Spotted Owls

Spotted Owls
adapted from my photo of 2008

Monday, December 27, 2010

Piedmont, South Dakota

I participated in the Piedmont, SD (nw of Rapid City) Christmas Bird Count today. A beautiful day, but some of the roads were still ice-covered from the big ice-storm last Thursday, when the count was originally scheduled. Temperature in the 40s, blue sky. Highlights for me were Townsend's Solitaire, Black-billed Magpies and Sharp-tailed Grouse, but nearly the rarest bird on the count for this area was the Northern Cardinal that our group got to see!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Tufted Flycatcher - Big Bend Nat. Park, TX

I'm too tired to give details now (1100 miles in less than 2 days), but I DID see the Tufted Flycatcher this morning!! More later I hope.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

South Dakota critters

Dave and I have gone west and east of Rapid City to see the scenery and, of course, watch birds. Highlights of yesterday's trip to Pierre, SD were Black-legged Kittiwakes, Bald and Golden Eagles, lots of pheasants and Sharp-tailed Grouse, and the lovely views all around, many of the covered with snow. Back here in the apartment the highlight at the bird feeder area was a very tame buck a few minutes ago (in addition to the numerous juncos).

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Quicky birding in Fort Worth

Zipped over to Memorial Oaks area early this morning, and was amazed to find that I was the only one parked in the parking lot, even by the time I left. Yellow-rumped Warblers ruled, followed by Carolina Chickadees and Ruby-crowned Kinglets. Nothing rare, but it was such a beautiful morning, sunny, in the 50s (it got up to about 67 today). A couple of Wood Ducks were making some ungodly sounds that for a moment I thought were made by owls. I'm not sure what they were up to and I only figured out what they were when they flew off as I approached the stream.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Texas birding

Yesterday morning was a beautiful morning in our yard, but most exciting was the presence of at least three Golden-crowned Kinglets, high in the pecan tree. I don't think I'd ever seen any in my yard. Have you ever tried to photograph kinglets? They never stop moving. I snapped away, mostly getting pictures of browning pecan leaves. I didn't think I'd caught a single one, except for a nondescript belly shot, but I was surprised to see later that I'd actually gotten one in flight.

But I couldn't stay around. I'd planned a short trip to just north of Houston (about 4 hours away) to try to get photos of Red-cockaded Woodpeckers to use to paint from. I took our dog Shar along for company and arrived at W.G. Jones State Forest at about 3:30. I heard and saw numerous Brown-headed Nuthatches and Pine Warblers, and saw a couple of Downy Woodpeckers, a gorgeous Pileated Woodpecker, and a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker before 4:45, when all of a sudden the Red-cockaded Woodpeckers arrived, squeaking busily and then quickly diving into holes in the pine trees. You had to be quick to get a picture, but I got a few somewhat fuzzy ones. I thought all the pictures were of single birds, but imagine my surprise when a couple of the pictures showed two of the sneaky birds. Although better pictures would have been nice, I decided not to stay around overnight - my home sounded much better than finding a motel, and so I returned home last night. Back to work now, after a quick trip into the car dealer to replace a tail-light that a kind policeman last night pointed out to me was dead.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Report from South Dakota and Texas

Dave has sent me pictures of deer browsing at the weather service (one of quite a few apparently is shown in the picture). Turkeys cross his lawn periodicially (no picture yet), and Dark-eyed Juncos have started eating at the seed that I forced him to put out on the ground. These I believe are the pink-sided ones; I had seen white-winged ones when I was there. Meanwhile, I went out southwest of Fort Worth this morning and got my first Pine Siskins and Golden-crowned Kinglets of the fall (no pictures of them).

Friday, November 12, 2010

It's looking more like winter every day

I finally let myself go birding today, out to Lake Benbrook in southwestern Tarrant Co. (TX)and found 54 species in just under 3 hours. Sparrows were plentiful (Harris's, White-crowned, Song, Vesper, Savannah, Lincoln's, Fox), as were Yellow-rumped and Orange-crowned Warblers, Ruby-crowned Kinglets, and American Pipits. Just one Brown Creeper was heard and then finally seen. Waterbirds were more limited - American Coots, Mallards, Gadwalls, Green-winged Teal. The only gulls that I saw were Ring-billed, and there were also Forster's Terns out on the water. Probably the best bird was a Bald Eagle diving at coots near the shore. I tried to get a picture when it was close, but only succeeded in getting it focused just before the eagle disappeared around a bend.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Driving, driving

Today reminded me a lot of my 2008 big year of birding. Driving, driving toward a goal, paying attention to the birds somewhat as I fly by, but mostly intent on the distant goal. This trip the goal is home, and I'll be there tomorrow. Today I drove about 730 miles across South Dakota, Nebraska and most of Kansas. Tomorrow out of Kansas, to Oklahoma and then Texas. I did not take this route in 2008, but I did quite a few days with similar single-mindedness. It was good to have our dog Shar along for company today. She's an amazing traveler, able to doze curled up on the passenger seat for mile after mile, only periodically rousing herself to look around, paw at me, and then circle around and curl up again. Of course she's always most eager to get out as soon as I slow down a bit from highway speed.

