One thing that is certain to happen is good birds are found in our absence.
This held true back on December 1st for one species:
Lewis's Woodpecker (Melanerpes lewis), about 10 miles south of Alpine, Brewster County.
This morning, I paid a visit.
Originally discovered by visiting Texas birder, Dennis Shepler, this excellent species has been hanging around Mile High Road. Actively picking and gleaning on telephone poles at times, it also has a fairly unique foraging behavior for a woodpecker.
It fly-catches. Yep, a woodpecker species that actually fly-catches. It was doing so this morning adding to an already wonderful time of observation. Our Acorn Woodpeckers (M. formicivorus) occasionally do this, too.
Lewis's Woodpecker is generally a Rocky Mountains regional species. The following is range map, more or less:
A fairly enigmatic species, and one nemesis species that has been hard for Heidi and myself to track down and catch-up to, the Lewis's Woodpecker is an Irruptive species in the trans-Pecos of Texas.
Irruptive species that may be abundant some years but absent, occasional, or rare all others. (Bryan, K.B. 2002)
Even with in an "Irruptive" year for the species, Lewis's Woodpecker is Rare. Rare = seldom observed (Bryan K.B. 2002)
Lewis's Woodpecker is one of only a few woodpecker species in North America to have an ALL dark back.
Yeah, there is a bit of a gray collar. Also, look up again at the first photo.
It would be nice if this individual digs in and stays the Winter. As far as my personal life, it would be nice if this birds sticks around for a few more days so Heidi can enjoy it. We all look forward to her return.
Now, what about that Black-legged Kittiwake (Rissa tridactyla), first reported by Mark Lockwood, at Balmorhea Lake? I'll wait a short while, if it is even still around..
Here's to a great Winter in Big Bend!
Bryan, K.B. Birds of the Trans-Pecos a field checklist, Natural Resources Program, Texas Parks and Wildlife Dept., Austin, TX. 2002