2140 Highway 35 N, Aransas Pass US-TX (27.9368,-97.1222)
Date: Dec 16, 2019 at 9:51 AM
(7): AP - 1902 N McCampbell St, Aransas Pass US-TX (27.9332,-97.1298)
Date: Dec 16, 2019 at 10:45 AM
(8): AP - 2302 N McCampbell St, Aransas Pass US-TX (27.9390,-97.1254)
Date: Dec 16, 2019 at 10:57 AM
(9): AP - 483–523 Rabbit Run Rd, Aransas Pass US-TX (27.9432,-97.1318)
Date: Dec 16, 2019 at 11:06 AM
(10): AP - 1109–1273 Longoria Rd, Aransas Pass US-TX (27.9489,-97.1341)
Date: Dec 16, 2019 at 11:26 AM
(11): AP - 1109–1273 Longoria Rd, Aransas Pass US-TX (27.9489,-97.1341)
Date: Dec 16, 2019 at 11:27 AM
(12): Ingleside--FM1069/Elephant Wallow Pond
Date: Dec 16, 2019 at 1:18 PM
(13): AP - Prairie View Cemetery - 2218–2498 McMullen Ln, Aransas Pass US-TX (27.9186,-97.1812)
Date: Dec 16, 2019 at 1:34 PM
(14): Aransas Pass Community Pk (CTC 054)
Date: Dec 16, 2019 at 2:15 PM
(15): AP - 592–698 E Ransom Rd, Aransas Pass US-TX (27.8884,-97.1479)
Date: Dec 16, 2019 at 3:01 PM
(16): Conn Brown Harbor, Aransas Pass (Aransas Co. portion)
Date: Dec 16, 2019 at 3:13 PM
(17): AP - Aransas Pass general area
Date: Dec 16, 2019 at 7:21 AM

5 Northern Shoveler -- (1)
2 Mottled Duck -- (16)
540 Redhead -- (16)
15 Ring-necked Duck -- (11)
2 Lesser Scaup -- (15),(16)
1 Bufflehead -- (14)
14 Red-breasted Merganser -- (16)
40 duck sp. -- (16)
32 Pied-billed Grebe -- (11),(14),(16),(17)
17 Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon) -- (2),(14),(15),(16),(17)
10 Eurasian Collared-Dove -- (1),(11),(17)
17 White-winged Dove -- (2),(3),(5),(17)
37 Mourning Dove -- (3),(5),(6),(12),(13),(16)
1 Common Gallinule -- (1)
3 American Coot -- (11)
8 Sandhill Crane -- (17)
5 Killdeer -- (7),(13),(14),(16)
76 Laughing Gull -- (1),(11),(14),(15),(16),(17)
10 Ring-billed Gull -- (14),(15),(16)
2 Royal Tern -- (14),(16)
3 Common Loon -- (16)
37 Neotropic Cormorant -- (1),(14),(15),(16)
21 Double-crested Cormorant -- (14),(16)
16 American White Pelican -- (3),(17)
56 Brown Pelican -- (14),(15),(16)
8 Great Blue Heron -- (1),(13),(14),(16)
6 Great Egret -- (11),(14),(16),(17)
15 Snowy Egret -- (1),(11),(14),(17)
2 Little Blue Heron -- (14),(16)
4 Tricolored Heron -- (14),(15),(16)
30 Black-crowned Night-Heron -- (1)
5 White Ibis -- (16)
18 Black Vulture -- (1),(13),(16)
51 Turkey Vulture -- (1),(4),(11),(12),(13),(14),(16),(17)
6 Osprey -- (3),(13),(15),(16)
1 Northern Harrier -- (16)
1 Red-shouldered Hawk -- (12)
3 Red-tailed Hawk -- (13),(17)
1 Belted Kingfisher -- (11)
1 Yellow-bellied Sapsucker -- (3)
4 Ladder-backed Woodpecker -- (7),(13)
2 Crested Caracara -- (3)
2 American Kestrel -- (13),(17)
15 Eastern Phoebe -- (1),(2),(3),(4),(5),(6),(9),(12),(14),(15),(16)
1 Great Kiskadee -- (11)
1 Couch's Kingbird -- (5)
1 White-eyed Vireo -- (11)
2 Loggerhead Shrike -- (13),(16)
1 Black-crested Titmouse -- (11)
17 Ruby-crowned Kinglet -- (1),(2),(3),(4),(6),(7),(8),(9),(11)
2 Blue-gray Gnatcatcher -- (6),(11)
14 House Wren -- (3),(4),(6),(11),(16)
6 Carolina Wren -- (3),(4),(6),(8)
21 European Starling -- (13),(17)
21 Gray Catbird -- (1),(3),(4),(6),(7),(11)
24 Northern Mockingbird -- (1),(2),(3),(4),(6),(7),(9),(11),(16)
2 Eastern Bluebird -- (5)
16 Hermit Thrush -- (3),(4),(9),(11)
3 House Sparrow -- (3)
6 American Pipit -- (14)
3 American Goldfinch -- (5)
2 Chipping Sparrow -- (11)
15 Field Sparrow -- (3),(6),(11)
1 Savannah Sparrow -- (14)
31 Lincoln's Sparrow -- (2),(3),(4),(6),(11)
1 Western/Eastern Meadowlark -- (16)
559 Red-winged Blackbird -- (4),(6),(13),(14),(16),(17)
400 Brown-headed Cowbird -- (13)
211 Great-tailed Grackle -- (6),(11),(13),(14),(15),(16),(17)
10 Orange-crowned Warbler -- (2),(3),(4),(6),(9),(11)
1 Pine Warbler -- (5)
71 Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle) -- (1),(3),(4),(5),(6),(7),(9),(11),(13),(14)
31 Northern Cardinal -- (2),(3),(4),(6),(7),(9),(11),(13),(17)

