La Sal Del Rey & Area 1-15-2015

???????????????????????????????

Gary Davidson and I thought it was a good idea to make an excursion out to La Sal Del Rey, Brushline Road, and area to see what we could find, so we met up this morning and drove out there. Lots of Savannah Sparrows out along Brushline, where we also had Chipping, Clay-colored, and Vesper Sparrow (Gary had a Grasshopper as well). The water at La Sal Del Rey was pretty high, so we didn’t walk around much, but Gary spotted and IDed a large flock of Eared Grebes on the other side of the lake (some ducks were in there but hard to distinguish), a few distant Wilson’s Phalaropes, but was pretty quiet overall. Highlights of the day were: Hooded Merganser (Mary Beth’s Pond), Say’s Phoebe (Rio Beef feedlot), and Brewer’s Blackbird (RB feedlot). Full list of birds from the day is at the end of the post.

???????????????????????????????

Two pairs of Cactus Wrens popped up around the intersection of Brushline and Chapa. They sang back and forth, so their territories must’ve abutted there.

???????????????????????????????

Further up Brushline (at Mary Beth’s Pond) we had 15 Hooded Mergansers (2 males) with some shovelers – the mergansers as a pleasant surprise.

???????????????????????????????

This Vermilion Flycatcher gave us close views at the pond as well – was on the fenceline within a couple meters of the vehicle.

???????????????????????????????

Brewer’s Blackbirds at Rio Beef feedlots.

???????????????????????????????

A group of Sandhill Cranes off of 88 to help close up the trip.
Number of Species: 78

Checklists included in this summary: (1): US-TX-Edcouch – 26.3412x-98.0317 , (2): US-TX-Edcouch – 26.3812x-98.024, (3): US-TX-Hargill – 26.4625x-98.0100, (4): US-TX-Hargill – 26.4960x-98.0237, (5): LRGV NWR–La Sal del Rey (LTC 005), (6): Mary Beth’s Pond, (7): Rio Beef Farm Feed Lot Area
(8): La Sal Vieja- Teniente Tract (LTC 007), (9): US-TX-Edcouch-10265 FM 88, (10): Delta Lake (LTC 008), (11): US-TX-Edinburg FM1925

Species List
105 Greater White-fronted Goose — (4),(9)
389 Snow Goose — (4),(7),(10)
1 Ross’s Goose — (4)
10 Gadwall — (8)
36 Northern Shoveler — (2),(3),(5),(6)
46 Northern Pintail — (5),(7)
6 Lesser Scaup — (5),(6)
15 Hooded Merganser — (6)
1 Least Grebe — (6)
2 Pied-billed Grebe — (3)
1 Neotropic Cormorant — (10)
1 Double-crested Cormorant — (10)
4 American White Pelican — (10)
1 Great Blue Heron — (6)
1 Great Egret — (6)
1 Snowy Egret — (10)
1 Cattle Egret — (11)
4 Black Vulture — (5)
28 Turkey Vulture — (5),(6),(7)
3 White-tailed Kite — (1),(7)
1 Northern Harrier — (5)
1 Sharp-shinned Hawk — (5)
1 Cooper’s Hawk — (5)
4 Harris’s Hawk — (5)
6 White-tailed Hawk — (5),(7)
2 Red-shouldered Hawk — (5)
4 Red-tailed Hawk — (5),(7)
1 Red-tailed Hawk (Western) — (5)
20 American Coot — (3)
503 Sandhill Crane — (5),(9)
4 Killdeer — (6),(9)
2 Greater Yellowlegs — (6)
1 Long-billed Curlew — (7)
6 Wilson’s Phalarope — (5)
1 Ring-billed Gull — (5)
14 Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon) — (11)
1 Eurasian Collared-Dove — (6)
82 Mourning Dove — (5),(6),(7)
2 Greater Roadrunner — (5)
4 Golden-fronted Woodpecker — (5)
3 Ladder-backed Woodpecker — (5)
12 Crested Caracara — (2),(5),(7),(9)
7 American Kestrel — (3),(5),(7)
1 Peregrine Falcon — (5)
6 Eastern Phoebe — (5),(7)
1 Say’s Phoebe — (7)
1 Vermilion Flycatcher — (6)
3 Great Kiskadee — (5),(7)
1 Tropical/Couch’s Kingbird — (5)
6 Loggerhead Shrike — (2),(3),(5),(7)
3 Green Jay — (5),(7)
230 Tree Swallow — (2),(10)
3 Black-crested Titmouse — (5)
4 Verdin — (5),(6),(7)
1 House Wren — (6)
1 Bewick’s Wren — (5)
4 Cactus Wren — (5)
4 Blue-gray Gnatcatcher — (5)
5 Ruby-crowned Kinglet — (5)
3 Long-billed Thrasher — (5)
24 Northern Mockingbird — (3),(5),(8)
51 American Pipit — (6),(9)
11 Orange-crowned Warbler — (5),(7)
4 Yellow-rumped Warbler — (5)
10 Chipping Sparrow — (5)
1 Clay-colored Sparrow — (5)
1 Vesper Sparrow — (5)
1 Lark Sparrow — (6)
26 Savannah Sparrow — (5)
6 Lincoln’s Sparrow — (5)
2 Northern Cardinal — (5)
13 Pyrrhuloxia — (5),(6),(8)
400 Red-winged Blackbird — (7)
14 Western Meadowlark — (5),(7)
40 Brewer’s Blackbird — (7)
200 Great-tailed Grackle — (7)
100 Bronzed Cowbird — (7)
1 Brown-headed Cowbird — (7)

