Thursday, April 25, 2013

on the move

Everything is on the move; Pectoral Sandpipers and Rusty Blackbirds and Pronghorn Antelope, oh my! People, too. So in our posting absence, please accept this offering of other wildlife on the move.

Bees swarming a cottonwood at Post Park, 17 April 2013

Yellow-headed Blackbirds near the Double Bacon Ranch, 21 April 2013

Bullsnake crossing Post Road, 17 April 2013

Bullsnake crossing Post Road, 17 April 2013

Wilson's Phalaropes at the SW ponds in Marathon, 17 April 2013

Wilson's Phalaropes at the SW ponds in Marathon, 17 April 2013

Wilson's Phalaropes at the SW ponds in Marathon, 17 April 2013

Wilson's Phalaropes at the SW ponds in Marathon, 17 April 2013

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Double Bacon Appreciation Week

With one week left at the Double Bacon Ranch, it seems appropriate to look back at all of the strange and wonderful wildlife that we've encountered on the property. When we first moved in, it was a tiny house with a naked yard. Our first spring, a porch was added. It was huuuge and lovely. But there's only so much that can be done with a place that makes a handyman swoon, especially if you're handy but not *that* handy!

Butterflies and moths featured heavily in our experience at DBR, as did wind scorpions and 'red racers' - the thrill of a bright, pale pink snake in the yard is entirely unparalleled. Moth flies were also a thrill, one at a time, until ~25 were amassed... I do hope they'll make a guest appearance in our future. Hindsight is a strange thing, it makes me realize that moth flies never made it into a blog post!

Native, non-domestic mammals were few and far between, but Striped Skunk (Mephitis mephitis) youngsters were certainly the mamal highlight of our 2.5 years at the Double Bacon; the occasional fox (gray, if I'm not mistaken) and raccoon would make token appearances, but by and large, the list was birds.

There are two birds to add to this list below; Rufous Hummingbird and Song Sparrow, the latter seen from the kitchen window by Matt. Each bird (128, including the previous two) was in some way detected from the property. Some flew over, some perched - just barely - on our side of the property line, or were heard from within its boundaries.The yard... oh, the yard.... highlights are in bold:

