Saturday, October 30, 2010

Checkered Garter Snake

Tadpoles, beware! The snake most seen* in Brewster County (by us since July) is the Checkered Garter Snake (thanks to Joe for ID correction!)... and if you're among "fish, frogs, toads, tadpoles, worms, salamanders" etc, you're likely to be prey!

* For all of the fuss about snakes, we've seen two venomous individuals and closer to 15 non-venomous individuals, more than half being represented by one species; the Black-necked Garter Snake.

This dear little creature was found on October 28th among a tangle of sprinkler control wires in a subterranean cylinder, under a nice little green hatch. Alas, the sprinkler's main control valve was not down there, but the snake sure caused some excitement! Having never handled this species before, I wasn't sure how thrashy it would be (didn't want either of us to get zapped by the wires), but the assumption that it would behave similarly to other small, non-venomous snakes was correct.

Photos by Matt York.

No, it did not try to bite. It simply tried to get away from me, 'musking' all the while. So my hands reeked of snake excement for a while, but the photo-op with the red tongue was completely worth it! For a snake that was barely over one foot long, it sure was smelly.


Friday, October 29, 2010

Big Bend; Rio Grande Village, Dugout Wells

All of these observations are from October 27 - apologies for the two game delay, it's not ever often that the Texas Rangers are in the World Series!

We spent about three hours in the Rio Grande Village area and then maybe half an hour at Dugout Wells on our way out - emphasis has been added on 'first of season' species.

Location name: Big Bend NP--Rio Grande Village

10 duck sp.
1 Greater Roadrunner
1 Belted Kingfisher
1 Green Kingfisher
X Golden-fronted Woodpecker
1 Ladder-backed Woodpecker
2 Northern Flicker (Red-shafted)
1 Black Phoebe
2 Eastern Phoebe
2 Say's Phoebe
1 Vermilion Flycatcher
2 Loggerhead Shrike
2 Common Raven
X Verdin
1 Brown Creeper
1 Cactus Wren
1 Rock Wren
1 Bewick's Wren
1 Marsh Wren
1 Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
1 Black-tailed Gnatcatcher
1 Golden-crowned Kinglet
X Ruby-crowned Kinglet
1 Gray Catbird
1 Northern Mockingbird
X Curve-billed Thrasher
1 Orange-crowned Warbler
X Yellow-rumped Warbler (Audubon's)
2 Vesper Sparrow
3 Savannah Sparrow
1 Northern Cardinal
X Pyrrhuloxia

Total species reported: 31

Apologies, also for the "X" notations; we're trying to tailor our notes to fit ebird, but occasionally it just doesn't work out. Especially start/end times, distances, etc. Sometimes you just need to bird without the confines of a form. So for "X" please consider it a constant awareness, if not a high number.

Location name: Big Bend NP--Dugout Wells

4 Scaled Quail
1 Greater Roadrunner
1 Ladder-backed Woodpecker
1 Northern Flicker (Red-shafted)
1 Verdin
1 Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
1 Ruby-crowned Kinglet
3 Northern Mockingbird
X Yellow-rumped Warbler (Audubon's)
3 Brewer's Sparrow
1 Dark-eyed Junco

Total species reported: 11

Lists generated by

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Mexican Agapema marches on

This male was discovered in the Marathon Motel Cafe by Dione Tedrick-Belshe, who also took this photo from her cell phone.

Agapema anona dyari was first discovered on motel grounds back on 8 October 2010.

Since then several more individuals of this beautiful silkmoth have been encountered.

The adults of this species reach their peak flight in October - November.

Hopefully we will encounter more here in the Marathon Basin this fall.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Big Bend NP road construction

For anyone visiting the park in the next 3+ months, beware road construction!

The northern access road (Persimmon Gap, south of Marathon) is one lane for a few miles between the Persimmon Gap visitor's center and Panther Junction. The expected wait time at that spot is 20 minutes.

Just outside of Rio Grande Village, on the east side of the park, there is more construction - again, one lane is closed and the delay can be up to 20 minutes. BEWARE LOOSE GRAVEL. Construction speed limit on that stretch is 25 mph and the road is being resurfaced (with gravel), so be sure to keep a good following distance - your windshield will thank you.