Potential Fish Prey of Ringed Kingfisher and Green Kingfisher in the Lower Rio Grande Valley

Introduction

The examples of fish-eating birds are many; from the predominantly piscivorous Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) to the many egrets and herons (family Ardeidae) that include fish as staples of their diet, to many others. The diets of some piscivores, such as the Osprey, have been well-studied, including a detailed compilation of fish species consumed (Poole, 2002). Others, however, remain understudied.

Two such species are the Green Kingfisher (Chloroceryle americana) and the Ringed Kingfisher (Megaceryle torquata). Both are breeding residents in the Lower Rio Grande Valley (Brush, 2005), which consists of Cameron, Hidalgo, Starr, and Willacy counties (Figure 1).

Figure 1 - Map of LRGV
Figure 1. Aerial imagery (from Google Earth) of the four counties in the Lower Rio Grande Valley (LRGV). The red line is the northern limit and the Rio Grande (Mexico-United States border) the southern.

These tropical kingfishers, the northernmost parts of their ranges extending into South and Central Texas (Lockwood and Freeman, 2004), are accordingly sought-after by bird watchers from across North America. However, as Moskoff (2002) notes in a review paper for the Green Kingfisher, there are only a few studies on the species; all of which are in Central or South America. A similar dearth of scientific study has been done on the Ringed Kingfisher (Brush, 2009).

Given the lack of scientific study on the life histories of these kingfishers, the goal of this paper is to look at some of the fishes of the Lower Rio Grande Valley (hereafter LRGV) that may serve as prey items for these largely piscivorous birds.

Ringed Kingfisher

Ringed Kingfisher Lake Edinburg
Figure 2. Ringed Kingfisher, Edinburg, TX, February 2013 (photo by John Brush).

The largest species of kingfisher in North America at 41 cm (Dunn and Alderfer, 2011), the Ringed Kingfisher (Figure 2) is a relatively new member of the family Alcedinidae to breed in the United States. It’s first recorded nesting attempt in the U.S. was at Falcon Dam in 1970 (Webster Jr, 1970), and it has since become fairly common in the region (Brush, 2005). They are frequently seen along the Rio Grande itself, but also have become regularly observed along canals throughout the LRGV (eBird, 2012).

The only study of Ringed Kingfisher foraging behavior was done in the Amazon basin (Remsen, 1991). In his study, Remsen notes that they are mostly found in open shoreline habitats, where they generally capture fish that are close to shore and swim near the water surface. The latter habit is due to the kingfisher’s propensity to avoid full submersion underwater (Remsen, 1991). This approximation of habitat choice appears valid for the LRGV (Brush, 2005).

