Saturday, 31 December 2016


Many Bloggers and many Birders...and MANY opinions!!!
I have enough support for mine to encourage me to continue into 2017. I thank you all for sparing the time to read it and wish you a Happy and Healthy New Year...
My final Birding of 2016 included a trip to Sainsbury's at Hessle, Hull...not to shop, I hasten to add...but to view some stunning Waxwings...

A fitting image to conclude the Year

Friday, 30 December 2016

Trip to Fort Worth and the CBC

December 16th
After leaving Lorna’s we headed North towards Fort Worth and our Motel where I was to prepare for my CBC tomorrow. However, on the way up I’d have to detour (thankfully) around Austin to try for a Common Merganser ,which had conveniently been present at the Tejas Camp on the North Fork of the San Gabriel River for some time. They usually turn up in Texas "way out west" and I’d already tried at the wonderful Lake Balmorhea without any luck, so this was a second bite.
As always in Texas it took longer than anticipated to reach our destination but with the help of eBird we eventually found the site and parked up. It was another glorious afternoon so Louise set her stall out and I made my way along the scenic river towards the area the bird had been frequenting...
The info' had said around half a mile but the views of the river from the path were very limited which meant a few sorties through the undergrowth to get a decent view. I passed a couple of returning local Birders who had come to see the star bird but all they could give me was “keep going, you’ll see it”.
It was now 3.30 and the sun was sinking fast. I’d read on eBird that the female CM was associating with a white domestic (puddle) Duck! At least that should stand out. After what seemed more like a mile I spotted the lovebirds resting on a log in the middle of the river...
It’s “just” a Goosander…but its MY Texas tick (458)! It was a wonderful end to the day for both of us. We left the car park after enjoying a superb sunset and continued North. We reached the Motel in Fort Worth at 8pm. An early night was required.
December 17th
I was up at 4.45am and made my way the 8 miles to my meeting point with Mike Wease in the Albertsons car park. Trouble was things are MUCH easier to find in daylight, well at least junctions and road signs! Granted the Albertsons sign was pretty obvious when I eventually arrived at 5.25.
I introduced myself to Mike and thanked him again for inviting me. After he’d explained the first part of the day I decided to visit the gas station and stock up with junk food. I had the feeling we’d be on the move…all day! His two associates arrived slightly late and off we went to our first site to look/listen for Owls.
Our tally for this session was a heard Eastern Screech…or two.
We then drove to a private site and parked the cars inside the gate. This was the start of a 5 hour walk through the woods and surrounding fields recording ALL birds seen and/or heard. We were blessed with excellent weather. We covered some ground, a lot of it uneven and dense but it was great fun. Mike, Ted and Brent were great company and they were very sharp. It was an education to watch them "at work”. Birds of note included Pileated Woodpecker and Great Horned Owl. The upshot being that I added Golden-crowned Kinglet (459), Fox Sparrow (460) and the much prized (and mis-identified) Purple Finch (461)
We also saw some other great birds…
Cedar Waxwings...
My favourite Sparrow...Harris's...
Eastern Bluebird...
Dark-eyed Junco...
Bad weather was on the way with a strong “Norther” ripping down the continent…we could already feel it. It stayed dry but the temperature dropped like a stone and the wind picked up dramatically. This made our visit to CEMENT Creek Ponds a challenge but this was my only hope of a Longspur now. Mike had kindly visited a site where he’d seen 3 species last year on this date but we didn’t find any. Many thanks Mike.
We made our way out towards the ponds. We formed a short line across the rough ground. A few sparrows were flushed…then Mike shouted “Longspur!”. The bird called a few times and then we watched it gain height and fly off high across the main road. Mike commented how unusual this was?
It was certainly unlucky for me as this was my only sighting. The call was heard well by both of us and we had no doubt we had seen a Chestnut-collared Longspur (462). Not the view I was hoping for…but I’ll take it. Maybe a better view next year together with Lapland and McCown's!!
By the time we returned to Mike’s beast of a truck…(a Dodge Ram 5.6L) it was freezing and we were walking into a gale force wind!
Understandably, we called it a day. I said my goodbyes, thanked them again and made my way back to the Motel.
I love Birding with skilful American Birders. I like to think it improves my personal skills regarding the neararctic avifauna. I learn best by experience.
The day list for the record...

1.     Black-bellied Whistling-Duck
2.     Snow Goose
3.     Wood Duck
4.     Gadwall
5.     American Wigeon
6.     Mallard
7.     Northern Shoveler
8.     Northern Pintail
9.     Green-winged Teal
10.   Ring-necked Duck
11.   Lesser Scaup
12.   Bufflehead
13.   Hooded Merganser
14.   Ruddy Duck
15.   Wild Turkey
16.   Pied-billed Grebe
17.   Double-crested Cormorant
18.   Great Blue Heron
19.   Great Egret
20.   Cattle Egret
21.   Black Vulture
22.   Turkey Vulture
23.   Osprey
24.   Northern Harrier
25.   Sharp-shinned Hawk
26.   Cooper's Hawk
27.   Red-shouldered Hawk
28.   Red-tailed Hawk
29.   Virginia Rail
30.   Sora
31.   American Coot
32.   Sandhill Crane
33.   Killdeer
34.   Wilson's Snipe
35.   Greater Yellowlegs
36.   Bonaparte's Gull
37.   Ring-billed Gull
38.   Forster's Tern
39.   Rock Pigeon
40.   White-winged Dove (Jessica)
41.   Mourning Dove
42.   Eastern Screech-Owl
43.   Great Horned Owl
44.   Belted Kingfisher
45.   Red-bellied Woodpecker
46.   Ladder-backed Woodpecker (Jessica)
47.   Downy Woodpecker
48.   Northern Flicker
49.   Pileated Woodpecker
50.   American Kestrel
51.   Eastern Phoebe
52.   Loggerhead Shrike (Jessica)
53.   Blue Jay
54.   American Crow
55.   Horned Lark
56.   Carolina Chickadee
57.   Tufted Titmouse
58.   House Wren
59.   Marsh Wren
60.   Carolina Wren
61.   Bewick's Wren
62.   Golden-crowned Kinglet
63.   Ruby-crowned Kinglet
64.   Eastern Bluebird
65.   Hermit Thrush
66.   American Robin
67.   Brown Thrasher
68.   Northern Mockingbird
69.   European Starling
70.   American Pipit
71.   Cedar Waxwing
72.   Chestnut-collared Longspur
73.   Orange-crowned Warbler
74.   Common Yellowthroat
75.   Yellow-rumped Warbler
76.   Chipping Sparrow
77.   Field Sparrow
78.   Fox Sparrow
79.   Dark-eyed Junco
80.   White-crowned Sparrow (Jessica)
81.   Harris's Sparrow
82.   White-throated Sparrow
83.   Vesper Sparrow
84.   Savannah Sparrow
85.   Song Sparrow
86.   Lincoln's Sparrow
87.   Swamp Sparrow
88.   Spotted Towhee
89.   Northern Cardinal
90.   Red-winged Blackbird
91.   Western/Eastern Meadowlark
92.   Great-tailed Grackle
93.   Brown-headed Cowbird
94.   House Finch
95.   Purple Finch
96.   American Goldfinch