Monday, March 30, 2009

FOS Scissor-tailed Flycatchers

Today, I had to take a run out to the Wichita Falls Vineyards and Winery in Iowa Park to make some purchases for a door prize at tomorrow's Business After Hours. At any rate, while driving down Petersen Road South, I saw three scissor-tailed flycatchers, my first of the season in Wichita County (I saw one in Parker County last week).

I also nearly squashed a roadrunner, which decided to run across the road just in front of me. Since he was fast and my brake reflects were good, he made it.

I saw several loggerhead shrike on the wires in the Iowa Park area. Although they are not a rare bird, I don't recall ever seeing 6+ within 20 minutes.

Good birding!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Nice Walk on the Chat Trail

The Chat Trail in Lake Wichita Park is a favorite with the local birders. I finally found out what the name means. The small bits of gravel on the trail is called "chat," thus the name.

Anyway, Saturday morning I did make a short stop and walked back to the tank on the chat trail. It was beginning to mist a little. Unfortunately, we did not get any rain. But I did see and hear a few birds: Cardinal, Great-tailed grackle, Mourning dove, Bewicks' wren, Bufflehead, Northern shoveler, Common Coot, Mallard, Ruddy duck, Great blue heron, Rock pigeon, Northen mockingbird, Yellow-rumped warbler, Robin, Double-crested cormorant, Dark-eyed junco, White-crowned sparrow, Eurasian collared dove, White-winged dove, and Red-winged blackbird.

Good birding!

Purple Martins Back

Although there have been reports of scouts for a few weeks, I didn't see any purple martins myself until last week, when a few pair started to take up residence at the martin house at Wild Bird Rescue.

Bob Lindsay, the Executive Director, told me there was a starling also trying to move in, but I didn't see him. Bob said the martins were harassing the starling and one martin had tangled with him enough to bring both birds to the ground. As of Saturday, I saw not evidence of any starling in the vicinity of the house--just 3 pair of martins going in and out. They are rather noisy birds--chattering constantly. There are room for a few more pair; hopefully, we'll have a full house this year.

Now I am waiting for the chimney swifts to move in.

Good birding!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

North Texas Bird and Wildlife Club Meets Tonight

The North Texas Bird and Wildlife Club meets tonight at 7PM at the NALC building on Southwest Parkway (next to Wichita Valley Nursery). I have the program and have decided to talk about pigeons. That will go over big, I'm sure.

Fortunately, I also have the snack, so I'll bribe the group with cookies.

Good birding!

Display at Midwestern State University

A couple of weeks ago, Andrea Williams from the Midwestern State University called me to set up a display for Women's History Month about my birding hobby. She must have been desperate.

Anyway, I have a lot of bird stuff, but people like pictures, so I called Terry McKee, a very good photographer who has lots of pictures of birds. Terry took some items to the library and Andrea tranferred some information I sent her into a more visually appealing format and the two set up the display. I am feeling guilty, but between the two, they did a better job than I would have done.

If the display gets anyone else interested in birding, then it will be a good thing.

Good birding!

Monday, March 16, 2009

A Warm Afternoon in Lucy Park

I decided to take a walk through Lucy Park this afternoon on the way home from work. It was very warm and late in the afternoon, so birding could have been better. However, the birding wasn't bad either. I took the circle trail with the extension into the wooded area to the back of the park along the river.

Among the birds seen and/or heard: Northern cardinal, Blue jay, Belted kingfisher, Clay-colored sparrow, Mallard duck, Canada geese, Great-tailed grackle, Rock pigeon, White-winged dove, Eurasian collared dove, Northern mockingbird, Robin, Yellow-rumped warbler, Carolina chickadee, Wood thrush, Downy woodpecker, Red-bellied woodpecker, and Dark-eyed junco.

I also saw a large snapping turtle in the river, which is still very low. Obviously the rain we had soaked into the ground instead of running off into the river, so that is a good thing. We still need more rain.