Ringed Kingfishers are noted to capture fish 80-100 mm in length (Remsen, 1991) and 125-200 mm in length (Willard, 1985), thus giving a prey length range of roughly 80-200 mm. Very little data on fish species taken is available, but Remsen (1991) noted that 88% of fish prey taken by the kingfishers in his study were in the family Characidae. Willard (1985) observed that at Cocha Cashu Lake, Peru, 35% of the Ringed Kingfishers’ prey were Aequidens cichlids (family Cichlidae).

Green Kingfisher

???????????????????????????????
Figure 3. Green Kingfisher, Edinburg, TX, January 2013 (photo by John Brush).

The Green Kingfisher (figure 3), the United States’ smallest kingfisher at 22 cm in length (Dunn and Alderfer, 2011), has been a component of the avifauna of the LRGV since at least the late 19th century (Merrill, 1878). Like the Ringed Kingfisher, the Green is known to prefer open shore habitats and will dive only a few centimeters deep (Remsen, 1991). Brush (2005) notes that in the LRGV Green Kingfishers are often seen on low perches over water. They are frequently encountered along the Rio Grande, canals, and small drainage ditches (eBird, 2012).

Fish prey size of the Green Kingfisher is described as 8-80 mm in length (Remsen, 1983). However, a later study looking at where Green Kingfishers co-inhabit a region with other kingfisher species, the mean length of fishes captured by Green Kingfishers ranges from 19.4-41.1 mm (Remsen, 1991). In the LRGV, where both the Belted Kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon) and Ringed Kingfisher also reside (the Belted only part of the year), it seems likely that the Green Kingfisher fish prey length would be closer to the 19.4-41.1 mm range. Known fish prey in Panama are two species of catfish in the family Loricariidae (Power et al., 1989).

Potential Fish Prey in the LRGV

There are 268 species of fish in the freshwaters of Texas (Hubbs et al., 2008), and of these 114 have been documented in the LRGV (Edwards and Contreras-Balderas, 1991). Out of these, it is necessary to determine which ones have both range and habitat overlap with Green and Ringed kingfishers. A direct way to accomplish that is to examine fishes that are known to occur in the same locations in the LRGV as do both kingfisher species.

Table 1 is a list of 14 fishes that were captured at a site along the Rio Grande (Salineno, TX) and two urban canal sites in Edinburg, Texas (Edwards, 2014 (unpublished data)). Given that Ringed Kingfishers and Green Kingfishers are both known to occur at these sites (eBird, 2012), it follows that these fishes could be potential prey items for both species.

Table 1. Species of fish (in alphabetical order) captured at a Rio Grande site and along an urban canal (R. J. Edwards unpubl. data).

Scientific name Rio Grande Site Urban Canal Sites
Astyanax mexicanus NO YES
Cichlasoma cyanoguttatum                 YES YES
Cyprinella lutrensis YES NO
Cyprinodon variegatus YES YES
Dorosoma petenense NO YES
Gobiosoma bosc NO YES
Lepomis microlophus YES NO
Lucania parva NO YES
Menidia beryllina YES YES
Micropterus salmoides NO YES
Oreochromis aureus YES YES
Pimephales vigilax YES NO
Poecilia latipinna YES YES
Poecilia formosa YES YES

Because previous studies focused on the size of fish as the defining factor for prey selection (Remsen, 1983, Remsen, 1991, Willard, 1985), I took the 14 fishes listed above and added on their respective sizes, along with the typical range of fish lengths the two kingfisher species are known to take (Table 2). Even though some of the fishes listed, such as Micropterus salmoides, have maximum lengths greater than those preferred by the kingfishers, they still may be potential prey items at earlier stages of growth.

Table 2. Potential prey fishes of Ringed Kingfisher and Green Kingfisher in the LRGV (TL = total length, SL = standard length). Noted prey lengths for both kingfishers are presented. “Yes” means the fish length falls within the range, “No” means it does not. “P” means it could be a potential prey item at an earlier stage of growth.