Rumor has it that the western entrance also has some construction, so it may be in the same condition as the previously mentioned spots.

The campground up in the basin is closed for construction as well.

Call BBNP for construction updates and information on delays.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Montezuma Quail and Balmorhea

No, the Montezuma Quail was not at Balmorhea. One adult male was crossing Hwy 90 about 11 miles west of Marathon at 9:36 am. It was along the curve in the gap between the Del Norte range and the Glass Mountains.

We were on our way to Balmorhea State Park and the lake. Sadly, the state park seems to have severely neglected the cienega under water viewing area and has some serious lack-of-management issues with the cattails. I'm sure its budget cuts haven't helped (yet the pool area is still well kept because it's the main tourist draw), but the cienega habitat is disappointing at best for now.

So, without further delay:
Location name: Lake Balmorhea, Reeves, US-TX
Observation date: 10/26/10
1 Snow Goose
1 Ross's Goose
5 Gadwall
15 American Wigeon
2 Mallard (Mexican)
82 Ruddy Duck
6 Scaled Quail
10 Pied-billed Grebe
13 Eared Grebe
1 Western Grebe
90 Clark's Grebe
5 Western/Clark's Grebe
1 Double-crested Cormorant
6 Great Blue Heron
1 Great Egret
1 Snowy Egret
1 Cattle Egret
3 Osprey
2 Northern Harrier
1 Red-tailed Hawk
1 Merlin
1 Prairie Falcon
40 American Coot
1 Sandhill Crane
5 Semipalmated Plover
1 Killdeer
6 Spotted Sandpiper
4 Greater Yellowlegs
1 Lesser Yellowlegs
1 Long-billed Curlew
1 Pectoral Sandpiper
10 Long-billed Dowitcher
20 Ring-billed Gull
3 Mourning Dove
1 Greater Roadrunner
2 Belted Kingfisher
1 Ladder-backed Woodpecker
1 Northern Flicker
1 Black Phoebe
3 Say's Phoebe
2 Vermilion Flycatcher
4 Common Raven
3 Verdin
1 Cactus Wren
2 Rock Wren
2 Bewick's Wren
3 House Wren
1 Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
1 Black-tailed Gnatcatcher
1 Northern Mockingbird
5 Yellow-rumped Warbler (Audubon's)
1 Common Yellowthroat
5 Clay-colored Sparrow
5 Brewer's Sparrow
2 Vesper Sparrow
8 Black-throated Sparrow
30 Lark Bunting
2 Lincoln's Sparrow
4 White-crowned Sparrow
15 Pyrrhuloxia
1 Red-winged Blackbird
1 Western Meadowlark
3 meadowlark sp.
15 Great-tailed Grackle
2 Brown-headed Cowbird
3 Lesser Goldfinch

Total species reported: 66

Report generated by eBird

Misc notes:
At least two pairs of the Clark's Grebes were still in courtship mode, 3 young grebes were so downy that they couldn't be narrowed to Clark's or Western, only one definitive Western was seen. It's a beautiful spot to bird, peaceful and very productive in terms of diversity. Wish I had more energy to elaborate!

On our way back into Marathon (sometime around 6 pm?) we did see one Aplomado Falcon fly over the road west of town. There were kestrels on the wires nearby, but there was no confusion over ID (kestrels never show a completely dark under-tail, Merlins lack the contrast).

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Groove-billed Ani photos

This post alluded to THIS photo:

...and this one:

...and this one:

 that's your photo documentation for Groove-billed Ani (Crotophaga sulcirostris) for Marathon, TX - first known record outside of Big Bend National Park! All photos in this post are by Matthew York, with apologies for not discovering that the camera was set to 2 megapixels instead of the 10 it was supposed to be! Sure beats that first photo, though!

Groove-billed Ani update coming soon..

.., as in this afternoon.

Heidi located the bird in the Marathon Motel Courtyard's big Retama.

I was busy talking about the organic garden to a guest from the Santa Fe, NM area. Got a call from Heidi, with winded breath, telling me where it was. I happened to have a camera with me.


pics will be up at some point this afternoon/evening.

It had been two weeks of silence from a bird we assumed flapped along its merry way, until I heard it yesterday.

