Saturday, May 31, 2014

Glass Mountains after dark

Nope, no moose here. But there are elk, and they are apparently introduced. Readers, meet elk:

This individual was just north of the Brewster/Pecos line, cooperating except for sad nocturnal camera-phone autofocus issues. But such is life. We'll take our first elk for the blog however we can!

Elk in the Glass Mountains of Pecos Co. 29 May 2014
At least two individuals cooperated for close views the night of the 29th, thankfully no near misses as sometimes is the case - drive safe out there!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Phrynosoma, say it with me...

Horned lizards are declining as a whole throughout Texas for a variety of reasons (fire ants, grassy lawns, urban sprawl, non-native predators, etc.) but we're fortunate to still have a holdout for Texas Horned Lizards in Marathon... and occasionally, if you're lucky, this little fellow: the Round-tailed Horned Lizard, Phrynosoma modestum. I am starting to think that our neighbors, Klem and Tom, have an affinity for rocks - they sent us some lovely images of a pebble-in-disguise toad lubber earlier this year - and now they've beautifully captured the essence of a remarkably lumpy skipping stone.

Round-tailed Horned Lizard (Phrynosoma modestum) photo by Tom Lehr, Marathon/Brewster Co., TX 25 May 2014
To learn more about these cryptic neighbors of ours (the lizards, not the humans!) the herps of Texas site covers the basics: click here for their round-tailed horned lizard species account.

Round-tailed Horned Lizard (Phrynosoma modestum) photo by Tom Lehr, Marathon/Brewster Co., TX 25 May 2014

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Pipevine at Post Park

Post Road and Post Park were quite birdy (hat-tip to Bill Sain for another excellent adventure), but the highlight was simply being outside on a fantastic day. Admittedly, I did sigh that there were no leps around and a Queen, Pipevine Swallowtail, and a mystery skipper decided to cooperate. Not that any of them are earth shattering, but it seems to have been a quiet spring for butterflies, perhaps due to lack of moisture.

Pipevine Swallowtail, Battus philenor. Post Park, Marathon/Brewster Co, TX. 27 May 2014.

Bird list for Post Road here and bird list for Post Park here.

Monday, May 26, 2014

26 May 2014 SW Ponds / Private

What a difference a day or two makes! We had lower oriole numbers and diversity, higher phalarope numbers, MUCH higher peep numbers and generally similar flycatcher numbers.

White-faced Ibis primary flight feather.
Other than a probable Zone-tailed Hawk on the way to the ponds (FOS ZTHA being seen yesterday), and a White-faced Ibis primary on the berm (none seen since the 3rd, likely due to lack of observers), the eBird list pretty much says it all...

31 Species:

10 Mallard (Mexican) Anas platyrhynchos diazi

2 Blue-winged Teal Anas discors

3 Green-winged Teal Anas crecca

6 Ruddy Duck Oxyura jamaicensis - Accurate count

4 Scaled Quail Callipepla squamata

2 Turkey Vulture Cathartes aura

3 Red-tailed Hawk Buteo jamaicensis

6 Killdeer Charadrius vociferus

2 Spotted Sandpiper Actitis macularius

1 Stilt Sandpiper Calidris himantopus - Pronounced white eyebrow. Taller, longer-necked than neighboring Western SPs. Drooping bill longer than width of head. Tail reminiscent of yellowlegs spp.

5 White-rumped Sandpiper Calidris fuscicollis - In flight, U-shaped broad white rump patch. Comparable in size to nearby Stilt and Western SP. Slightly larger than nearby Spotted SP.

1 Western Sandpiper Calidris mauri - Smaller peep compared to nearby Stilt SP.Clean white underneath w/o connecting collar. Upperside tail whitish with dark middle stripe (inner retrices) above when in flight. Dark legs.

5 Wilson's Phalarope Phalaropus tricolor

3 White-winged Dove Zenaida asiatica

1 Mourning Dove Zenaida macroura
Year + old box turtle shell, sun bleaching.

1 Common Nighthawk Chordeiles minor

1 Say's Phoebe Sayornis saya

2 Ash-throated Flycatcher Myiarchus cinerascens

2 Cassin's Kingbird Tyrannus vociferans

4 Western Kingbird Tyrannus verticalis

3 Scissor-tailed Flycatcher Tyrannus forficatus

4 Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica

2 Cave Swallow Petrochelidon fulva

1 Cactus Wren Campylorhynchus brunneicapillus

1 Northern Mockingbird Mimus polyglottos

3 Lark Sparrow Chondestes grammacus

5 Black-throated Sparrow Amphispiza bilineata

2 Pyrrhuloxia Cardinalis sinuatus

3 Brown-headed Cowbird Molothrus ater

1 Orchard Oriole Icterus spurius

3 Bullock's Oriole Icterus bullockii

The Glass Mountains from the south, as seen from the ponds.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