Posted on December 18, 2019 00:54 by mikaelb mikaelb | 16 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

December 07, 2019

Nalle Bunny Run 2019-12-07

Only two people joined me for the monthly group walk on Hill Country Conservancy's Nalle Bunny Run wildlife preserve this morning. A few other folks had registered for the walk but didn't show up, and they missed an absolutely beautiful morning on the preserve! It was my favorite kind of winter morning in central Texas: clear and cool. When we started at 9:00 AM temperatures were in the upper 40s, and three hours later when we finished the walk it had warmed up to the mid 60s. Here are some highlights of the walk.

Birds were active but a bit hard to see. (And I was unable to get any decent photos of them this morning.) Before we left the gate we got a brief look at a male Red-bellied Woodpecker. And towards the end of our walk we got a better look at a male Golden-fronted Woodpecker. These similar species are one of several examples of a pair of an eastern species (Red-bellied) and a southwestern species (Golden-fronted) whose ranges overlap in central Texas. The Bunny Run is one of the few places around town where both can sometimes be seen!

Between the gate and the spring we ran into a couple mixed species foraging flocks that included Bewick's and Carolina Wrens, Black-crested Titmouse, Carolina Chickadee, Ruby-crowned Kinglets, Orange-crowned Warblers, and Yellow-rumped Warblers. On the sandy prairie we saw Northern Cardinals, a couple Eastern Phoebes, heard and then briefly saw a Song Sparrow, and a few Northern Mockingbirds. A single Field Sparrow was by the cowbird trap.

Starting back up the hill we left the trail to spend a few minutes by the sometimes waterfall. After hearing it call for awhile, we finally got to watch a Canyon Wren foraging in the rocks for a bit. This was my favorite bird of the morning!

On our way back through the western half of the preserve we found this Checkered Skipper that stopped briefly to feed on some of the Bitterweed flowers blooming in the trail.

Checkered Skipper on Bitterweed (Helenium amarum)

Here's our complete bird list on eBird.

Attached is the Checkered Skipper photo twice, first to represent the butterfly and again to represent the flower.

Posted on December 07, 2019 21:09 by mikaelb mikaelb | 2 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

December 22, 2019

Guadalupe Delta CBC 2019-12-19

On Thursday I was fortunate to be able to again participate in the Guadalupe Delta Christmas Bird Count on the Womack Ranch near McFadden, TX. Every year the Womack Ranch generously has a staff member take me up and down a section of the Guadalupe River in a small boat. I bird from the boat and we make many stops where I hop out, walk a little ways into the riparian woods, and play an Eastern Screech-Owl recording to see what songbirds respond. One of the goals of this count is to find lingering neotropical migrant songbirds, and this year was one of my most successful years in that regard.

The morning was extremely cold and clear. Weather predictions were for temperatures in the middle 30s but it was 23 degrees when we started out on the river at about 7:30! The river had a thick layer of mist:

Mist on River

At one of our first stops a female Yellow-bellied Sapsucker was one of the only birds to fly in to the owl recording. Something seemed strange to me about it, and it wasn't until I looked at my photos a few days later that I realized it had a black crown. Females usually have a red crown, and my Sibley guide describes this black-crowned variation as "seen occasionally." It was a first for me.

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker - 1 - 2

I counted more Green Kingfishers than any previous year. We encountered at least 6. Here's a female that let us get close enough for a photo:

Green Kingfisher - 1

Lingering neotropical migrants are migratory songbirds that usually spend the winter south of the United States, but that can be found in small numbers in south Texas. Through the morning we found a few Black-and-white Warblers and Wilson's Warblers. Just before lunch I heard the "zeet" call and briefly saw an Indigo Bunting. The afternoon was slow until about 3 PM at our very last stop before we had to turn around. I had the best mixed-species foraging flock of the day which included a male Northern Parula , a male Black-and-white Warbler, and a male Black-throated Green Warbler. There were also expected winter resident Yellow-rumped Warblers, Orange-crowned Warblers, and Pine Warblers. Six warbler species in one flock! In Texas in the winter! The parula was the least expected species, and I was happy to get a pretty good photo of it:

Northern Parula - 1 - 2

And here are the Black-and-white Warbler and the Black-throated Green Warbler:

Black-and-white Warbler - 1 - 2

Black-throated Green Warbler - 1 - 1

By middle afternoon the temperature was in the low 60s. There was little or no wind and it was an absolutely beautiful day to be on the river. This was my view most of the day:

View from the Boat - 3

And this short video shows what it was like to glide along:

View from the Boat - 2

Here's my complete eBird checklist.

And here are a few more photos on Flickr.

Below are most of the same photos as iNaturalist observations.

Posted on December 22, 2019 21:15 by mikaelb mikaelb | 21 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment