Sunday, November 25, 2012

Thanksgiving in the Trans-Pecos

From Willie Sekula, with permission... and a note of "The sparrow numbers were amazing especially on FM 1832!" 

Date has been modified to reflect the 25 Nov post, so it may appear out of order for the RSS feed.


Derek Muschalek, Tim Lenz and I birded West Texas over an extended Thanksgiving.  We birded Marathon, Big Bend National Park (Rio Grande Village, Dugout Wells, The Basin, Sam Nail Ranch, Cottonwood Campground, Santa Elena), Carolyn Ohl Johnson's Christmas Mountain Oasis (Many Thanks to Carolyn!), Alpine, Davis Mountains (Lawrence E Wood Picnic Area, McDonald Observatory), FM 1832, Balmorhea (Cemetery & Lake).  We also made numerous stops along the various roads whenever we saw birds.

Overall the birding was very good.  The number of sparrows and diversity was excellent with FM 1832 producing incredible numbers of Clay-colored, Brewer's, Vesper & White-crowned Sparrows along with Cassin's, Savannah & Grasshopper Sparrows. Overall we recorded 17 species of sparrows!

It was pretty exciting to arrive at Panther Junction on Wednesday afternoon while it was raining!  A pretty rare sight in November. I think The Basin received 0.18" of rain that day/night.

There were still lots of blooming wildflowers (for Thanksgiving) with an amazing variety and number of butterflies (including a Mexican Silverspot at Rio Grande Village) along with a decent number of odonates.

Birds of Note:
Montezuma Quail (several calling birds at Lawrence E Wood)
Wild Turkey 4 (Lawrence E Wood)
American Bittern 1 (Lake Balmorhea)
Snowy Egret 1 (Lake Balmorhea)
Osprey 1 (Rio Grande Village)
Bald Eagle 1 adult (Lake Balmorhea)
Greater Yellowlegs 1 (Rio Grande Village)
Common Poorwill 1 (calling at Rio Grande Village)
White-throated Swift 24 (Casa Grande)
Anna's Hummingbird 4-5 (Rio Grande Village); 1 (old sewage ponds - The Basin)
Selasphorus sp. 1 (The Basin)
Williamson's Sapsucker 1 male (Marathon Cemetery - initially spotted by Derek) & another male (Lawrence E Wood)
Gray Flycatcher 1 (Cottonwood Campground)
Western Scrub-Jay 1 (The Basin)
Nine species of Wren (Thanksgiving Day):
Sedge (Rio Grande Village)
Varied Thrush 1 (Christmas Mountains Oasis)
Chestnut-collared Longspur 35 (Lake Balmorhea)
Black-throated Gray Warbler 5 (Rio Grande Village)
American Redstart 1 female (Cottonwood Campground - seen along Rio Grande River)

I may have left out some birds of note due to being very tired from a lot of driving!  We ended up with 153 species for the trip.

Willie Sekula
Falls City

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