VERY few records of GROOVE-BILLED ANI (Crotophaga sulcirostris) out here. I figure next to zero outside of Big Bend Nat'l Park and its "Rio Grande Village."

One member of the dual-owner team even got a life bird out of it. Don't have to go to the Lower Rio Grande Valley for that target bird now, Mindy.

I'm doing all I can, on my lunch break not to report this and write it up for list serves.
Heidi will have the opportunity this afternoon.

Mindy and Heidi also heard a "First of fall/winter Season" Red-Breasted Nuthatch (Sitta canadensis).

Exciting times.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Mexican Agapema continue

(photo by Heidi Trudell)

Agapema anona dyari

What was an exciting new moth species for us has turned into an exciting companion being on the grounds at Marathon Motel. Repeatedly!

Yesterday, yet another. This time on the screen door on the side of the equipment room.
This time a female.

The dimorphism between male and female of this species is quaint, but noticeable. The female is a bit larger, and not as contrasting between colors in her patterning.

Here is a link on the species and some notes on a study in south-central New Mexico. Check out that cocoon. Amazing!

Agapema anona dyari

We now have encountered SIX individuals in the last two weeks around the property.

I'm hoping for number seven tomorrow.

This week in birds: Oct. 18-23

I realize that it hasn't actually been a full week yet, but it's close enough for our purposes! Sightings by Matt York (MY) and Heidi Trudell unless otherwise noted.

Oct. 19:
Blue-winged Teal - 5 females at Post Park
Belted Kingfisher - 1 heard at Post Park

domestic ducks - sometime in the last two weeks, someone left 5 white ducks (and a domestic mallard-type) at the park... fecal accumulation and feathers are piling up everywhere; it's very disappointing

Oct. 23:
GROOVE-BILLED ANI - heard (by MY only) at 9:35 AM on grounds at the Marathon Motel; it was not seen though positively identified by voice (we're hopeful that it has not left the area after all!)
Mountain Bluebird - flock of 6 seen around noon

[Edit: Oct 24 - Red-breasted Grosbeak - heard only, GROOVE BILLED ANI photographed!]

The "usual suspects" are still present in good numbers in their expected places; Post Park still harbored a few Summer Tanagers, Yellow-billed Cuckoos, Black Phoebes, Lark Sparrows, gobs of Audubon's Yellow-rumped Warblers and Lesser Goldfinches. Only one American Goldfinch was

Marathon Motel has seen a decrease in Scissor-tailed Flycatchers around the property edges as they move out, but Curve-billed Thrashers, Cactus Wrens, Canyon Towhees and Say's Phoebe are active as ever, Brewer's Blackbird numbers continue to increase.

Around town, kingbird numbers have plummeted with the cooler weather that has moved in and no nighthawks have been noted. The vulture roost on the NE side of town continues to hold ~20 birds, but the hundreds from earlier in the month have certainly moved on. Swallows other than Northern Rough-winged Swallows (a group of 10-15) are also long gone.

Wilson's Warblers continue to taunt us with our vain hopes of other bright yellow warbler species. Red-shafted Northern Flickers have increased, Pyrrhuloxia have been loitering around the slab at our place as well as a stumpy-tailed Curve-billed Thrasher and the resident Inca Doves.

Monday, October 18, 2010


October has been a fantastic month for moths in Brewster County. Without actually trying, we've seen a good number of our nocturnal neighbors - these are the highlights so far!

October 12
Ailanthus webworm moth (Atteva aurea) [official identification pending]

(photo by Heidi Trudell)

Found clambering around a wood pile at the Marathon Motel, the Ailanthus webworm moth is a little orange moth with blue patches and white dots... very ornate for such a tiny creature! I wish the macro had been more cooperative, but this photo at least keeps true colors; the lighting was tricky.

October 8-11
Mexican Agapema (Agapema anona)

(photo by Matt York)

At least three individuals have been found at the Marathon Motel, and all of the live ones have been male (note the fuzzy antennae; all the better to smell pheromones). For a demure, gray-scale moth, the bright pink dashes at each wing tip are quite the accent!

October 2
Vine Sphinx (Eumorpha vitis)

(photo by Matt York)

This deceased individual (found at the Marathon Motel) was only our second collective encounter with the Vine Sphinx. The bold markings are distinct enough that once you've seen it, you definitely remember it.

September 29 (shh, it's close enough to October!)
Istar Sphinx (Lintneria istar)

(photo by Matt York)

This fellow was on the side of Alpine's DPS building - but it's still in Brewster County!

First Brewster County Documentation

(photo by Matt York)

Urbanus dorantes, Dorantes Longtail skipper

Discovered yesterday afternoon in the Lantana bed in front of Cabin 9 & 10 at Marathon Motel, Marathon, Brewster County, TX.

(Photo by Matt York)

" I don't show any records for U. dorantes from West Texas." - Vice President/Editor-in-Chief, Texas Lepidoptera Survey.

He says, "West Texas."
Not just Brewster County.
Not just the tri-county area of the "Big Bend."
Not just the trans-Pecos.

All of West Texas.

Here's a map of this species' documented occurrence from Butterflies and Moths of North America:

And a map a little closer to home:

So, within this particular database it seems this bug hasn't been documented west of Edwards County (Rocksprings) or so.

And remember the quote from above. This from THE record keeper amongst the gurus in the Lone Star, "... no records in West Texas."

That's a lot of area.
I was familiar with this species from my time spent working and playing in the Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas.

It does go to show that proper habitat; that is, host plant, shelter, nectar and nourishment sources, goes a long way.

The Marathon Motel is a bit of a butterfly and moth oasis in the middle of a high-desert grassland.

Go ahead and shade Brewster County in blue.

(photo by Matt York)

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Tropical Buckeye (dark-form) this morning ...

... at Marathon Motel's courtyard.

This picture was of an individual back in mid-July on private property east of Marathon.

The Junonia evarete nigrosuffusa seen this morning was far darker than the individual in this picture. So dark, that only the pale forewing band showed in flight yet even that was mostly obscured.

Perhaps it will land later in the day, or tomorrow, so we might have a chance of a photo. Junonia species seem to be very skittish when I approach. Heidi seems to have better luck than I in the past.

Butterflies in October in the trans-Pecos of the state (of mind) of far-west Texas, hard to beat it.

Come on out and enjoy it all.

Both photos taken by Heidi back in mid-July 2010 on private land, here in the basin, east of town.

This week in butterflies: Oct. 10-17

These butterflies were seen on grounds at the Marathon Motel between October 10-17 as recorded by Matt York. They are in somewhat chronological order.

Tropical Leafwing*
Pipevine Swallowtail
Black Swallowtail
Arizona Sister*
Lyside Sulpher
Southern Dogface
Mexican Yellow
Sleepy Orange
Gray Hairstreak
Tawny Emperor
Empress Lelia
Pearl Crescent
Texan Crescent
Bordered Patch
Painted Lady
Red Admiral
Orange Skiperling
Sachem Skipper
Fiery Skipper
Clouded Skipper
Eufala Skipper
Common Buckeye
American Snout
Common/White Checkered Skipper
Gulf Fritillary
Mournful Duskywing
Eleda Checkerspot*
Dotted Roadside Skipper*
Gray Ministreak*
Checkered White
Clouded Sulpher
Orange Sulpher
Cloudless Sulpher
Reakirt's Blue
Common Maestra
American Lady
Dainty Sulpher
Western Pygmy Blue
Goatweed Leafwing
Theona Checkerspot*
Tropical Buckeye*
Dorantes Longtail* (potential first county and Trans-Pecos region record)
Desert Checkered Skipper

* indicates single individual

Theona Checkerspot, photo by Heidi Trudell

This week in birds: Oct. 10-17

The observations below are as recorded by Matt York, seen on the Marathon Motel property.

10 October
Wilson's Warbler - courtyard trees
Yellow-rumped Warbler (Audubon's) - many on property, including garden
GROOVE-BILLED ANI - see previous post
Lark Bunting - 10-15 birds, flyovers

11 October
White-crowned Sparrow - numerous around property, singing in courtyard
Brewer's Blackbird - numerous around property
Say's Phoebe - cafe

14 October
American Pipit - heard on west side of property
Lincoln's Sparrow - west side fenceline
White-crowned Sparrow - many in garden
Ruby-crowned Kinglet - ~5 in cottonwood on west side

15 October
Northern Flicker (Red-shafted) - flying east along northern property line

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Groove-billed Ani, Marathon, TX

Brewster County:
Groove-billed Ani -- first report: Oct 10; last update: Oct 10
On the morning Oct 10 Matt York spotted a Groove-billed Ani at the Marathon Motel in Marathon. His wife Heidi Trudell also saw the bird and photographed it. At the NW corner of the motel property there is a little patch of trees which is where the ani was seen. An attempt to relocate the bird in the afternoon was unsuccessful...

