Saturday, 30 December 2017

Texas 2017 Summary

Being grounded gives me the perfect opportunity to complete my Texas lucky people!? Excuse any errors but I'm still drugged up, as the new knee is stinging a bit!! Anyway...

I tried to make it a more relaxed trip this time. I still haven't decided if I succeeded.

I also tried to make it a mixture of target birding and quality time spent at favourite getting Louise plenty of sunshine! I definitely achieved the latter. The detail can obviously be found in the daily reports. I've created a file that can be found under "labels".

It was great to start at Lorna's and re-acquaint ourselves, not forgetting Clyde of course!

Way out West I finally notched my ABA RED CROSSBILL and also added Cassin's Finch for Texas. The time spent with a Golden Eagle was also VERY special, another State addition. Other Texas Western additions were Sagebrush Sparrow and Sage Thrasher both found amongst the incredible sagebrush habitat of a salt lake around Dell City. The only disappointment being our failure to access McKittrick Canyon due to fall colour popularity. A successful visit whilst enjoying superb weather and stunning scenery.

The RGV is always great Birding. Our two days on SPI was also a great decision...even though I say so myself!  Love to spend some time here in April/May...2019? I did get lucky when a reachable Long-tailed Duck dropped in at Riviera Beach, a couple of hours north of Mission. A bonus Texas tick. Our base in Mission was perfect for exploring the numerous quality sites that were in easy reach. Thanks Lorna. Seeing all three Kingfishers well at Edinburgh was definitely time well spent. I tried hard (maybe too hard) for Audubon's Oriole at various sites without success BUT the times spent at the sites was still wonderful.

Our final destination was our beloved Galveston. The self-found TAMAULPAS CROW was the obvious highlight...for rarity if not plumage! I really enjoyed my visit to Cattail Marsh and the Galveston/Bolivar area is simply Dreamlando! Very disappointed with my Woodpecker/Nuthatch haul in the Pineywoods. That's birding! You've heard about my double American Woodcock dip. I guess I didn't really dip, as I never made it!?

The cold weather never arrived. Great news for Louise, slightly disappointing for me as the Longspurs stayed north.

Unfortunately a few ticks arrived after my departure. That will always be the case. I probably would have connected with most of these if I'd have kept the same dates as last year!

Tundra Swan
Trumpeter Swan
Golden-crowned Sparrow
Elegant Tern
Violet-crowned Hummingbird
Northern Wheatear

5,235 miles covered

My list - additions in capitals
Black-bellied Whistling-duck (Dendrocygna autumnalis)
Snow Goose (Anser caerulescens)
Ross's Goose (Anser rossii)
Gadwall (Anas strepera)
American Wigeon (Anas americana)
Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)
Mexican Duck (Anas platyrhynchos diazi)
Mottled Duck (Anas fulvigula [platyrhynchos])
Blue-winged Teal (Anas discors)
Cinnamon Teal (Anas cyanoptera)
Northern Shoveler (Anas clypeata)
Northern Pintail (Anas acuta)
Green-winged Teal (Anas crecca carolinensis)
Canvasback (Aythya valisineria)
Redhead (Aythya americana)
Ring-necked Duck (Aythya collaris)
Greater Scaup (Aythya marila)
Lesser Scaup (Aythya affinis)
Bufflehead (Bucephala albeola)
Red-breasted Merganser (Mergus serrator)
Ruddy Duck (Oxyura jamaicensis)
Plain Chachalaca (Ortalis vetula)
Scaled Quail (Callipepla squamata)
Northern Bobwhite (Colinus virginianus)
Least Grebe (Tachybaptus dominicus)
Pied-billed Grebe (Podilymbus podiceps)
Slavonian Grebe (Podiceps auritus)
Black-necked Grebe (Podiceps nigricollis)
Western Grebe (Aechmophorus occidentalis)
Clark's Grebe (Aechmophorus clarkii)
Neotropic Cormorant (Phalacrocorax brasilianus)
Double-crested Cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus)
American White Pelican (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos)
Brown Pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis)
Reddish Egret (Egretta rufescens)
Tricolored Heron (Egretta tricolor)
Little Blue Heron (Egretta caerulea)
Black-crowned Night Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax)
Cattle Egret (Bubulcus ibis)
Snowy Egret (Egretta thula)
Great Blue_ Heron (Ardea herodias [cinerea])
Great Egret (Ardea alba)
White Ibis (Eudocimus albus)
White-faced Ibis (Plegadis chihi [falcinellus])
Roseate Spoonbill (Ajaia ajaja)
American Black Vulture (Coragyps atratus)
Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura)
White-tailed Kite (Elanus leucurus [caeruleus])
Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)
Hen Harrier (Circus cyaneus)
Sharp-shinned Hawk (Accipiter striatus)
Cooper's Hawk (Accipiter cooperii)
Harris' Hawk (Parabuteo unicinctus)
Red-shouldered Hawk (Buteo lineatus)
Swainson's Hawk (Buteo swainsoni)
White-tailed Hawk (Buteo albicaudatus)
Zone-tailed Hawk (Buteo albonotatus)
Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis)
Osprey (Pandion haliaetus)
Crested Caracara (Polyborus plancus)
American Kestrel (Falco sparverius)
Aplomado Falcon (Falco femoralis)
Prairie Falcon (Falco mexicanus)
Clapper Rail (Rallus longirostris)
Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus)
American Coot (Fulica americana)
Sandhill Crane (Grus canadensis)
Black-necked Stilt (Himantopus mexicanus [himantopus])
American Avocet (Recurvirostra americana)
Semipalmated Plover (Charadrius semipalmatus [hiaticula])
Killdeer (Charadrius vociferus)
Grey Plover (Pluvialis squatarola)
Sanderling (Calidris alba)
Western Sandpiper (Calidris mauri)
Least Sandpiper (Calidris minutilla)
Short-billed Dowitcher (Limnodromus griseus)
Long-billed Dowitcher (Limnodromus scolopaceus)
Marbled Godwit (Limosa fedoa)
Long-billed Curlew (Numenius americanus)
Greater Yellowlegs (Tringa melanoleuca)
Lesser Yellowlegs (Tringa flavipes)
Spotted Sandpiper (Tringa macularia [hypoleucos])
Willet (Catoptrophorus semipalmatus)
Turnstone (Arenaria interpres)
Laughing Gull (Larus atricilla)
Ring-billed Gull (Larus delawarensis)
Herring Gull (Larus argentatus argentatus)
Gull-billed Tern (Sterna nilotica)
Caspian Tern (Sterna caspia)
Sandwich Tern (Sterna sandvicensis)
Royal Tern (Sterna maxima)
Forster's Tern (Sterna forsteri)
Common Tern (Sterna hirundo)
Black Skimmer (Rynchops niger)
Rock Dove (Columba livia)
Collared Dove (Streptopelia decaocto)
Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura)
White-winged Dove (Zenaida asiatica)
Inca Dove (Columbina inca [squammata])
Common Ground-dove (Columbina passerina)
