Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Anticipating January 1...

Ok, its the afternoon of December 31, 2014 and I'm trying to decided where to start. I can bird for about three-quarters of a day tomorrow, how to start this big year?

The Trumpeter Swan at Lakeside Park in The Woodland (Montgomery County) has not been reported since December 22, 2014. I could try for that and then head up to Jones State Forest and look for Red-cockaded Woodpecker and Brown-headed Nuthatch as consolation prizes. Right now its not too appealing, I can go for the woodpecker and nuthatches most any time. There have been several negative reports for the swan in the last few days and while birds are great at hiding, it not a big lake and and its a big bird, if it were still present, it should have been seen.

There is a Mountain Plover at the Houston Audubon Society Bolivar Flats Shorebird Sanctuary (Galveston County). I could definitely rack up the birds there, but I'm planing on looking for Mountain Plover on January 3 in the Granger Lake area. Everything else there is going to be there for a while.

That just leaves really one kind of target to go for, gulls. Thayer's and Lesser Black-backed Gull shouldn't be too hard from the Ash Lake area between Chamber and Harris Counties. There are also a Greater Black-backed and Iceland Gull in the area, and quit likely California Gull. Nearby Morgans Point might also yield a Bonaparte's Gull. I could make a big dent in gulls in a few hours.

So gulls it is it seams.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

So I want to do a Big Year...

So I've been thinking this is the year to attempt a Big Year for Texas. I count 490 species for Texas that are not review species. The I think the current record for Texas is 522 (Lynn Barber, 2005). I'm setting a goal of 500, which is pretty ambitious. Not all of those 490 species are accessible in a  given year just because of where they occur. Lynn had 42 review species which is a remarkable year. I'll set a goal of half that for review species, 21. That gives me a buffer of 11 species beyond the non-review list for 500. If I had unlimited funds and time, I think that would be pretty easy, but I don't so a bit of luck will be needed.

The Texas Ornithological Society meeting this year is going to be in El Paso and that works well for this. I'm going to head out early and spend an afternoon and morning in the Davis Mountains before the meeting. After the meeting I'll be able to spend a full day in Guadalupe Mountains National Park. After the sun sets I'll head for Lubbock and be able to bird the morning hopefully picking up a good number of the more "southern" panhandle species before heading home.

I'm signed up for the Old River CBC on January 2, 2015 and the New Braunfels CBC on January 4, 2015. Those two counts alone should get me 150 species. I feel like I have to get something this good on January 1. I think a review species should be the target. There is a Trumpeter Swan in the Woodlands (Montgomery Co.) and the Greater Pewee in Bear Creek Park (Harris Co.). Yesterday a Fork-tailed Flycatcher was found on Galveston Island, I think that's a remote possibility to stick around. Since Bear Creek Park is a county park and will be closed on I think its going to be the swan, however a lot could change between now and then depending on what gets found in the last days of the CBC season.

January 3, 2015 is a travel day, so I will likely go for the Greater Pewee on my way out of town, and then perhaps swing through Williamson County for Mountain Plovers and if it hangs around I might try for a Calliope Hummingbird that's hanging around.

I've also got to decide what to to about the Painted Redstart at the rest stop south of Falfurias, TX. its not a review species but it is a hard one to find in the western mountains of Texas. I'm tempted to make a dash for it and the easy Rio Grande Valley (RGC)species in January. I could try waiting for something rare to show up in the RGV, It's going to be a year of making choices, that's for sure.

So I ran the species reported to eBird.org for the last 10 years in all the counties I'm planning on being in for January. I come up 378 species, so I think my goal for January will be 320 species.