[entry is backdated]

Friday, October 8, 2010

Agapema anona

Originally posted over at Seetrail; backdated here.

alias Mexican Agapema, alias Greasewood Silkmoth, alias William H. Bonney....

Heidi gave me a call this morning:
H- Matt, get your butt up here and get the camera out of the jeep
me- okay, okay.... , I am working in here.
H- alright, just hurry
me - okay...., what is i -


WOW!!!!!! Great find, Heidi! Agapema anona is a member of the family Saturniidae, or "Silkmoths". The members of this family are our largest moths, however they are not always humongous. This particular individual's wingspans might be slightly longer than two quarters stacked side-by-side. Absolutely spectacular male on a very cool morning. I can tell this guy is male due to the crazy feathery antennae. This attribute detects the subtle fragrance of a pheromone released by the female. This is intentional on her part, and is in a way.. a "call ." With a breeze, this male may be able to detect a "call" from half a mile a way.

A. anona larva feed on various condalia (Condalia spp.) and Greasewood (Sarcobatus spp). Certainly some of that around. Adult females spin the cocoon in the branches of these host-plants. This species is thus far known to range from SE Arizona, S New Mexico, and far-west Texas.


We are happy to range here too.


Edit: this lovely fellow was found early in the morning out near the public laundry room at the Marathon Motel. -heidi

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Post Park inhabitants

Originally posted over at Seetrail; backdated here.

September 5th was when these photos were taken, and yes, other older photos will start to pop up on the blog, now that things are settling down.

Ah, tent caterpillars...

Post Park, also known as Fort Pena Colorado Park, or The Post, is a county park about 5 miles south of Marathon. The birding is fantastic. So are the butterflies (not to mention moths; we found a Poplar Sphinx there!) Anyway, while the juv Canyon Towhee seen begging earlier in the season was still begging, we found a few other juvies being a bit less dependent:

Young Vermillion Flycatcher out over the pond.

Young Zone-tailed Hawk on a yucca.

The Zone-tail was first seen up in a high cottonwood tree, Matt found it and pointed it out to me - we immediately assumed Common Black Hawk due to habitat and, well, it was perched. Zone-tailed Hawks never perch (common knowledge). Once we realized that the tail was not particularly banded, we quickly wavered over whether or not this could be an insanely dark Red-tailed Hawk... wing length vs. tail length and a solidly dark back helped ease our concerns. Finally when it flew we had a perfect Turkey Vulture mimic; Zone-tailed it was! And one short, adult tail feather was growing in, so as it cruised the area we were able to reassure ourselves that the ID was correct.

Only one tarantula was seen at the park on the 5th; one of those bound and determined to get to wherever it was going, not stopping for photos nor introductions. The bright abdominal fuzz was so attention grabbing that I crawled along for quite a while just trying to get a decent angle while it ran southwest. Trying to lure it onto my hand just resulted in it trying to find a detour. Such pacifists!

(Note: it shows up a bit larger than life-sized on my screen... it's really a bit smaller than my hand.)

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Cave Swallow using Barn Swallow nest

This is a Barn Swallow on a Barn Swallow nest:

(photo taken in Marathon, TX by Matt York)

...and this is a Cave Swallow nest on a Barn Swallow nest:

(photo taken at the Marathon Motel, by Heidi Trudell)

As you can see, the classic Barn Swallow cup shape is obscured by little globs of dried mud that do not have bits of grass or feathers. In the photo below, you can clearly see the Cave Swallow mud globs have been added to a mud-and-straw base, essentially adding a new layer to the nest and converting it from a Barn to a Cave Swallow structure.

In my haste, when I first saw the nest, I assumed that it was a Cliff Swallow nest that had an incomplete nest hole. Thanks to Mitch from Utopia for pointing out that the description was far more Cave than incomplete Cliff!