24 May 2014 SW Ponds / Private

From my Texbirds post:

Better late than never -- yesterday morning's pre-work jaunt to the ponds (private property) with Dale Ohl, Bill Sain, and Julie Oesper yielded an underwhelming variety of waterfowl but an excellent visit overall. I guess the summer waterfowl doldrums are expected by now, but I hadn't anticipated such good oriole diversity: multiple Scott's, Bullocks, and Orchard, and a stray Hooded; last spring one male Hooded stuck around Post Park, but the habitat there is far, far better than at the ponds! One stray Wilson's Phalarope was nice, along with a late, unspotted Spotted Sandpiper.

Otherwise, it was the usual suspects - Lark Sparrow, Curve-billed Thrasher, Vermilion Flycatcher, Yellow-headed Blackbird, Cassin's and Western Kingbirds, Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, Scaled Quail, itty-bitty Killdeerlings, and lots of ruckus from Killdeer parents.

Good birds, good company, what more can you ask for!

There's a pond over there somewhere... Dale, Bill, and Julie's shadow.
6 Mallard (Mexican) Anas platyrhynchos diazi
4 Blue-winged Teal Anas discors
3 Ruddy Duck Oxyura jamaicensis
2 Scaled Quail Callipepla squamata
5 Turkey Vulture Cathartes aura
4 Red-tailed Hawk Buteo jamaicensis
9 Killdeer Charadrius vociferus
1 Spotted Sandpiper Actitis macularius
1 Wilson's Phalarope Phalaropus tricolor
8 White-winged Dove Zenaida asiatica
2 Mourning Dove Zenaida macroura
1 hummingbird sp. Trochilidae sp. - likely BCHU
1 Say's Phoebe Sayornis saya
2 Vermilion Flycatcher Pyrocephalus rubinus
2 Ash-throated Flycatcher Myiarchus cinerascens
2 Cassin's Kingbird Tyrannus vociferans
2 Western Kingbird Tyrannus verticalis
2 Scissor-tailed Flycatcher Tyrannus forficatus
1 Bell's Vireo Vireo bellii - heard only by Dale
1 Bank Swallow Riparia riparia
2 Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica
7 Cave Swallow Petrochelidon fulva
1 Curve-billed Thrasher Toxostoma curvirostre
1 Northern Mockingbird Mimus polyglottos
5 Lark Sparrow Chondestes grammacus
1 Yellow-headed Blackbird Xanthocephalus xanthocephalus
3 Great-tailed Grackle Quiscalus mexicanus
1 Bronzed Cowbird Molothrus aeneus
2 Orchard Oriole Icterus spurius
1 Hooded Oriole Icterus cucullatus
3 Bullock's Oriole Icterus bullockii
2 Scott's Oriole Icterus parisorum

* post is backdated for the date of observations, not date of Texbirds post nor compiling of blog post!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Barfly, a weekend update

Saturday night at the Famous Burro: one of the owners, Scott, brought out a very fresh Mourning Cloak that had been in the building for two days. It loitered for about an hour and then reluctantly stepped over to the [Mexican Olive?] tree when prompted. 

Of course, the following day, a text came that it - or another Mourning Cloak - was back inside! Photos by Tiffany Harelik. 

Not two hours earlier, instead of the wildlife being brought to me, I was out grabbing it. This Mourning Dove was picked up at the ponds, unable to escape. Wings, feet, and tail were fine. Eyes bright. Flappy but not going very far... turns out crop was ruptured and there may have been keel damage - it was pretty far from the power line and any barbed wire, but it wasn't far enough from he power line to definitively rule out the possibility of strike. Rehabber updates will be posted as available. (Photo by Steve Collins)

I won't spoil the news, but The Colima Death Experiment may have done an excellent job with their Brewster County Big Day as part of the Great Texas Birding Classic! Mad props to Cameron Carver, Steve Collins, Ryan Shaw and Ross Rickett!

Cameron, Steve, Ryan, and Ross, two hours before Saturday's madness officially began.

Posting from a small gadget - hope the format isn't too messed up!

Edit: Check out The Painted Bunny for Big Day details!

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Black Bear Adventures

Recently there's been a video circulation of "rock climbing bears" from Big Bend National Park... and it's amazing! Mad skills, I think the kids would call it...

Black bears at Santa Elena Canyon, video by Stephanie Latimer: