Friday, February 18, 2011

Great Kick-off for Great Backyard Bird Count

Vacated Cliff swallow nests being used by house sparrows under Kemp overpass at the Lake Wichita spillway trail.
I decided to kick-off my Great Backyard Bird Count at the Lake Wichita Spillway as it is one of my favorite birding spots in Wichita Falls. I wasn't disappointed.
For the GBBC you count the highest number of a particular species seen at one time during the count period. You don't accumulate the counts as you do for the Christmas Count. I had a good morning. I did a 40 minute count and saw:
Canada goose 2
White pelican 39
Ring-billed gull 7
Gull species 180 (probably predominantly or entirely ring-billed, but they were spread out all over the lake, so to far away to see clearly)
Mallard 4
Blue-winged teal 25
Red head duck 1
American coot 31
Common merganser 1
Killdeer 3
Pied-billed grebe 2
Great blue heron 1
Greater yellowlegs 1
Kestrel 1
Red-tailed hawk 2
Meadowlark species (probably eastern) 16
Eropean starling 4
Red-winged blackbird 3
Robin 7
Cedar waxwing 31
Eastern phoebe 1
Song sparrow 1
House sparrow 8
I walked down to the overpass because I heard a lot of house sparrows (there were many more than the 8 indicated, but this is the number visible at one time). They were again building nests in the abandoned cliff swallow nests under the overpass. I saw them doing that last year, but don't recall seeing any active nests once the cliff swallows returned, so I will watch this year. I wonder if the cliff swallows evict them and whether the house sparrows are able to fledge young before the cliff swallows return.
My favorite sighting of the morning was the common merganser as I don't see them often, although the redhead duck was also a treat. However, I was rewarded for being out early with a nice long view of a beaver heading out.
Overall, a great start to the GBBC weekend. I hopre you'll get out and enjoy the birds during the 4-day count.
Good birding!

No comments: