Sunday, January 1, 2012
Great Start to 2012!
January 1 was the Big Day fundraiser for Wild Bird Rescue. Twelve hours of birding in Wichita and Archer counties. We ended the day with (officially) 91 species, an excellent day for this time of year, although there were plenty of fairly common birds we didn't get. Later, I went back through the notes and added a couple of birds from a separate birder (Scotty Lofland) that we didn't get incorporated earlier in the day, and instead of 91, we actually ended up with 98 species. But for all of those people who pledged per species, the 91 is the "official" count at the end of the day.
The main team consisted of me, Brady Surber (Vernon), Steve Welborn Quanah) and Katherine Smith. Steve left mid-afternoon to prepare for the Quanah Christmas Bird Count, being held today and Katherine left late afternoon. Scotty Lofland worked an area around Archer Lake, which saved us from having to stop there. The team started at Wild Bird Rescue, went to the chat trail and the barrow pit at Lake Wichita Park, followed by the Lake Wichita spillway. Then we went to Crestview cemetery, went down 79 to 1954 to 368 to Camp Stonewall Jackson. Then on to Lake Kickapoo, which was atypically barren. However, this is where we picked up some excellent sparrows and a verdin. When we left Lake Kickapoo, we took a lot of backroads in Archer and Wichita counties.
We had a good day with bluebirds. We had lots of eastern bluebirds and several mountain bluebirds. We tried for a bluebird trifecta, but couldn't get good enough views to be absolutely certain of the western bluebird (although the likelihood was high there was one or more in the flocks we saw.) We then went to the Dundee fish hatchery after searching for the tundra swans that were reported in the area a couple of weeks ago. We continued on some more county roads on the way to Lake Buffalo, which was also unusually quiet. We whipped through Lake Gordon in Iowa Park and then on to Lucy Park. Unfortunately, by the time we got to Lucy Park, it was getting dark. So we tried for owls. Coming up empty handed, we decided to try the chat trail again as there are great horned owls there we have seen many times. But again, no owls called or showed before we had to get back to Wild Bird Rescue to finish the day. However, Scotty was able to pick up a great horned owl in his area. All told, the main team drove about 140 miles.
Some of the really good birds we got: common goldeneye, Ferruginous hawk, snow goose, Say's phoebe, mountain bluebird, and verdin.
What didn't we get that we would have thought would be a slam dunk? House finch, downy woodpecker, tufted titmouse, Carolina chickadee would be expected. Other reasonable possibilities would be Inca dove, Cooper's hawk, blue-winged teal, white-throated sparrow, brown creeper, red-crested nuthatch, brown thrasher and Carolina wren. No luck with those either.
In addition to the birds, we had a great look at a large beaver, a beautiful white-tailed buck and heard some coyotes.
Here's our list for the day (hopefully, I won't leave any out): Canada goose, cackling goose, snow goose, white-fronted goose, mallard, northern shoveler, green-winged teal, common goldeneye, American wigeon, ruddy duck, ring-necked duck, gadwall, pintail, bufflehead, lesser scaup, wood duck, canvasback, redhead, hooded merganser, American coot, pied-billed grebe, eared grebe, double-crested cormorant, neotropic cormorant, white pelican, great blue heron, sandhill crane, greater yellowlegs, lesser yellowlegs, killdeer, Wilson's snipe, least sandpiper, spotted sandpiper, ring-billed gull, Herring gull, Bonaparte's gull, belted kingfisher, wild turkey, great horned owl, sharp-shinned hawk, northern harrier, American kestrel, Ferruginous hawk, red-tailed hawk, rock pigeon, Eurasian collared dove, mourning dove, white-winged dove, Northern flicker, red-bellied woodpecker, golden-fronted woodpecker, ladder-backed woodpecker, marsh wren, Bewick's wren, winter wren, northern mockingbird, northern cardinal, blue jay, eastern phoebe, Say's phoebe, robin, ruby-crowned kinglet, eastern bluebird, mountain bluebird, cedar waxwing, Chihuahuan raven, American Crow, red-winged blackbird, European starling, Brewer's blackbird, brown-headed cowbird, great-tailed grackle, common grackle, eastern meadowlark, yellow-rumped warbler, orange-crowed warbler, yellow warbler, common yellowthroat, loggerhead shrike, roadrunner, American pipit, Harris's sparrow, lark bunting, white-crowned sparrow, song sparrow, savannah sparrow, swamp sparrow, chipping sparrow, fox sparrow, rufous-crowned sparrow, Lincoln's sparrow, field sparrow, vesper sparrow, verdin, junco, spotted towhee, American goldfinch, house sparrow.
Overall, a great day of birding that helped raise some much-needed funds for Wild Bird Rescue. I don't know exactly how much money was raised, but every dollar helps return our wild birds to the wild for our enjoyment and provide educational programs about birds to the community. Since this was a first event, we learned some things for next time. Many thanks to all of the birders who took part and to the people who donated. We'll do this again.