For reference, here are Cliff Swallow nests (on an actual cliff!) ...see how gourd-shaped they are? So Cave Swallow nests do look like Cliffs that are under construction, but I should have noticed that the nest had been completed.

(photo taken in Terlingua, TX, by Heidi Trudell)

Some discussion from Joe Kennedy regarding swallow nest use:

When Cave Swallows first nested on the [Upper Texas Coast], they picked the old boat shed at McFaddin Refuge which they used to store the boats used on the "see an alligator" tours. Barn, Cave, and Cliff Swallows shared the space under the eaves and in the boat shed for nests. There was lots of nest stealing and birds ended up in the wrong places. Some were inside over the water or docks but many were outside like on any building. No other Caves for more than 100 or 200 miles. [Cave Swallows were rare on the Upper Texas Coast in the late 90's, they now nest annually in good numbers. -h]

Barns arrived first and grabbed the best spots which were often old nests of other birds, then Cliffs and finally Caves. Caves would take over both Barn and Cliff nests and finish them and would even go into full Cave domes. [Barn Swallow nests are always 'cups' and never reach a 'dome' state like Cliff and Cave. -h]

This spring I had no Caves but Tree Swallows were going into old Cliff Swallow nests. nest 'stealing' is not uncommon; it may be important for Cave Swallow expansion!

And a note from Dr. Keith Arnold:

I characterisize the three swallows as this: Cliff - highly social; Cave - semi-social; and Barn - more-or-less solitary [and yes, I know that more than one pair of Barn Swallows will use the same culvert or overpass]. Cave Swallows usually are found in small groups, with nests placed 4-6 feet apart.

The Cave Swallow nest at the motel was sharing a porch with two Barn Swallow nests; it falls perfectly into Dr. A's assessment of nest placement and social structure.

[entry is backdated]

Monday, October 4, 2010

lurking in the shadows

Originally posted over at Seetrail; backdated here.

One month ago, late into the night, Matt and I heard a large flying-insect type noise in our bedroom. We thought nothing of it, as moths were regular visitors.

The second night that we heard it, Matt had turned on the light and saw a huge, fluttery, shadowy beast. How this visitor entered the house, we do not know. We do know that the amusement factor was directly proportional to the amount of shadow chasing.

What invertebrate lurked in the shadows of our bedroom?

...a praying mantis, of course.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Tuna juice is pink

Originally posted over at Seetrail; backdated here.

Mmmm, tuna juice. No, seriously, the fruit of the prickly pear is called a tuna. Nopal is the green pad. So juicing a tuna isn't nearly as bizarre as it sounds... but it does confuse people when you talk about going around town picking tunas to juice. Especially when you live in pretty much a desert!

The juicing setup: buckets of tunas, a huge rinsing tub, a chopper/grinder thing, bucket for juice, press, screen, clean containers. You can see where this is going, right?

Tuna puree! Of course, since I ended up helping after snapping these photos (and I wasn't thinking about it during the 2 weeks we sipped upon a small fraction of the harvest), this is all the evidence I've got for the juicing of the tunas. Most of the juice was frozen, to later be turned into margaritas and wine, but what was consumed fresh was also consumed with care - apparently it has enough antioxidants to mess you up if you drink more than 1/2 a cup or so per day. Just sayin' (one of the guys there ended up drinking about 3 cups and Did Not Feel Well). Oh, and it is like magenta henna if it gets on your skin. Not to mention clothing!

Exciting factoid: cochineal yields an identical magenta dye. You are what you eat, no?

While on the topic of pink things:

Strawberry Tres Leches - does not transport well. Tastes like heaven. Except for the crazy pink stuff on top, that was concentrated sugar with sugar extract and more sugar. And maybe a funky strawberry flavor additive. But overall, we felt good knowing that our purchase for the bake sale would help fund prom for Marathon High. Rumor has it the graduating class this year is four.

(This post's photos were taken around September 3rd)

Eumorpha vitis

Originally posted over at Seetrail; backdated here.

Vine Sphinx

Found first thing this morning in near-perfect condition floating in the courtyard fountain at work. Drowned.


First one since Junction, Kimble Co., TX in summer 2009.