 

Fish species Max length Source Ringed Kingfisher(fish prey length = 80-200 mm) Green Kingfisher(fish prey length  = 8-80 mm)
Astyanax mexicanus     100 mm (SL) (Lee et al., 1980, Miller et al., 2005) Yes No (P)
Cichlasoma cyanoguttatum  300 mm (TL) (Lee et al., 1980) No (P) No (P)
Cyprinella lutrensis    75 mm (SL) (Lee et al., 1980, Mayden, 1989) No Yes
Cyprinodon variegatus    75-80 mm (Hoese and Moore, 1977, Page and Burr, 1991) Yes Yes
Dorosoma petenense 203 mm (TL) (Lambou, 1965) No (P) No (P)
Gobiosoma bosc  64 mm (Fritzsche, 1978) No Yes
Lepomis microlophus  355 mm (TL) (Carlander, 1977) No (P) No (P)
Lucania parva  50 mm (TL) (Huber, 1996) No Yes
Menidia beryllina    80-125 mm (SL) (Hoese and Moore, 1977, Lee et al., 1980) Yes Yes
Micropterus salmoides   7000 mm (TL) (Lee et al., 1980) No (P) No (P)
Oreochromis aureus   508 mm (TL) (Lee et al., 1980) No (P) No (P)
Pimephales vigilax   72 mm (SL) (Boschung et al., 2004) No Yes
Poecilia latipinna    80-150 mm (TL) (Hoese and Moore, 1977, Lee et al., 1980) Yes Yes
Poecilia formosa 96 mm (TL) (Page and Burr, 1991) Yes No (P)

It must be noted that mere presence at the two sites, along with size compatibility, does not equate predation. The habits of the fishes may play a large role. For example, Gobiasoma bosc is a species that spends most of its time away from the water’s surface (Cable, 1938), thus effectively removing it from danger of kingfisher predation. Pimephales vigilax is another fish that is noted as a bottom-feeder (Thomas et al., 2007).

On the other hand, species such as Gambusia affinis are noted as frequently occurring near the water’s surface (Lee et al., 1980), which would imply that they are more susceptible to capture. Other listed species noted to particularly be in shallow water include Menidia beryllina (Mense, 1967) and the young of Astyanax mexicanus (Edwards, 1977).

Some of the species above were more abundant than others, including Gambusia affinis, Cyprinodon variegatus, Dorosoma petenense, and Menidia beryllina (Edwards, 2014 (unpublished data)). It could imply greater frequency of kingfisher predation, particularly of those fishes that are noted as inhabiting water near the surface.

Conclusion

While further study on the fish prey of the Green Kingfisher and Ringed Kingfisher is needed, it can be suspected that given their known occurrence, size, and habits, the following fishes may be considered potential prey items: Astyanax mexicanus, Cichlasoma cyanoguttatum, Cyprinella lutrensis, Cyprinodon variegatus, Lepomis microlophus, Lucania parva, Menidia beryllina, Micropterus salmoides, Oreochromis aureus, Poecilia latipinna, and Poecilia formosa.

This is not intended to be a complete list of fish species that may be prey items of Ringed and Green Kingfishers, but rather is intended to serve as a starting point for further investigation into these tropical kingfishers’ food habits in the Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas.

Literature Cited

Boschung, H. T., Mayden, R. L. and Tomelleri, J. R. (2004) Fishes of Alabama. Smithsonian Books.

Brush, T. (2005) Nesting birds of a tropical frontier: the Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas. Texas A&M University Press.

Brush, T. (2009) ‘Ringed Kingfisher (Megaceryle torquata), The Birds of North America Online (A. Poole, Ed).’, Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology, Ithaca.

Cable, L. (1938) ‘Further notes on the development and life history of some teleosts at Beaufort, NC’.

Carlander, K. 1977. Handbook of freshwater fishery biology, Vol. 2. Iowa State University Press, Ames.

Dunn, J. L. and Alderfer, J. K. (2011) National Geographic field guide to the birds of North America. National Geographic Books.

eBird 2012. eBird: An online database of bird distribution and abundance [web application]. eBird Ithaca, New York.

Edwards, R. J. (1977) ‘Seasonal migrations of Astyanax mexicanus as an adaptation to novel environments’, Copeia, pp. 770-771.

Edwards, R. J. (2014 (unpublished data)) ‘(Fall Ichthyology Field Collections)’, Unpublished data.