Scaled Quail - Callipepla squamata
Double-crested Cormorant - Phalacrocorax auritus
Great Blue Heron - Ardea herodias
Great Egret - Ardea alba
Cattle Egret - Bubulcus ibis
White-faced Ibis - Plegadis chihi
Turkey Vulture - Cathartes aura
Osprey - Pandion haliaetus
Mississippi Kite - Ictinia mississippiensis
Sharp-shinned Hawk - Accipiter striatus
Cooper's Hawk - Accipiter cooperii
Harris's Hawk - Parabuteo unicinctus
Broad-winged Hawk - Buteo platypterus
Zone-tailed Hawk - Buteo albonotatus
Red-tailed Hawk - Buteo jamaicensis
Sandhill Crane - Grus canadensis
Killdeer - Charadrius vociferus
Upland Sandpiper - Bartramia longicauda
Long-billed Curlew - Numenius americanus
Franklin's Gull - Leucophaeus pipixcan
Rock Pigeon - Columba livia
Eurasian Collared-Dove - Streptopelia decaocto
White-winged Dove - Zenaida asiatica
Mourning Dove - Zenaida macroura
Inca Dove - Columbina inca
Common Ground-Dove - Columbina passerina
Groove-billed Ani - Crotophaga sulcirostris
Barn Owl - Tyto alba
Great Horned Owl - Bubo virginianus
Lesser Nighthawk - Chordeiles acutipennis
Common Nighthawk - Chordeiles minor
Common Poorwill - Phalaenoptilus nuttallii
Ruby-throated Hummingbird - Archilochus colubris
Black-chinned Hummingbird - Archilochus alexandri
Anna's Hummingbird - Calypte anna
Broad-tailed Hummingbird - Selasphorus platycercus
Allen's Hummingbird - Selasphorus sasin
Belted Kingfisher - Megaceryle alcyon
Golden-fronted Woodpecker - Melanerpes aurifrons
Red-naped Sapsucker - Sphyrapicus nuchalis
Ladder-backed Woodpecker - Picoides scalaris
Northern Flicker - Colaptes auratus
American Kestrel - Falco sparverius
Merlin - Falco columbarius
Prairie Falcon - Falco mexicanus
Western Wood-Pewee - Contopus sordidulus
Willow Flycatcher - Empidonax traillii
Gray Flycatcher - Empidonax wrightii
Eastern Phoebe - Sayornis phoebe
Say's Phoebe - Sayornis saya
Vermilion Flycatcher - Pyrocephalus rubinus
Cassin's Kingbird - Tyrannus vociferans
Western Kingbird - Tyrannus verticalis
Scissor-tailed Flycatcher - Tyrannus forficatus
Western Scrub-Jay - Aphelocoma californica
American Crow - Corvus brachyrhynchos
Chihuahuan Raven - Corvus cryptoleucus
Common Raven - Corvus corax
Northern Rough-winged Swallow - Stelgidopteryx serripennis
Barn Swallow - Hirundo rustica
Cliff Swallow - Petrochelidon pyrrhonota
Cave Swallow - Petrochelidon fulva
Black-crested Titmouse - Baeolophus atricristatus
Verdin - Auriparus flaviceps
Red-breasted Nuthatch - Sitta canadensis
Brown Creeper - Certhia americana
Canyon Wren - Catherpes mexicanus
Bewick's Wren - Thryomanes bewickii
Cactus Wren - Campylorhynchus brunneicapillus
Ruby-crowned Kinglet - Regulus calendula
Swainson's Thrush - Catharus ustulatus
Hermit Thrush - Catharus guttatus
Gray Catbird - Dumetella carolinensis
Northern Mockingbird - Mimus polyglottos
Sage Thrasher - Oreoscoptes montanus
Brown Thrasher - Toxostoma rufum
Curve-billed Thrasher - Toxostoma curvirostre
European Starling - Sturnus vulgaris
Cedar Waxwing - Bombycilla cedrorum
Nashville Warbler - Oreothlypis ruficapilla
MacGillivray's Warbler - Geothlypis tolmiei
Common Yellowthroat - Geothlypis trichas
American Redstart - Setophaga ruticilla
Yellow Warbler - Setophaga petechia
Black-throated Blue Warbler - Setophaga caerulescens
Yellow-rumped Warbler - Setophaga coronata
Townsend's Warbler - Setophaga townsendi
Wilson's Warbler - Cardellina pusilla
Green-tailed Towhee - Pipilo chlorurus
Canyon Towhee - Melozone fusca
Cassin's Sparrow - Peucaea cassinii
Chipping Sparrow - Spizella passerina
Clay-colored Sparrow - Spizella pallida
Brewer's Sparrow - Spizella breweri
Vesper Sparrow - Pooecetes gramineus
Lark Sparrow - Chondestes grammacus
Black-throated Sparrow - Amphispiza bilineata
Lark Bunting - Calamospiza melanocorys
White-crowned Sparrow - Zonotrichia leucophrys
Dark-eyed Junco - Junco hyemalis
Summer Tanager - Piranga rubra
Western Tanager - Piranga ludoviciana
Pyrrhuloxia - Cardinalis sinuatus
Blue Grosbeak - Passerina caerulea
Lazuli Bunting - Passerina amoena
Indigo Bunting - Passerina cyanea
Varied Bunting - Passerina versicolor
Painted Bunting - Passerina ciris
Dickcissel - Spiza americana
Red-winged Blackbird - Agelaius phoeniceus
Western Meadowlark - Sturnella neglecta
Yellow-headed Blackbird - Xanthocephalus xanthocephalus
Brewer's Blackbird - Euphagus cyanocephalu
Great-tailed Grackle - Quiscalus mexicanus
Bronzed Cowbird - Molothrus aeneus
Brown-headed Cowbird - Molothrus ater
Orchard Oriole - Icterus spurius
Bullock's Oriole - Icterus bullockii
Baltimore Oriole - Icterus galbula
Scott's Oriole - Icterus parisorum
House Finch - Haemorhous mexicanus
Red Crossbill - Loxia curvirostra
Pine Siskin - Spinus pinus
Lesser Goldfinch - Spinus psaltria
American Goldfinch - Spinus tristis
House Sparrow - Passer domesticus

Our new adventure will have some challenges: mercury vapor lights across the street, no forest next door... no mature deciduous trees within a few blocks. Ultimately we hope it will provide a more flexible living space for us, even if the blacklighting isn't as good. Actually, we'll probably lose sleep over that. At least we'll be about 1/2 mile closer to Post Park and the SW ponds!

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Marathon 'patch' news

Starting with a butterfly update from the south side of town...
1 Common Streaky-skipper (Celotes nessus)

Monarchs are still trickling through in single digits along with Checkered Whites; there's so much birding to be done that the butterflies have mostly been incidental!

This week's birding along Post Road and at Post Park (* denotes new arrivals):