Spring Valley Elementary. in Hewitt, TX, had one of these guys in '09, too.. link.
That one, a McLennan County first.

Nothing nicer than a sphingid first thing in the morning. Well, not a whole lot. Some things. More than some. A few?

Like what?

Friday, October 1, 2010

September summary, Marathon, TX

This list reflects observations made in/around Marathon, TX, including Post Park, during September 2010 to the best of our recollection. Species are considered common unless otherwise noted. Locations indicate place(s) of observation.

Scaled Quail - Marathon Motel, road to Post Park
Wild Turkey - Post Park
Turkey Vulture - several seasonally fluctuating roosts around town
Osprey - Hwy 90
Cooper's Hawk - riparian area along train tracks on the west side of town
Broad-winged Hawk - NE side of town (late Sept.)
Swainson's Hawk - Hwy 90
Zone-tailed Hawk - Post Park (juv. seen Sept. 5 - see photo at the end of the post)
Red-tailed Hawk - Hwy 90
American Kestrel - Hwy 90
Aplomado Falcon* - young birds from release site east of town
American Coot - resident at Post Park
Upland Sandpiper - abundant nocturnal migrant
Rock Pigeon - one flock in town
Eurasian Collared-Dove - abundant in town
White-winged Dove - abundant in town
Mourning Dove - road to Post Park
Inca Dove - abundant in town
Yellow-billed Cuckoo - Post Park
Lesser Nighthawk - edges of town
Common Nighthawk - edges of town
Black-chinned Hummingbird - feeders in town
Golden-fronted Woodpecker - Post Park
Ladder-backed Woodpecker - around town
Northern Flicker - newly arrived migrant
Black Phoebe - Post Park
Say's Phoebe - Post Park, Marathon Motel
Vermillion Flycatcher - Post Park, some yards in town
Ash-throated Flycatcher - few lingering in town, most departed
Cassin's Kingbird - around town
Western Kingbird - few lingering in town, most departed
Scissor-tailed Flycatcher - young have departed, adults still moving through
Loggerhead Shrike - Marathon Motel
Bell's Vireo - Post Park
Chihuahuan Raven - edges of town (flyovers)
Common Raven - edges of town (flyovers)
Barn Swallow - massing for migration
Cliff Swallow - around town, Marathon Motel
Cave Swallow - Hwy 90 wash near Alpine
Cactus Wren - around town, Marathon Motel
Canyon Wren - Post Park
Black-tailed Gnatcatcher - Post Park, Marathon Motel
Ruby-crowned Kinglet - around town, Marathon Motel
Northern Mockingbird - around town
Curve-billed Thrasher - around town
European Starling - around town
Yellow-rumped Warbler (Audubon's) - Post Park, Marathon Motel
Wilson's Warbler - Marathon Motel, Post Park
Spotted Towhee - one heard in town
Canyon Towhee - around town
Cassin's Sparrow - edges of town
Field Sparrow - Post Park
Lark Sparrow - around town
Black-throated Sparrow - edges of town
Lark Bunting - edges of town (flyovers)
White-crowned Sparrow - one heard at Post Park
Summer Tanager - Post Park, around town
Western Tanager - Post Park, around town
Northern Cardinal - around town
Pyrrhuloxia - around town
Blue Grosbeak - road to Post Park
Painted Bunting - Post Park
Eastern Meadowlark - road to Post Park
Yellow-headed Blackbird - NE side of town, Hwy 90 near Alpine
Brewer's Blackbird - new arrivals around town
Great-tailed Grackle - around town in decreasing numbers
Brown-headed Cowbird - around town in decreasing numbers
Scott's Oriole - NE side of town
House Finch - around town, Marathon Motel
Lesser Goldfinch - around town, Post Park
American Goldfinch - Post Park
House Sparrow - around town

(Zone-tailed Hawk, photo by Heidi Trudell)

Notably absent:
Most hummingbirds (Ruby-throated and Rufous) migrated through in the last two weeks of August, so none other than Black-chinned were observed in September. Orioles, other than Scott's, seem to have departed in August. Barn Owls and Great Horned Owls were not heard in the evenings, Bronzed Cowbirds departed in August and the only shorebird migrants noted were Upland Sandpipers in decreasing numbers.

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