Saturday, January 3, 2015

Getting Started...

Since it doesn't make a lot of sense for me to spend my time running up a list of Upper Texas Coast birds that will be here all year long I've started out the year working on quality and not quantity. As of this moment I'm at 123. Unfortunately A few things have fizzled out, but there are some successes.

January 1, 2015 I got out and went looking for gulls. The targets were Greater and Lesser Black-backed Gull, Thayer's Gull, Glaucous Gull, Iceland Gull, and California Gull. All of these birds had been seen by a group I was in on December 30, 2014. There is a landfill at Cedar Point in Chambers County that attracts large numbers of gulls and a lot loaf in the area around the landfill. I decided to try and locate some these goodies. The landfill was closed for the holiday and there were very few gulls around. I only located Lesser Black-backed Gull of the targets, and this has essentially become a "trash bird" where ever large gull congregate. I picked up nothing I can't go out and get on demand in the area during the winter. I'm going to chalk it up to paying my dues on time with gulls.

Birding Old River CBC, Trinity Bay, Chambers County Texas
Old River CBC 1/2/2015 3:30 pm fog and drizzle, 45-50 degrees

January 2, 2015 and I was out on Lost River on the Old River CBC at 5:30 am in a boat headed up the river. Before sunrise we were parked listening for owls and got several American Woodcock coming in to roost and several calling Barred Owls. 

This section of the Old River CBC gets permission to bird from the levee that forms Dalton Lake, formerly know as the HLP Cooling Pond. This deep warm clear water lake attracts good numbers of diving ducks. We were hoping for a scoter, but only had Common Goldeneye, Canvasback, and Horned Grebe. Horned Grebe can be hard to turn up on demand so I'll take that.

Next stop was a set of ponds for a private hunt club and here we found Greater Scaup, sometimes a tricky bird to find. Out on the bay we found another four Lesser Black-backed Gulls (see I told you trash birds), plus Marbled Godwit and a rare for the county Piping Plover. The plover was actually a new county bird for me so I was very pleased with that.

I had queried Tim Fennell about where to find Mountain Plover and Burrowing Owl in Williamson County and in a stroke of luck Tim was leading the "plover patrol" for the CBC on January 3, 2015 and offered to take me along. So it was up at 3:30 am to met Tim by 7:30 am at the Sore Finger WMA. By 8 am we had found both Burrowing Owl and Mountain Plover. One of those in the patrol with us, Sam Fason, mentioned that the Brown Booby found in September at Windy Point on Lake Travis was seen by time yesterday. At lunch I headed out for Lake Travis.

Brown Booby, Windy Point Lake Travis, Travis County Texas
Brown Bobby - Lake Travis 1/3/2015
Once at Lake Travis I scanned the lake with no luck and while waiting for the booby to show up I struck up a conversation with another birder there looking, while we were chatting he shouts "Booby!" its it passing at eye level not 75 feet from us! During the next 90 minutes I saw the Brown Booby 3 more times and managed a few poor pictures.

Tomorrow is the New Braunfels CBC. There is a Calliope Hummingbird being seen in the count circle, I was trying to get to see it today, but the times just didn't work out. I'll especially work on sparrows tomorrow and try and knock out as many of the central Texas sparrows as I can. Other birds I'm hoping for are Say's Phoebe, Shorteared Owl, and Spotted Towhee. Black Phoebe and Green Kingfisher are also possible. Wish me luck, I need to get some sleep now.

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