Monday, February 21, 2011

Great Backyard Bird Count Wrap-up

Intrepid group of birdwatchers from the North Texas Bird and Wildlife Club and the Rolling Plains Texas Master Naturalists taking part in the GBBC at Lake Wichita behind Wild Bird Rescue on Feb 20, 2011. (Photo by EB Hawley)

Four days of birding--does life get any better? For most of my counts I was solo, but the Rolling Plains Texas Master Naturalists decided to have a group count on Feburary 20 at Wild Bird Rescue. We counted for nearly 2 hours at that location and then we broke up, with some of us birding other locations. The day started calm and warm--probably the best weather we've had for a count at that location in years. By the end of the count however, the weather turned more seasonal with a brisk wind churning up the surface water and causing the birds to find sheltered areas.

Our count that morning was:

White pelican 42
Ring-billed gull 7
Great egret 1
Green heron 1
Great blue heron 2
American coot 9
Double-crested cormorant 29
Canada goose 300+
Mallard 4
Ring-necked duck 3
Gadwall 3
Pintail 10
Northern shoveler 2
Duck species 35 (too far across the lake to make positive ID)
Killdeer 2
Pied-billed grebe 5
Bewick's wren
Marsh wren
Cardinal 1
Blue jay 1
Mockingbird 1
Eurasian collared dove 3
White-winged dove 4
Robin 75
Red-winged blackbird 14
Great-tailed grackle 3
European starling 1
House finch 2
American goldfinch 1
House sparrow 1

After the group count, I walked down the chat trail in Lake Wichita Park and over to the barrow pit for an hour. My best sighting was right at the entrance to the trail--a ladder-backed woodpecker. The wind was keeping the birds down, but the temperature encourage the turtles to sun themselves. Although I have seen a few turtle heads popping up through the surface of the water lately, this is the first day I saw large numbers of turtles.

My count for that leg was:
Mallard 2
Bufflehead 22
Ruddy duck 3
Double-crested cormorant 9
Pied-billed grebe 1
American coot 7
Turkey vulture 1
Red-tailed hawk 1
White-winged dove 5
Eurasian collared dove 2
Mourning dove 2
Ring-billed gull 1
Ladder-backed woodpecker 1
Cardinal 3
Blue jay 1
Mockingbird 1
Robin 37
Yellow-rumped warbler 2
Cedar waxwing 15
Red-winged blackbird 1
European starling 8
Carolina wren 1
White-crowned sparrow 5
Song sparrow 3
American goldfinch 5

This morning I decided to finish my count at the Lake Wichita spillway, where I started the count. The weather was more typical for this time of year--45 degrees and a brisk wind.
The morning sun always make bird ID a challenge, but there are almost always good birds there first thing.
After checking the spillway area, I headed down the gravel area and drainage ditch where there is good cover for smaller birds. Although perhaps not as good morning as the first day, it was still a good count.
In an hour I saw:
Mallard 7
Green-winged teal 21
White pelican 67
American coot 48
Pied-billed grebe 1
Greater yellowlegs 1
Killdeer 2
Western sandpiper 8
Great blue heron 1
Ring-billed gull 3
Mourning dove 1
Red-winged blackbird 9
Great-tailed grackle 9
Eastern meadowlark 1
European starling 4
Cardinal 2
Blue jay 1
Yellow-rumped warbler 9
Eastern phoebe 1
Robin 16
Cedar waxwing 34
Dark-eyed junco 2
Field sparrow 3
Savannah sparrow 1
White-crowned sparrow 2
House sparrow 1
Overall, an enjoyable four days outside enjoying the birds.
Good birding!

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