Edwards, R. J. and Contreras-Balderas, S. (1991) ‘Historical changes in the ichthyofauna of the lower Rio Grande (Rio Bravo del Norte), Texas and Mexico’, The Southwestern Naturalist, pp. 201-212.

Fritzsche, R. A. (1978) Development of fishes of the Mid-Atlantic Bight. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Hoese, H. D. and Moore, R. H. (1977) ‘Fishes of the Gulf of Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, and adjacent waters’.

Hubbs, C., Edwards, R. and Garrett, G. (2008) ‘An annotated checklist of the freshwater fishes of Texas, with keys to identification of species. Texas Academy of Science’, Austin, Texas.

Huber, J. (1996) ‘Updated checklist of taxonomic names, collecting localities and bibliographic references of oviparous Cyprinodont fishes (Atherinomorpha, Pisces)’, Société Française d’Ichtyologie. Muséum, National d’Histoire Naturelle, Paris, pp. 399.

Lambou, V. W. (1965) ‘Observations on Size Distribution and Spawning Behavior of Threadfin Shad’, Transactions of the American Fisheries Society, 94(4), pp. 385-386.

Lee, D. S., Gilbert, C. R., Hocutt, C. H., Jenkins, R. E., McAllister, D. E. and Stauffer Jr, J. R. (1980) Atlas of North American freshwater fishes. North Carolina State Museum of Natural History Raleigh.

Lockwood, M. W. and Freeman, B. (2004) ‘The Texas Ornithological Society Handbook of Texas Birds’, Texas A & M University Press, College Station, TX.

Mayden, R. L. (1989) Phylogenetic studies of North American minnows, with emphasis on the genus Cyprinella (Teleostei, Cypriniformes). University of Kansas.

Mense, J. B. (1967) Ecology of the Mississippi silversides, Menidia audens Hay. University of Oklahoma.

Merrill, J. C. (1878) ‘Notes on the ornithology of southern Texas’, Papers in Ornithology, pp. 55.

Miller, R. R., Minckley, W. L., Norris, S. M. and Gach, M. H. (2005) ‘Freshwater fishes of Mexico’.

Page, L. M. and Burr, B. M. (1991) A field guide to freshwater fishes: North America north of Mexico. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Poole, A. F., Bierregaard, Rob O., Martell, Mark S. (2002) ‘Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) The Birds of North America Online (A. Poole, Ed.)’, Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology, Ithaca.

Power, M. E., Dudley, T. L. and Cooper, S. D. (1989) ‘Grazing catfish, fishing birds, and attached algae in a Panamanian stream’, Environmental biology of fishes, 26(4), pp. 285-294.

Remsen, J. V. (1983) Chloroceryle americana (Martin pescador verde, Green Kingfisher). Univ of Chicago Press, p. 564-565.

Remsen, J. V. (1991) Community ecology of Neotropical kingfishers. Univ of California Press.

Thomas, C., Bonner, T. H. and Whiteside, B. G. (2007) Freshwater fishes of Texas: a field guide. Texas A&M University Press.

Webster Jr, F. (1970) ‘South Texas region’, Audubon Field Notes, 24, pp. 696-699.

Willard, D. E. (1985) ‘Comparative feeding ecology of twenty-two tropical piscivores’, Ornithological Monographs, pp. 788-797.

Quinta Mazatlan & Old Hidalgo Pumphouse (Hidalgo County 9/13/2014)

Buff-bellied Hummingbird

Buff-bellied Hummingbird at the Old Hidalgo Pumphouse.

I was ready for a rainy morning of birding (with a poncho available) but the most I got was a light rain, which was fine with me! I was curious if the weather would bring migrants down, but overall there wasn’t much of a fallout. Quinta had a decent variety of birds, including an Hidalgo County year bird (Canada Warbler) and a few other migrants (YB Chat, Am. Redstart,  Summer Tanager). The Clay-colored Thrushes are starting to flock up, and all had wet plumage and were cooperative. Bewick’s Wrens have a spotty frequency at QM, so I was pleasantly surprised when one sang and came right up to my pishing.

Peregrine Falcon

I guess facing the water tower was an easier perch than facing away.

