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Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Weekly Birding Update

Its been a long week with the Partners in Flight Conference, Great Backyard Bird Count, flying to Texas and back. Hardly any time to go birding, right? Not if you know me! Here's the quick and dirty:

Wednesday, Feb 13
Flew in to Austin, and drove around the ponds at Hornsby Bend real quick before heading down to the Rio Grande Valley. New year birds:
Purple Martin--three at the colony I helped establish at the CER building, freshly arrived from winter in South America, apparently I'm the first to see these guys back at Hornsby this year.
Loggerhead Shrike--stopped to scope out the fenceline as you enter the pond area, a traditional spot for these guys. Sure enough, there was one of these masked butcherbirds hanging out there.
Blue-winged Teal--not sure why I missed this one in Arizona last month, but there were fifteen of these early spring migrants on the ponds, right on time.
Day List: 30 species (150% Bird RDA)
2008 List: 225 species

Thursday, February 14

Valentines day. And since I couldn't be back in PA with my own sweeties, I had to take the second best thing I love--birds! Before the Partners in Flight conference, we spent the morning at Santa Ana NWR. Good to see a bunch of my old South Texas friends--Plain Chachalaca, Green Jay, Long-billed Thrasher. On the way back to the conference, a stop at the Frontera Audubon sanctuary got us Clay-colored Robin. Nice.
Day List: 51 species (255% of Bird RDA)
2008 List: 241 species

Friday, February 15
Before the PIF meetings in the morning, we hit Bentsen/Rio Grande SP World Birding Center and the Valley Nature Center. Finally got Altamira Oriole for the trip at Bentsen, and heard the Tropical Parula. Otherwise slow. Best bird of the day was probably the Tropical Kingbird at the Llano Grande mobile home community.
Day List: 34 species (170% of Bird RDA)
2008 List: 247 species

Saturday, February 16
Morning to Laguna Atascosa. Very windy, but picked up some shorebirds for the year, including Willet and Black-bellied Plover. Watched several Reddish Egrets hunting in the shallows. Very windy, so not much else. After the PIF conference we caught up with the Red-crowned Parrots in Weslaco.
Day List: 72 species (360% of Bird RDA)
2008 List: 265 species

Sunday, February 17
Long drive back to Austin. Stopped at my old church and saw some friends in the afternoon, and heard Monk Parakeets from the church parking lot on Oltorf Rd. Best birds were four species of geese 13 miles south of Alice: Snow Goose, Ross's Goose, Greater White-fronted Goose, Cackling Goose.
Day List: 52 species (260% of Bird RDA)
2008 List: 267 species

Monday, February 18
Long day of mostly just working on the Great Backyard Bird Count from my hotel. But I had to slip out in the afternoon to get my Bird RDA. Only had time for a quick look at the Walnut Creek Sewage Treatment Plant pond on MLK Boulevard--which got me a Wood Duck for the year. A short walk at Hornsby Bend led me to a Lincoln's Sparrow but not much else, and the pond at the northeast corner of Congress and Woodward on the St. Edwards campus got me a Sora and Marsh Wren. Not bad for a quick hour and a half.
Day List: 33 species (165% of Bird RDA)
2008 List: 270 species

Tuesday, February 19
Another day of working the GBBC. Even though the count period is over, there's lots to do to get it all wrapped up. I also had to fly home. So, not a lot of time to get my Bird RDA. Fortunately, I know my old stomping grounds pretty well, and I was able to get a few species at the Austin Memorial Garden near where I used to live when I first moved to Austin, and a quick stop at Walnut Creek on my way to the airport put me over the top, with no time to spare.
Day List: 22 species (110% of Bird RDA)
2008 List: 270 species

Wednesday, February 20

Back in PA, after a long night arriving home at 1:30am. Not much at Peace Valley on my way into work, a lone Common Goldeneye the best bird there. The feeders at work were reliable, as usual, getting me over the top with good looks at both Carolina Chickadee and Black-capped Chickadee.
Day List: 23 species (115% of Bird RDA)
2008 List: 270 species

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