Thursday, January 31, 2013

Winter Hummingbirds

Last Saturday (Jan. 28)  Golden Triangle Audubon Society had a "mini field trip" to see winter hummingbirds at houses that are hosting them locally. We started at John and Jana Wittle's home in Nederland, where we saw Rufous, Broad-tailed, Ruby-throated, Black-chinned, and Buff-bellied Hummingbirds. From there we drove to Harlan Stewart's house, where we got to see another Buff-bellied and 3 more Rufous. Steve Kuritz's place in Beaumont produced 3-4 more Rufous. The final stop was at my home near Lumberton, where we had 2 more Rufous and an unidentified Archilchus sp. Total hummingbird tally for the day was 18-21 individuals of 5 species. Not bad!!! And along the way we also saw a few other goodies, such as Merlin, Red-headed Woodpecker, Red-breasted Nuthatch, and Pine Siskin. Here's a photo of one of our wintering Rufous Hummingbirds, taken yesterday from the kitchen window.
On January 21 I was off work, and visited the Roy E. Larsen Sandyland Sanctuary near Kountz. I was hoping for Henslow's Sparrow, but once again, no such luck. Thought I might also have a chance at Red Crossbill, but didn't get any of those either. Was surprised to find a Grasshopper Sparrow there - seemed a bit out-of-place in the pine savanna. Also scared up a few White-tailed Deer, including two bucks with magnificent racks of antlers. Brown-headed Nuthatches are common in the woods there, and a few came down from the treetops for a closer look at me, like this inquisitive little fellow.
Finally, here's a photo of one of the many Pine Siskins that have been hanging around our feeders lately.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Broad-tailed Hummingbird!

This morning I was taking flower pictures along our driveway - one of our azaleas has started to bloom a couple of months earlier than usual. It was drizzling and humid and about 70 degrees, which is more or less typical January weather in Southeast Texas. Heard a Red-breasted Nuthatch calling somewhere in a neighbor's yard. That's a bird we don't get here most winters. Went back into the house, and looking out the kitchen window I noticed a bird perched at one of our hummingbird feeders.  Turned out to be a Broad-tailed Hummingbird. Yee-haw!!!  In ten years of living here I've only had Broad-tailed once before (this month is the ten year anniversary of my move from California to Texas). Here are a couple of pictures of what is so far my best yard bird of 2013:

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Happy New Year!

So the world didn't end in 2012.  Disappointed...again.  Ended the year with 402 species.  It's been a long time since I had a year list that topped 400. Didn't really spend much time birding, but a couple of trips to California and a few stops in Arizona helped raise the total.

It was an odd year.  Didn't get Great Horned Owl until December 30th.  Missed some "easy" birds like  American Bittern, Kentucky Warbler, and Lark Sparrow. Got some "hard" birds, like Yellow Rail, Swainson's Warbler, and Smith's Longspur.  No pelagics, unless you count Pigeon Guillemots seen from shore. The only screech-owl on my year list is Whiskered.  Heard but unseen birds included Elegant Trogon, Pacific-slope Flycatcher, and Canyon Wren (the latter heard in three states!).

In June, on our way to California, we stopped in Mesa to visit friends of Michelle.  Water Ranch in Gilbert wasn't far from where we were staying, so I went there one morning to look for desert riparian birds.  Near the parking lot I saw a few Peach-faced Lovebirds. Didn't take much notice of them, since they fell into the category of uncountable exotics.  Figured they must be recent escapees.  A few months later I got a surprise when I received the November issue of Birding, and learned that Peach-faced Lovebird had been renamed Rosy-faced Lovebird, and had just been added to the ABA checklist.  The basis for its addition to the checklist was an increasing Arizona population centered in Phoenix and Mesa - a population that until then I didn't even know existed.  And on the cover of the magazine was a photo of a pair of Rosy-faced Lovebirds - a photo taken at Water Ranch in Gilbert, of all places.

Rained all last night, right through the fireworks, and hasn't stopped yet. Front lawn is flooded.  First bird of 2013 was a Carolina Chickadee that Lucy and I saw at our feeders this morning.  Then there was a Carolina Wren in our front yard. Our wintering Rufous Hummingbird made #3.  And so it begins...