At the Old Hidalgo Pumphouse I was greeted by a Peregrine Falcon  up on the water tower. It was amusing to see it stare directly into the metal wall at first, bringing to mind when my cat sits and stares at a corner when in “grumpy mode”.

Monk Parakeet anacua

A group of 12 Monk Parakeets flew in and foraged in a flowering/budding/fruiting Anacua tree. Later on, I saw what I believe could be courtship behavior around one of their nests in the neighborhood around the pumphouse (picture below). One bird fluttered its wing and tried to draw near the other on the wires near the nest.

Monk Parakeet wing flutter

???????????????????????????????

A couple Black Phoebes foraged along the bike trail west of the building.

???????????????????????????????

A pair of Olive Sparrows also foraged along the edge of the bike trail.

The pumphouse didn’t have many migrants around, aside from some Ruby-throated Hummingbirds and several groups of Baltimore Orioles.

Full checklists for the morning below:

Quinta Mazatlan WBC (LTC 063), Hidalgo, US-TX
Sep 13, 2014 8:40 AM – 9:51 AM
Protocol: Traveling
0.5 mile(s)
Comments:     <br />Submitted from BirdLog NA for iOS, version 1.7.1
39 species (+1 other taxa)

Plain Chachalaca  8
Green Heron  1
Inca Dove  3
White-winged Dove  1
Mourning Dove  2
Eastern Screech-Owl (McCall’s)  1
Common Pauraque  2
Buff-bellied Hummingbird  4
Golden-fronted Woodpecker  8
Ladder-backed Woodpecker  2
Olive-sided Flycatcher  2
Empidonax sp.  1
Great Crested Flycatcher  1
Tropical Kingbird  1
Couch’s Kingbird  2
White-eyed Vireo  1
Green Jay  3
Barn Swallow  15
Cliff Swallow  1
Black-crested Titmouse  1
Carolina Wren  1
Bewick’s Wren  1
Clay-colored Thrush  6
Curve-billed Thrasher  4
European Starling  2
Northern Waterthrush  1
American Redstart  1
Yellow Warbler  10
Canada Warbler  1
Wilson’s Warbler  1
Yellow-breasted Chat  2
Olive Sparrow  4
Summer Tanager  1
Northern Cardinal  1
Great-tailed Grackle  6
Bronzed Cowbird  1
Bullock’s Oriole  1
Baltimore Oriole  12
Lesser Goldfinch  2
House Sparrow  20

Old Hidalgo Pumphouse (WBC) (LTC067), Hidalgo, US-TX
Sep 13, 2014 10:15 AM – 11:15 AM
Protocol: Traveling
0.15 mile(s)
24 species (+1 other taxa)

Turkey Vulture  1
Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon)  35
Eurasian Collared-Dove  1
Inca Dove  2
White-winged Dove  4
Ruby-throated Hummingbird  2
Ruby-throated/Black-chinned Hummingbird  1
Buff-bellied Hummingbird  4
Ringed Kingfisher  1
Belted Kingfisher  1
Golden-fronted Woodpecker  4
Peregrine Falcon  1     on water tower
Monk Parakeet  12     went into blooming/budding anacua and foraged
Eastern Wood-Pewee  1
Black Phoebe  2     hanging around overlook, on west side of building
Great Kiskadee  4
Couch’s Kingbird  2
Green Jay  2
Purple Martin  1
Barn Swallow  15
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher  2
Northern Mockingbird  8
Olive Sparrow  2
Great-tailed Grackle  10
Baltimore Oriole  8

South Padre Island Birding – August 18th, 2014

Common Tern

Javi Gonzalez had the idea of making a birding excursion out to South Padre Island this morning, to which I of course agreed. What better way to use the last non-semester Monday?

We got out to the South Padre Island Convention Center by dawn, fully equipped with telescopes and breakfast tacos. One of our first birds of the morning was the pictured Common Tern. It was one of at least 3 scattered amidst the Laughing Gulls and other assorted terns (pretty much all the other expected terns, making for nice comparisons). A lifer for Javi and an ABA lifer for me. The flats were filled with a lot of shorebird activity, with lots of Western Sandpipers running around with a nice assortment of other species.