Scaled Quail (Callipepla squamata)
Wild Turkey (Meleagris gallopavo)
Pied-billed Grebe (Podilymbus podiceps)*
Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura)
Cooper's Hawk (Accipiter cooperii)
American Coot (Fulica americana)
Killdeer (Charadrius vociferus)
Eurasian Collared-Dove (Streptopelia decaocto)
White-winged Dove (Zenaida asiatica)
Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura)
Black-chinned Hummingbird (Archilochus alexandri)
Golden-fronted Woodpecker (Melanerpes aurifrons)
Ladder-backed Woodpecker (Picoides scalaris)
Vermilion Flycatcher (Pyrocephalus rubinus)
Ash-throated Flycatcher (Myiarchus cinerascens)
Western Kingbird (Tyrannus verticalis)
Bell's Vireo (Vireo bellii)
Cassin's Vireo (Vireo cassinii)*
Northern Rough-winged Swallow (Stelgidopteryx serripennis)*
Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica)
Cave Swallow (Petrochelidon fulva)
Verdin (Auriparus flaviceps)
Marsh Wren (Cistothorus palustris)
Cactus Wren (Campylorhynchus brunneicapillus)
Northern Mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos)
American Pipit (Anthus rubescens)
Common Yellowthroat (Geothlypis trichas)
Yellow-rumped Warbler (Setophaga coronata)
Wilson's Warbler (Cardellina pusilla)
Yellow-breasted Chat (Icteria virens)*
Spotted Towhee (Pipilo maculatus)
Canyon Towhee (Melozone fusca)
Cassin's Sparrow (Peucaea cassinii)
Brewer's Sparrow (Spizella breweri)
Lark Sparrow (Chondestes grammacus)
Black-throated Sparrow (Amphispiza bilineata)
Lark Bunting (Calamospiza melanocorys)
Lincoln's Sparrow (Melospiza lincolnii)
White-throated Sparrow (Zonotrichia albicollis)
White-crowned Sparrow (Zonotrichia leucophrys)
Summer Tanager (Piranga rubra)
Pyrrhuloxia (Cardinalis sinuatus)
Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus)
Rusty Blackbird (Euphagus carolinus)
Hooded Oriole (Icterus cucullatus)*
House Finch (Haemorhous mexicanus)
Pine Siskin (Spinus pinus)

Rusty Blackbird, Post Road 19 April, 2013

Rusty Blackbird, Post Road 19 April, 2013

Marathon "patch" outside of Post:

Gadwall (Anas strepera)
American Wigeon (Anas americana)
Mexican Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)
Northern Shoveler (Anas clypeata)
Green-winged Teal (Anas crecca)
Bufflehead (Bucephala albeola)
Ruddy Duck (Oxyura jamaicensis)
Eared Grebe (Podiceps nigricollis)
Cattle Egret (Bubulcus ibis)*
Spotted Sandpiper (Actitis macularius)
Wilson's Phalarope (Phalaropus tricolor)*
Inca Dove (Columbina inca)
Say's Phoebe (Sayornis saya)
Cassin's Kingbird (Tyrannus vociferans)
Scissor-tailed Flycatcher (Tyrannus forficatus)*
Cliff Swallow (Petrochelidon pyrrhonota)
Curve-billed Thrasher (Toxostoma curvirostre)
Brown-headed Cowbird (Molothrus ater)

"Patch" highlights from the previous week:

Franklin's Gull (Leucophaeus pipixcan)
Plumbeous Vireo (Vireo plumbeous)*

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Pronghorn Antelope

Pronghorn Antelope, Post Road, Marathon, Tx 17 April 2013
Pronghorn Antelope are native to the region but undergoing a serious decline and the population out here is currently part of a reintroduction program. A pair was spotted along Post Road (roughly 1/3 of the way between Marathon and Post Park) on 17 April by Bill Sain. I was able to photograph the buck from the vehicle as it casually inspected us from a distance before heading north and east.

Pronghorn Antelope, Post Road, Marathon, Tx 17 April 2013
Post Road has been a reasonable area to spot them in past years, though we've noted fewer since the fire/drought/freeze combination of 2011 kicked in. Above, beyond the hill, there should be a range of mountains visible. Wind and dust has made visibility miserable in the last week.

Pronghorn Antelope, Post Road, Marathon, Tx 17 April 2013
To see what's going on with Pronghorn reintroduction and monitoring efforts, check out the Borderlands Research Institute at Sul Ross State University.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Big Bend National Park, Post Park update

What happens when a Floridian birds Big Bend National Park? Reports! Kudos to Alexander Harper for the following report:
Unfortunately these notes are a week to two weeks old, though it's no fault of the reporter -- your bloggers are in the middle of moving!
Prairie Falcon in the park just outside of Study Butte
Golden Eagle east of Panther Junction
Scaled Quail everywhere
Crissal Thrasher near the entrance to RGV campground
Black-throated Gray Wablers
Upper Chisos Mts:
Blue-throated Hummingbirds (2)
Colima Warbler (4-5)
Painted Redstart
Spring is finally settling in to Marathon as well; Summer Tanagers, Ash-throated Flycatchers and Bell's Vireos are in at Post Park, where they'll stick around for the summer, and Wilson's Warblers, Townsend's Warblers and a smattering of other migrants are trickling through.
It should be a wonderful migration!

Friday, April 5, 2013

a little early, a little lost

What yonder haze doth obscure...

Pectoral Sandpiper (Calidris melanotos)

Pectoral Sandpipers have been known to pass through the Trans-Pecos in low numbers in April; the individual above was photographed at the ponds SW of Marathon (publicly inaccessible, unfortunately) on March 31st. So this bird is not only a bit out of range, but also a bit early and due to backlighting and heat haze, less than photogenic. But we're not hung up on the art so much as the documentation...

Incomplete list from the ponds:
American Wigeon
Mallard (Mexican)
Northern Shoveler
Ring-necked Duck
Ruddy Duck
Turkey Vulture
American Coot
Lesser Yellowlegs
Least Sandpiper
Pectoral Sandpiper
Wilson's Snipe
Say's Phoebe
Barn Swallow
American Pipit
Chestnut-collared Longspur