White-tipped Dove (Leptotila verreauxi)
Red-crowned Parrot (Amazona viridigenalis)
Greater Roadrunner (Geococcyx californianus)
Great Horned Owl (Bubo virginianus)
Barred Owl (Strix varia)
Pauraque (Nyctidromus albicollis)
Buff-bellied Hummingbird (Amazilia yucatanensis)
Calliope Hummingbird (Stellula calliope)
Rufous Hummingbird (Selasphorus rufus)
Belted Kingfisher (Ceryle alcyon)
Ringed Kingfisher (Ceryle torquata)
Green Kingfisher (Chloroceryle americana)
Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus)
Acorn Woodpecker (Melanerpes formicivorus)
Red-bellied Woodpecker (Melanerpes carolinus)
Golden-fronted Woodpecker (Melanerpes aurifrons)
Ladder-backed Woodpecker (Picoides scalaris)
Downy Woodpecker (Picoides pubescens)
Hairy Woodpecker (Picoides villosus)
Eastern Phoebe (Sayornis phoebe)
Say's Phoebe (Sayornis saya)
Black Phoebe (Sayornis nigricans)
Vermilion Flycatcher (Pyrocephalus rubinus)
Tropical Kingbird (Tyrannus melancholicus)
Couch's Kingbird (Tyrannus couchii)
Scissor-tailed Flycatcher (Tyrannus forficatus)
Eastern Kingbird (Tyrannus tyrannus)
Great Kiskadee (Pitangus sulphuratus)
Swallow (Hirundo rustica)
Buff-bellied Pipit (Anthus rubescens [spinoletta])
Phainopepla (Phainopepla nitens)
Cedar Waxwing (Bombycilla cedrorum)
Sedge_ Wren (Cistothorus platensis)
Carolina Wren (Thryothorus ludovicianus)
Wren (Troglodytes troglodytes)
House Wren (Troglodytes aedon)
Grey Catbird (Dumetella carolinensis)
Northern Mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos)
Curve-billed Thrasher (Toxostoma curvirostre)
Western Bluebird (Sialia mexicana)
Hermit Thrush (Catharus guttatus)
Clay-coloured Robin (Turdus grayi)
American Robin (Turdus migratorius)
Ruby-crowned Kinglet (Regulus calendula)
Golden-crowned Kinglet (Regulus satrapa)
Verdin (Auriparus flaviceps)
Blue-grey Gnatcatcher (Polioptila caerulea)
Black-crested Titmouse (Parus atricristatus [bicolor])
Loggerhead Shrike (Lanius ludovicianus)
Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata)
Steller's Jay (Cyanocitta stelleri)
Woodhouses's Scrub-jay (Aphelocoma woodhouseii)
Green Jay (Cyanocorax yncas)
American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos)
Tamaulipas Crow
Chihuahuan Raven (Corvus cryptoleucus)
Common Raven (Corvus corax)
Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)
House Sparrow (Passer domesticus)
White-eyed Vireo (Vireo griseus)
Pine Siskin (Carduelis pinus)
American Goldfinch (Carduelis tristis)
House Finch (Carpodacus mexicanus)
Orange-crowned Warbler (Vermivora celata)
Tropical Parula (Parula pitiayumi [americana])
Yellow-rumped Warbler (Dendroica coronate)
Spotted Towhee (Pipilo maculatus [erythrophthalmus])
Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia)
White-crowned Sparrow (Zonotrichia leucophrys)
White-throated Sparrow (Zonotrichia albicollis)
Lincoln's Sparrow (Melospiza lincolnii)
Swamp Sparrow (Melospiza georgiana)
Savannah Sparrow
Seaside Sparrow (Ammodramus maritimus)
Nelson's Sharp-tailed Sparrow
Grasshopper Sparrow (Ammodramus savannarum)
Chipping Sparrow (Spizella passerina)
Clay-colored Sparrow (Spizella pallida)
Brewer's Sparrow (Spizella breweri)
Field Sparrow (Spizella pusilla)
Vesper Sparrow (Pooecetes gramineus)
Black-throated Sparrow (Amphispiza bilineata)
Rufous-crowned Sparrow (Aimophila ruficeps)
Olive Sparrow (Arremonops rufivirgatus)
White-collared Seedeater (Sporophila torqueola)
Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis)
Blue Grosbeak (Guiraca caerulea)
Indigo Bunting (Passerina cyanea)
Altamira Oriole (Icterus gularis)
Brown-headed Cowbird (Molothrus ater)
Yellow-headed Blackbird
Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus)
Eastern Meadowlark (Sturnella magna)
Western Meadowlark (Sturnella neglecta)
Great-tailed Grackle (Quiscalus mexicanus)
Common Grackle (Quiscalus quiscula)
Brewer's Blackbird (Euphagus cyanocephalus)
Bronzed Cowbird (Molothrus aeneus)