Good birding!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Birding By Car

I need a big sign that says, "Danger! Birder Driving!" I don't think I am often a hazard, but my children have said something often enough that maybe I just don't think about it. My husband almost always drives when he is in the car (it's a guy thing.)

Anyway, I was coming back to Wichita Falls from Iowa Park on Hwy 287 and saw my first roadrunner since the Christmas Bird Count, hunting in the grass. I also got good looks at two red-tailed hawks soaring over the fields near the road.

Good birding!

Birds Moving

It is spring and birds are moving. When I went to Wild Bird Rescue this morning, I saw a group of about 200 ring-billed gulls circling overhead. There is a front moving through (hopefully with some rain), and I imagine having the wind at their backs will encourage the gulls to start toward their summer home. At the feeders behind WBR were white-crowned sparrows, house sparrows, blue jays, cardinals, red-winged blackbirds, Inca doves, and Eurasian collared doves.

I did take a short walk down the chat trail to the tank in Lake Wichita Park. In about 20 minutes I saw and/or heard: Carolina wren, Carolina chickadee, cardinal, white pelican, ring-billed gull, great blue heron, ruddy duck, bufflehead, American coot, great-tailed grackle, yellow-rumped warblers, Bewick's wren, white-winged dove, Eurasian collared dove, turkey vulture, belted kingfisher, red-winged blackbird, and starlings.

Good birding!

Friday Afternoon Delight

There are some Friday afternoons when it seems no one is working. Yesterday was one of those days and finally about 3 PM, I gave up. Besides, I didn't feel much like working myself. It seems there should be some bennie to owning your own business.

Anyway, I decided to make a stop at Lucy Park on my way home. I haven't been there in a while and several of my birding friends said they haven't seen many birds in the park in the past year. I wasn't really dressed for a long walk, but decided to take a short walk down to the waterfall (which was turned off) and back--about a mile round trip. Of course, I got involved and ended up continuing on the trail beyond the park down behind the MPEC along the river. In the proper shoes I would probably have continued to Williams Park, but not yesterday.

Considering it was the middle of the afternoon, the birding wasn't all that bad.

The birds: great blue heron, yellow-rumped warbler, mallard, cardinal, blue jay, Carolina wren, belted kingfisher, pied-billed grebe, black crested tufted titmouse, mourning dove, rock pigeon, brown-headed cowbird, Carolina chickadee, dark-eyed junco, and great-tailed grackle.

Good birding!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Nice Little E-Newsletter

I received my copy of BirdWire this week and just got around to opening it. Published by Birdwatchers' Digest, it is a nice little e-newsletter with good, lay articles on a variety of topics. This month it is focused on the timely topic of nesting. If you don't subscribe, you might consider it.

Good birding!

Lake Wichita Improvement Committee

The City of Wichita Falls has a gem in Lake Wichita. At one time Lake Wichita was a center for social gatherings and was a tourist attraction, drawing Dallas urbanites to the country for a view of the water (there were no lakes in the area of DFW at that time). There was a pier with a large pavillion for dancing. This burned down many years ago and since then the lake has more or less been ignored. The lake level was lowered some years ago as a flood control mechanism so the lake is very shallow (less than 10 feet). It is an excellent place to fish and to bird.

Several years ago, a committee of citizens was put together to recommend what to do with Lake Wichita. A few things happened as a consequence of that report. Recently, as part of its Vision 2020 Plan city planning consultants again cited Lake Wichita as an undeveloped resource and recommended a best use of wildlife habitat/nature center for ecotourism. Was I ever glad to hear that!

Currently, the city Parks Board is looking at possibilities. Certainly, there is an opportunity to create more than one lake use. I am 110% behind the nature center idea and would like to see some additional recreation activities, especially in the area of Lake Wichita Park where there is some development already. A nice restaurant with a view of the lake would be welcome and Murphy's Mound would be a nice site for an outdoor amphitheater. We'll see what comes out and what the public will support in the coming months.

There are more birds in the area than most state birders are aware and some judicious habitat improvement and advertising could make Lake Wichita a draw for birders and other wildlife watchers.

Good birding!