Thursday, April 14, 2011

Eagle Optics Southmost Sitters in the BIG SIT April 10, 2011

Ten birders - most of us wildlife professionals from the area - participated in the Great Texas Birding Classic Big Sit 2011, racking up 106 species on a very windy day. The total is even more remarkable if you scan down the list - it's nearly peak migration in south Texas, but very few migrants were detected. A (greatly appreciated) big miss is (not) found at the end of this list - where is the lowly House Sparrow?Even introduced birds count as one in the quest to see as many species as possible in a 24 hour day. Birds must be seen or heard from within a 17 foot diameter circle. But not one House Sparrow was seen or heard by this crack team. The Lennox Foundation Southmost Preserve is located east of Brownsville and south of the border fence. This area of high species diversity is a working orchard and farm with rich resacas and native brush and a distant view of the Rio Grande corridor. The property is not open to the public, but I like to conduct our Big Sit here to call attention to all the wonderful areas that are south of the fence - and as the Team Captain, I can make that decision!

Here's another view of the sunrise squad (below). We break our day into shifts so we aren't tripping over each other, and so it stays fun! I lead the morning shift, seen here with the daylight crew (Jennifer played vampire and was headed out for a work trip before sunrise). Special thanks to the site manager and TNC for access, and to Eagle Optics for the sponsorship which allowed us to compete. Here's the afternoon shift, with Team Leader Martin Hagne. I like the way the guys outlined the circle with coolers. Hydration is important in the afternoon heat - though I did hear rumors of Indio! At least Jose is awake (below)- and Roy is checking on his ID of the wiley John Yochum, photographer who took these great pictures. Here's our list - 106 species, a couple over par for us and excellent for the weather.

Black-bellied Whistling-Duck, Fulvous Whistling-Duck, Mottled Duck, Blue-winged Teal, Northern Shoveler, Ring-necked Duck, Ruddy Duck, Plain Chachalaca, Northern Bobwhite, Least Grebe, Pied-billed Grebe, Neotropic Cormorant, Double-crested Cormorant, Anhinga, American White Pelican, Least Bittern, Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, Snowy Egret, Little Blue Heron, Tricolored Heron, Green Heron, Black-crowned Night-Heron, Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, White Ibis, White-faced Ibis, Roseate Spoonbill, Black Vulture, Turkey Vulture, Osprey, White-tailed Kite, Sharp-shinned Hawk, Cooper's Hawk, Gray Hawk, Merlin,

Sora, Purple Gallinule, Common Moorhen, American Coot, American Golden-Plover, Killdeer, Black-necked Stilt, Solitary Sandpiper, Lesser Yellowlegs, Long-billed Curlew, Least Sandpiper, Stilt Sandpiper, Long-billed Dowitcher, Laughing Gull, Ring-billed Gull, Gull-billed Tern, Caspian Tern, Forster's Tern, Rock Pigeon, Eurasian Collared-Dove, White-winged Dove, Mourning Dove, Common Ground-Dove, White-tipped Dove, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Barn Owl, Eastern Screech-Owl, Lesser Nighthawk, Common Nighthawk, Common Pauraque, Chimney Swift, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Buff-bellied Hummingbird, Ringed Kingfisher, Green Kingfisher, Golden-fronted Woodpecker, Ladder-backed Woodpecker,

Brown-crested Flycatcher, Great Kiskadee, Couch's Kingbird, Western Kingbird, Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, White-eyed Vireo, Green Jay, Chihuahuan Raven, Northern Rough-winged Swallow, Purple Martin, Tree Swallow, Bank Swallow, Barn Swallow, Cliff Swallow, Cave Swallow, Carolina Wren, House Wren, Marsh Wren, Northern Mockingbird, Long-billed Thrasher, European Starling, American Pipit, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Common Yellowthroat, Olive Sparrow, Lark Sparrow, Lincoln's Sparrow, Northern Cardinal, Indigo Bunting, Red-winged Blackbird, Great-tailed Grackle, Brown-headed Cowbird, Orchard Oriole, Lesser Goldfinch.

A BIG Thank You! to my team mates: David Benn, JD Cortez, Javier deLeon, Martin Hagne, Huck Hutchens, Jennifer Owen-White, Roy Rodriguez, Joe Uribe, John Yochum.