Trip total 201
Texas List 469

I hope to return...soon!

Monday, 25 December 2017

Merry Christmas

Settled in back home now, dealing with indigestion...and a few mobility issues.

I hope to post my Texas summary before the year is out.

Hope you had a lovely day...

Friday, 22 December 2017

2017 - ebbing away

As I lie here at 2.30am in my hospital bed regretting having had a nap this morning, I thought I'd share a few thoughts!

Reading Birdy stuff on-line I get a distinct impression of disappointment amongst the community.

A grim Autumn migration, a series of escapes ("no birds kept in captivity anymore!!!"), far to many "bird shit ID's", hoaxes and errors.

On a personal note I added 2 stonking birds to my British list... AMERICAN REDSTART and AMUR FALCON ( which has to be one of my finest twitching moments).

Diminishing returns bites hard as you age BUT enjoyment can still be had if you tailor things to your requirements. I'm still getting fine adjustments to my plan!

Numbers/targets are fine BUT appreciation and conservation are far more important. There are a lot of people doing fine work out there.

Changing deep seated "traditional" practices is VERY difficult BUT change can be had... with perseverance...and bravery!

Hope HAS to spring eternal. It's very hard sometimes when you read about killing of Birds, Badgers and Foxes, litter and pollution, you just feel so helpless. Donations are one way of helping...CABS are doing a marvelous job as is Chris Packham.

As I move into 2018 I will endeavour to remain positive, enjoy and appreciate the avifauna and find new ways to maximize my enjoyment of our wonderful pastime. Hope you will as well...if you haven't already!

Tuesday, 19 December 2017

White Wonders

A SNOWY OWL in Cornwall and a GYR in Co Durham.

A pair definitely worth travelling to view. Two of my pals have a special interest. Phil is residing in Cornwall ...for the moment! He spent the whole day searching from dawn today. Trevor's keeping his powder dry regarding the "ermine executioner" (knew I'd get Richard Millington's quote in one day).

I wish them both the very best of luck.

I travel down to London tomorrow in preparation for my early Christmas present on Thursday. Quite a few folk have kindly informed me how painful this operation can be!! Things you do to get waited on at Christmas...

Sunday, 17 December 2017

Thrush Rush

A delayed post due to HAWK OWL nonsense last night!!!


Finding birds can be difficult (to say the least) at this time of year. There are quality sightings to be had though...with perseverance!

My pal Gavin had a male Hen Harrier at Skeffling morning...nice one pal! Amongst other personal targets are Glaucous and Iceland Gulls. However, my time is nearly up, so I played safe and spent some quality time with the magnificent flock of winter thrushes at Stone Creek.

I made two visits. The first at dawn were I was greeted with three Barn Owls! A scattering of Curlew, Lapwing and Golden Plover was nice. I couldn't locate any thrushes for a while so I headed north from the Humber. Then...there they were. It's VERY difficult to be accurate numbers wise as they were scattered far and wide in various swirling flocks. The Fieldfares are far more apparent as the Redwings tend to stay hidden in the hedges. BOTH species are very sensitive...I can vouch for that!

No dashing around...just seeing what came my way...nice!

Very difficult to approach...even in the car. A grand sight though.

Over lunch I nearly grabbed a decent pic of a Buzzard that was hunting the verge near Patrington...

Plenty of Plovers still around also.

Back down to SC.

Saturday afternoon means I settled in and again waited...and waited. Many birds...all distant...

I was confident my turn would come...eventually.


Around 3.30 a large mixed group descended on the bushes next to me. Bingo...

A fitting last session spent with two wonderful species before my enforced lay off...

Friday, 15 December 2017

Frozen out

The LDV proved hard work today as a hard freeze had disrupted the wildfowl somewhat! A good hours walk up the Derwent from Bubwith produced very little. I did see an unusual sight though, fast disappearing north in the early morning light...

Black Swan

I bumped into it again further up the river. It seemed quite at home with a family group of Mutes...

I spent the rest of the morning trying (and failing) to locate the Whooper herd. I did locate some Dunlin (30) and Ruff (4) at Ellerton.

After lunch I had an hour at NDC. There were some Whoopers present (18) but they were very distant...

Around 2 I decided to head back to beat the Friday madness in Hull.

I detoured through Stone Creek and found an impressive flock of Fieldfares around 3.30. It was virtually dark by now but I feel it's worth posting a few images to illustrate the spectacle...

Great to see such a large gathering...easily a thousand birds present...

Shouldn't be taken for granted...

Thursday, 14 December 2017


Been busy this week.

Only 3 days leisure left now before my early Christmas present...a new knee. I intend to make the most of it. Time for a full day in the Valley.

Sunday, 10 December 2017

Status Quo

Think I've finally re-adjusted after the trip!?

A couple of days reducing the Holiday debt then down to Nottingham last night to see the legendary Dennis Locorriere...THE voice of Dr Hook.

Obviously my era BUT the guy has transcended the generations. He has a unique voice and at 68 he's still belting it out. All songs sung correctly...just like the records. A fantastic 2 hours!!! Sylvia's Mother was one of the first records I ever bought. "We shared the night together". Nostalgia over.

Over to the LDV on Thursday to try for the reported Glossy Ibis (a potential York tick). I arrived at Bank Island at dawn in the pouring rain...and waited. No sign by 9.30. I had a few things to do in Selby before spending 2 hours at NDC. Water levels are very high in the Valley but not quite high enough to fill the Carrs. I did see a few Whoopers flying down the river though. Back to Bank Island for 2.30. Gave it till dusk but still no sign. I tried.

Thursday, 7 December 2017

Texas 17 - Day 22

Negotiated an 11am departure from Galveston after a final coffee and chocolates at La King's at 10.30. So, up at 5 and back on the Ferry to arrive on the Bolivar at dawn. Thankfully no fog today.

My main focus in the 90 minutes I had was to try again for American Oystercatcher. It's a local but elusive species. Alas, it proved too elusive for me once again (I did have great views last year).

I did have a wonderful walk out onto the famous Bolivar Flats Sanctuary. Thankfully it's another area of habitat safeguarded for future generations.

I enjoyed the sunrise...I don't say that very often!

Again...plenty of birds here...

Avocets of the American kind...

A distant Reddish Egret...

More Nelson's Sparrows...

Must be a good year!
A bathing Long-billed Curlew...

My time was up. I couldn't find any Snowy or Piping Plovers which was both surprising, disappointing...and maybe slightly embarrassing. I blame it on my time window...or exhaustion!

My last trip tick came on the return Ferry crossing in the form of a Red-breasted Merganser...

For the record
That's it then. Hope you found something of interest. I'll do a numbers post and a summary ASAP.

Tuned out!

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Texas 17 - Day 21

Last full needed a belter!

It was time for a trip on the iconic Galveston Ferry...

Always a treat...and it's free!

I'd got the good lady out of bed at 5.30am so I'd better give her a great day as well! She'd gone back to sleep at this point. Nothing unusual was seen on the crossing. As we docked the fog rolled in!!! More "luck"!

Never mind. First stop was going to be Frenchtown Road were fortunately you can usually get close views of the birds present. Visibility was sufficient to make it worthwhile to linger.

A Willet appeared out of the gloom. Will one ever make it across the "pond"?

More Ring-billed Gulls...

Then the little guys started to appear. From being disappointed with the poor weather this turned out to be an excellent session with more best ever views...of Nelson's Sparrow...

Great to get such prolonged, close views of this typically elusive Ammodramus Sparrow...

FR is also famous for Rails. Last year I saw both Clapper and Sora, this year I managed a brief running Clapper...

It was Foggy!
A lovely Marbled Godwit dropped in...

Half-way up the peninsular is Rollover Pass...a channel that cuts right through and is a magnet for feeding and resting birds...

A Royal Tern drifts over the Skimmers, Terns and Gulls
A wonderful vista...

We then turned north and headed through the fabled High Island. Probably THE most famous migrant hotspot in the US. No lingering today but a record shot just HAD to be taken...

We headed through Beaumont to the Edgewater Picnic Area

Again in search of Woodpeckers but again I drew a blank. I had seen Red-headed here last year. Pileated may be the largest but it's not the easiest to see! I did sneak a brief view of a silent Hermit Thrush...

There was some amazing habitat...

Looks good for IVORY-BILLED!!!

I was determined not to spend too much time in the car. So I scrubbed a site and decided to spend the rest of the day at Cattail Marsh just west of Beaumont. I'd been here many moons ago but the site has been developed and thankfully secured for the future.

We spent a wonderful last three hours of daylight here. Slightly better than yesterday.

I finally found a superb male Cinnamon Teal amongst the thousands of ducks present, far further North than anticipated...

with females I do believe
Winter plumaged Pied-billed Grebe...

Black-necked Stilt...

Blue-winged Teal...

White-faced Ibis...

American Avocet...

Plenty of birds today!

We'd had a great chat with a retired local couple who visited the Marsh regularly. Interesting how they said we'd visited at the best time of year...both for Birds...and weather. They said they'd lived here all their lives but "you don't want to be here in summer"! Hurricane territory.

I'd seen a record of Bald Eagle on eBird. I asked them f they'd seen one lately. They said they hadn't but they pointed out a nest at the far end (and I mean far end) of the reserve...

See it?
He also said there were some diving ducks in the deeper water at that end. I was tempted and I still had an hours light. No further species of Duck were seen unfortunately but I needed the exercise!

Here's the corny but. Strange but true!

It was time to head back to Louse and the couple as the sun was sinking fast. I had a last look at the nest and thought..."Be nice if the eagle flew in now"...IT DID!!!

Told you it was corny! I set the scope up and tried for a last minute record shot...

A VERY satisfying day.

Going home tomorrow. I wonder if I can sneak a last sesh early doors?

Stay tuned...