Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Recent Sightings

In our absence, please see the recent eBird reports for area sightings.

NOTE: These may or may not have been reviewed by regional editors! Take these reports with a grain of salt, as typos and misidentification can occur.

Brewster County (eBird link here)

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Christmas Bird Count Season in West Texas

Beautiful scenery and interesting species diversity should make a CBC detour through West Texas worthwhile, more dates will be added as we hear about them:

19 December - Davis Mountains CBC
20 December - Balmorhea CBC

For more information, contact  Mark Lockwood mark.lockwood@tpwd.texas.gov

Friday, November 13, 2015

B.J. Bishop Wetlands / Presidio County

Fantastic news for birds and birders, the eagerly anticipated wetland is finally birdable! *post is backdated

EDIT: via Carolyn Ohl -
"I was there about a month ago and they wouldn't let you drive the road down to the wetlands. Apparently you have to use a scope from the highway. There is a dirt dike that you can get a little closer on."


Subject: [texbirds] new birding location at Presidio
Date: Thu, 12 Nov 2015 18:10:51 +0000

Dear TexBirders,
There is a new man-made wetland in Presidio County that is open to the public. The B.J. Bishop Wetlands at Loma Paloma is located 0.5 miles east of Fort Leaton State Historic Site on the south side of Ranch Road 170. The new sewage treatment facility for Presidio is located on the opposite side of the road and the wetland is fed by treated water that is released from that plant. Parking is located on the northeast corner of the wetlands and access is on a maintained gravel road 0.3 miles farther east across from the Loma Paloma RV Park. Please park in the designated area and walk around the wetland on the road that encircles the site. I was there on 11 November and although I did not see anything unusual I did have 27 species of birds during my short visit. Highlights included Snow Goose, Wood Duck, Ferruginous Hawk, Golden-fronted Woodpecker, and singing (western) Marsh Wrens. I have placed a photo of the wetlands taken from RR170 on my Flickr site at:


If you are working on a Century Club list for Presidio County, this is certainly a place that can't be missed. To my knowledge it is the only publically accessible wetland in the county.


Mark Lockwood
402 E. Harriet Ave.
Alpine, Texas 79830


More information:
I was at the BJ Bishop wetland in mid-August and again on October 30. The RV Park Manager, Donna Arce, is very friendly, and very interested in the birds that are visiting the wetland. You might be able to sweet talk her into accompanying you down closer to the wetland on the gravel road that Mark Lockwood mentions, but my experience is the same as Carolyn's concerning trespassing.
Eventually the owners of the wetland plan to build a bird blind up by the Ranch Road, but it sure would be nice to have it be closer to the wetland.
Maybe a more local birder could persuade them?
Nice birds on October 30 were 2 White-faced Ibis, a Long-billed Dowitcher and ducks.
Jane Tillman
P.S Fort Leaton picnic area was quite birdy too with Green-tailed Towhee
and Brewer's Sparrow very cooperative.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Guest post: BBNP and Marathon

Ultimately, I need to check my pre-sorted emails more frequently: this information is nearly a month old (posting date is 23 Sept, but this will be backdated for the archives). These are from Sue Heath's posts from 28 and 29 Aug, 2015.


White-eared hummingbird, Brewster county


Found a white-eared hummingbird along the boot spring trail in Brewster county this morning. It was past the buildings but before the juniper canyon trail goes left. It was defending a large patch of flowers against a black-chinned hummer and a blue-throated hummingbird. Appeared to be a female or young bird as it had no gorget feathers. I posted a full description on ebird. Got some very blurry photos but can't post them til I get better internet. Good birds up there today. Many townsends and Wilson's warblers, one Colima warbler, four or five painted redstarts.

Tad thinks he had a buff-breasted flycatcher in the same general area as the white-eared hummer but we could not relocate it so I didn't see the bird.


Susan Heath
Gulf Coast Bird Observatory
Lake Jackson, TX
Sent from my iPhone


Burrowing owls & long-billed curlews, marathon prairie dog

We found three live and one road kill burrowing owls at the marathon prairie dog town along U.S. 385 in Brewster county today. The live ones were near the northern end. There were also eight long-billed curlew which ebird flagged as rare. Also a dead badger that some vultures were investigating. It looked like it got hit by a car and was just able to drag itself about 30 ft out Into the field before expiring. I wish I would see a live one sometime. The dead owl was unfortunately too far gone for a specimen.


Susan Heath
Gulf Coast Bird Observatory
Lake Jackson, TX
Sent from my iPhone


The only corrections are to obvious phone-typos, many thanks to Sue for the permission to share!!

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Guest sightings: Lake Balmorhea

Mary Beth Stowe has allowed us to post her summary from Lake Balmorhea - it's snagged from Texbirds, backdated, and slightly reformatted for the blog but we're grateful for what we can get! I keep saying "we" - the blog is its own entity, I suppose? At any rate, be sure to check out Mary Beth's site: www.miriameaglemon.com, it's a fantastic combination of birding and art and humor and maaaaybe one of these days I'll even get to meet the brains in person!


Lake Balmorhea
Date: Mon, 3 Aug 2015

Hi, all!

Was on my way to southeast Arizona today, but made a quick stop at Lake Balmorhea first thing. Stopped under the overpass long enough to confirm Cave Swallow and record the Rock Pigeons making a bunch of noise. Got to the lake, stuck my five bucks in the door, and delighted to the calls of both Western and Clark's Grebes and their chicks! And I relished in something else I hadn't experienced since leaving San Diego: the smell of the wet desert! Crawling around to the back side of the lake, a goofy-looking Pyrrhuloxia popped up on a bush, and along the back side of the lake was a nice assortment of water birds: what I'm presuming to be Blue-winged Teal (they were all in eclipse plumage and were quite distant - and of course flew the minute I got the scope out L), a dowitcher, a Greater Yellowlegs, a Great Blue Heron, and even a Black Tern batting by in the distance! Coming around the corner a pair of Scaled Quail were down by the water, and on the west side of the road was another little wetland with several Black-necked Stilts and a couple of Ruddy Ducks. Down at the end of the road a Yellowthroat was singing, and a brilliant Blue Grosbeak sat right up on a mesquite! While enjoying this a night heron, White-faced Ibis, and Green Heron all sounded off somewhere. On the way out a Black-throated Sparrow sang in the distance, and Western Kingbirds were patrolling. I think I mentioned the last time I came out here how much this place reminds me of the fresh-water wetlands near the Salton Sea!

Mary Beth Stowe

McAllen, TX


Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Guest sightings: GMNP and Davis Mountains

This post has been slightly reformatted for the blog, but is being re-posted from Texbirds with Christian's permission (thank you!)


GMNP and Davis Mountains last week - possible Gray Hawk
Date: Tue, 28 Jul 2015

Hey there,
Sorry for the belated post. Had a great birding/hiking/camping trip last week out in West Texas with friends Matt Melendez and Michael Falconer mainly at Guadalupe Mountains National Park and Davis Mountains. Lots of rain. Hail and rain cut our time a little short in the back country, but we re-located to Davis Mountains and had a good time.

Monday 7/20/15 Short afternoon stop at McDonald Observatory, over to Van Horn, and up to GMNP.
Highlights included Hepatic Tanager pair at McDonald Observatory, and a big flock of Yellow-headed Blackbirds at Van Horn Cemetery. And steaks to go from Van Horn Steak House. Also eBird was upset at two Scissor-tailed Flycatchers at the cemetery. Pine Springs at GMNP has an active pair of Summer Tanagers, also great views of Blue Grosbeaks and Scott’s Orioles in the evening sunset. After dark had great looks at Common Poorwills near Frijole Ranch, as well as two huge magnificent meteors, one red and one blazing green, right after another. Matt the astronomer was pumped, as were we. Shockingly exhilarating.

Tuesday 7/21/15 up to Tejas Campground
At around 6:40 drove over to the rest area east of the park and saw the breeding Hooded Orioles, including at least one youngster. Started hike up to high country at around 9:00 AM, but it was not to warm on the hike; packs made it pretty hot and sweaty though. Highlights of the hike in included loads of singing Black-chinned Sparrows, a soaring Peregrine Falcon (bird of the trip for Falconer) and getting acquainted with the high country birds like Cordilleran Flycatcher and Pygmy Nuthatches.

Wednesday 7/22/15 Tejas Campground to Bowl and down
Woke up real early to hear the Mexican Whip-poor-wills. No owls. Hiked up to the bowl, hearing and seeing more of the high country birds including Warbling Vireo, Golden Eagle, a single Virginia’s Warbler, a pair of Pine Siskins, a Zone-tailed Hawk, but no Grace’s Warbler. Also found a tree that had exploded from lightning.