Yellow-crowned Night-Heron

A well lit Yellow-crowned Night-Heron at the Convention Center.

Jackrabbit (1)

Right in the middle of the gardens at the convention center was an unafraid Black-tailed Jackrabbit. My first thought was that something was wrong with it, but it seemed relatively healthy. It didn’t look scrawny and it didn’t seem dazed (when I tried to get too close at one point it alertly shied away). Just a bunny buddy I guess!

Javi and Jackrabbit

Javi and the jackrabbit

A brief stop at the Nature Conservancy Lots on Sheepshead brought us a Kentucky Warbler, lots of Eurasian-collared Doves, but not much more.

???????????????????????????????

???????????????????????????????

A Snowy Egret attempting the “shooting a fish in a barrel” technique.

???????????????????????????????

Javi knew of a few places to bird towards the Sea Ranch Marina, so we headed down there for our last stops of the day. Our last stop was thrown off by high tide, but a Clapper Rail that quickly moved through an open area was fun.

eBird checklist at the link:

http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S19505035

Lake Edinburg and Pond Searching

???????????????????????????????Javi and I decided to make a short jaunt out to Lake Edinburg this morning to see what was around. It doesn’t get birded much, with only 55 checklists to its name on the eBird Hotspot Explorer, but can host an interesting array of species. The flats to the south hosted a small variety of shorebirds, including some Least Sandpipers.

Black-necked StiltAlong with a group of Black-necked Stilts.

Snowy Plover Lake EdinburgThe most interesting sighting at Lake Edinburg were two Snowy Plovers. Javi and I have had this species out there a couple times now, so this may be a regular spot for them. The two birds ran back off the exposed mud into the drier and more herbaceous part of the flats to the south.

After Lake Edinburg we thought we’d check out a few more ponds, but to little avail. There was no water in the Wallace Road ponds, and our drive-by of ponds on north Inspiration Road yielded no viewing points.

Swainson's Hawk juvenileWe did enjoy a group of 5 White-tailed and 10 Swainson’s Hawks (a juvenile pictured above) foraging with Turkey Vultures in a field being plowed. There were all sorts of ages on display, from the darkest Basic I or II WTHA to some very pale SWHA juvies mixed in with a few adults.

Neotropic Cormorant  2
Snowy Egret  7
Tricolored Heron  1
White Ibis  1
Roseate Spoonbill  2
Turkey Vulture  1
Black-necked Stilt  5
Snowy Plover  2
Killdeer  7
Spotted Sandpiper  1
Greater Yellowlegs  2     Long slightly upturned bill, heard steady pitched calls
Least Sandpiper  9
Laughing Gull  3
Least Tern  2
Common Ground-Dove  3
White-tipped Dove  1
Mourning Dove  4
Ringed Kingfisher  1
Green Kingfisher  1
Golden-fronted Woodpecker  5
Ladder-backed Woodpecker  2
Crested Caracara  1
Brown-crested Flycatcher  1
Great Kiskadee  5
Couch’s Kingbird  4
Tropical/Couch’s Kingbird  2
Scissor-tailed Flycatcher  3
White-eyed Vireo  2
Green Jay  1
Black-crested Titmouse  1
Verdin  1
Bewick’s Wren  1
Cactus Wren  1
Long-billed Thrasher  1
Northern Mockingbird  3
Common Yellowthroat  2     saw adult male, heard one singing
Yellow Warbler  1
Olive Sparrow  2
Northern Cardinal  1
Painted Bunting  1
Great-tailed Grackle  10
Orchard Oriole  3
Lesser Goldfinch  2
House Sparrow  5

To Be A Vulture

???????????????????????????????

I was inspired by a poem about vultures my father shared with me, so I put together one of my own.

A caricature of death is what many see

In the v of dark wings

And the blooded head that grips

Rips flesh and sinew from bone

 

I see the paragon of warm efficiency

A beauty that ever sings

And whistles in spread wingtips

Trips of the world wind-blown

 

Were I of such graceful form, a vulture to be

Life viewed from circling rings

And carrion on my lips

Drips of my future now shown

 

I would know I shan’t ever be alone.