Thursday 7/23/15 Davis Mountains
Spend half the day at the Davis Mountains. No Montezuma Quail, but had Zone-tailed Hawks at the State Park and at Madera Canyon Trail. Here we also had 2 Gray Flycatchers. Had the Common Black-Hawk family along Limpia Creek. On the way out we also briefly saw a small buteo that was probably a Gray Hawk, (before reaching Wild Rose Pass) but only had a split second view as it flew by into the cottonwoods. Stopped and turned around but were never able to relocate it. Clearly a small buteo, with a boldly banded tail. Shape unlike Zone-tailed, and appeared more pale. Oh well maybe someone else will find it.

Also had a Zone-tailed Hawk just east of Ozona in Crockett County.

Good birding,

Christian Walker

Begin forwarded message:

> From: ebird-checklist@cornell.edu
> Subject: eBird Report - Guadalupe Mts. NP--The Bowl, Jul 22, 2015
> Date: July 28, 2015 at 7:41:48 PM CDT
> To: christian.walker@earthlink.net
> Guadalupe Mts. NP--The Bowl, Culberson, Texas, US
> Jul 22, 2015 5:00 AM - 4:00 PM
> Protocol: Traveling
> 9.6 mile(s)
> Comments: Birding with Michael Falconer and Matthew Melendez. Walked from Tejas Campground up the Juniper Trail, spent a lot of time in the bowl, walked the entire Bowl Trail, and then back out to the top of Bear Canyon. Clear, with some clouds, calm, 50 degrees in the morning, slowly warming up to 80 degrees about. Couldn't find a Grace's Warbler for the life of us. Damn. One of the best spots was by the creek in the Bowl which had water and constantly had birds coming in to a little pool by the spot in the trail where it pulls a u from going north-east to west.
> 40 species
> Turkey Vulture 4
> Golden Eagle 1 AD soaring in from the north over McKittrick Ridge (?) near lightning struck pine on Juniper Trail almost to Bowl. Wowie.
> Cooper's Hawk 2
> Zone-tailed Hawk 1 Nice adult soaring over the bowl
> Red-tailed Hawk 2
> Mexican Whip-poor-will 2 HO in Tejas Campground. Would only sing song once before shutting up for fifteen minutes or so.
> White-throated Swift 8
> Broad-tailed Hummingbird 5
> Rufous Hummingbird 1 Brilliant male briefly seen feeding at red flowers
> Acorn Woodpecker 2 At the creek in the Bowl
> Hairy Woodpecker (Rocky Mts.) 1 HO in Tejas Campground
> Northern Flicker (Red-shafted) 6
> Western Wood-Pewee 12 Loads in the open areas in the bowl
> Cordilleran Flycatcher 17 Mainly HO
> Ash-throated Flycatcher 1 Heard up in the Bowl
> Plumbeous Vireo 4
> Warbling Vireo 1 HO on Juniper Trail
> Steller's Jay 4 HO
> Violet-green Swallow 12 Flying high above the bowl. Definitely not WTSW
> Mountain Chickadee 46
> Bushtit (Interior) 20
> White-breasted Nuthatch 7
> Pygmy Nuthatch 17
> Brown Creeper 1
> Rock Wren 4 Family at Hunter Peak
> Canyon Wren 1 HO from Hunter Peak on outer face of range
> House Wren 8
> Western Bluebird 3
> Hermit Thrush 14
> Virginia's Warbler 1 M in the very top of a pine in the bowl. Flew in from a while a way, stayed for two minutes and then flew on. Out of habitat and acting like it.
> Yellow-rumped Warbler (Audubon's) 3 At the creek in the Bowl
> Spotted Towhee 9
> Rufous-crowned Sparrow 2
> Chipping Sparrow 2
> Black-chinned Sparrow 1 1 imm at the very top of Hunter Peak at about 8,300 ft. Crazy?
> Dark-eyed Junco (Red-backed) 9
> Hepatic Tanager 1
> Western Tanager 4
> Pine Siskin 2 A pair at the creek in the Bowl
> Lesser Goldfinch 3 In the Bowl
> View this checklist online at http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S24414520
> This report was generated automatically by eBird v3 (http://ebird.org)


Oh and also heard a Bell’s Vireo singing along Hwy 54 south to Van Horn on 7/22/15.


Many thanks to Christian Walker of Austin, TX for graciously allowing us to re-post his trip notes!