Friday, November 5, 2010

South Dakota birding

Finally I have Internet access here in Dave's new apartment in Rapid City. We've been buying stuff to get his apartment to feel a bit more like home, and we've been out birding to Canyon Lake Park here in the city, which now has many many Canada Geese, about 7 species of ducks, nuthatches, and chickadees. The birding highlight of this trip, however, is, hands-down, the Sharp-tailed Grouse that feed both morning and night on the football field about 1/2 a block from his apartment. I only found out about it after I followed a big fat grouse-shaped bird that I could see (from his living room windos) flying over a field down the hill from his apartment. Wonderful and unexpected in town!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

South Dakota birding coming up

I'll be heading up there for a few days (11/3-5) to move my husband to his new job in Rapid City. We'll have a commuting marriage for an unknown amount of time after that. In SD on my visits this winter I'm hoping to see more Snowy Owls and Snow Buntings than ever come to Texas, and maybe a few birds that never or very rarely do (e.g. Gray Partridge). But most of the time I'll be in Texas, working for my patent clients, doing a few local birding trips I hope, and fulfilling most of the various volunteer commitments that I promised to do.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Unexpected prospect of South Dakota birding

Just a few short weeks ago, birding in South Dakota did not seem to be on the horizon. But now, after applying all over the country, my husband has taken a job in Rapid City, SD, to begin in less than 2 weeks! I'm over the shock. But figuring out how to be a 2-state commuter marriage will take more time. I'll be staying here in Fort Worth, but visiting up there as often as I can manage between client and volunteer projects/meetings. I've been following the South Dakota listserv, and note that Gray Partridges (which I almost missed in my ABA big year), and a Gyrfalcon (only rarely seen by me), and wintering ducks have all been seen recently near Rapid City. I am looking forward to seeing northern birds up there when I visit this winter.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

More Extreme book progress

A big milestone today - I finished indexing the WHOLE book, and I proofed the WHOLE book, and I sent it all off to the publisher. It's really nice to feel a bit at loose ends for awhile. I had just one week to do it all. Now it will be looked over/re-proofed at the publisher, and then off to the printers! The publicity people are supposed to be hard at work at this point. Next time (?!?) I'll be more familiar with the process.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Extreme Birder excitement

My book jacket has been designed by Texas A&M University Press, and I think it looks great. I know it's in bad taste to brag, but still... You'll note that it includes the Spotted Owls that are at the top of my blog, which not only is a species that is way at the top of my favorites list, but also was one of the species that I worked the hardest for (at least 6 mountain climbs) in my big year. Seeing a picture of a Spotted Owl brings back very many memories, mostly good ones.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Update - Extreme Birder

Yippee!! I received an email today telling me the proof of my book is "in the mail" and attached to the email was a PDF of the proof! I can actually see how my book will look - it may actually be real. My photos are scattered throughout the book, my poems about my big year are in nice little sidebars, and my owl painting (see above) will be on the cover! Of course, I do have quite a bit of work to do to do the indexing of the book, and reading the proof VERY carefully, word by word, one more time. It will happen!

Monday, October 4, 2010

One more slow step toward becoming a published author

I learned today that the proof copies of my Extreme Birder book should be in the mail to me this week!! I'll need to look it over VERY carefully and then do the indexing (I'm too cheap to hire someone). I can hardly wait to see what it's actually going to look like (inside - the outside cover is still being created I guess).

American Birding Association - YES!

THE BIG NEWS today among birders is Jeff Gordon's becoming ABA's new president!! Thank goodness that that extraordinarily important decision has been made and a well-known birder will be at the helm soon. Now, we can move on with doing what the ABA should have been doing all along - listening to its members and responding with programs and initiatives that are for the members and are in line with the mission of the ABA. I will be in Providence later this week, hopefully to congratulate Jeff in person, and to discuss our committee's proposed ABA bylaws changes with the board.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Bird Bathing at the Barbers

This afternoon, without warning, all sorts of birds descended on our yard, and many were in the mood for a bath. There were at least 5 Baltimore Orioles (until this year I had only seen them one of the ten years we've been here), and the usual Northern cardinals (at least 6), Blue Jays (at least 5), American Robins (2), a Brown Thrasher, a few White-winged Doves and a handful of House Sparrows. A sampling of bathing photos can be seen at (my Facebook site).

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Finally back writing on my blog

Somehow during the summer doldrums, I haven't been able to write for awhile, but here I am, back again. My birding life has gotten a little more interesting lately. Last weekend I was in Rockport (TX) at the Hummer/Bird Festival that features zillions of Ruby-throated Hummingbirds. I got to bird in Port Aransas one morning, but birding was called on account of rain the second morning. There were enough warblers, including the pictured noisy Northern Waterthrush, at Paradise Pond to make me happy, even though the place was pretty quiet. I was delighted to find two Red Knots along the Port A. beach too. Tuesday this week I drove down to San Saba (TX) to give the first program at a new bird club - the San Saba Bird & Nature Club. They organized this summer and have a bright future, with energetic leaders and over 20 participants already.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Announcing meeting of Texas Ornithological Society

The TEXAS ORNITHOLOGICAL SOCIETY will hold its winter meeting in Fort Worth (local host: Fort Worth Audubon Society) on January 13-16, 2011. The meeting will feature field trips on Friday, Saturday and Sunday to a wide variety of north Texas birding areas, including wintering spots for sparrows and waterfowl. The Speakers will be: John DeFillipo on Thursday night, Byron Stone on Friday night, and Kenn Kaufman at the Saturday night banquet. There will also be a Member Art and Photo Show and a large Raffle and Silent Auction. The registration materials will be sent out in November by mail to T.O.S. members and will be available on the T.O.S. website at that time ( Contact for information: Lynn Barber,

Friday, July 16, 2010

Extreme Birder update

Finally a little bit of news. The wording on the jacket of my book extolling the great things in my book about my big year has been written by the editor(s) and we're set to go on that. Next thing I think will be the jacket design, which will possibly include the Spotted Owl painting that is on this blog. Please continue to stay tuned.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Hummingbird Season

I think it's almost here. A few outliers have visited my yard, a male Ruby-throat last week, and a female Black-chinned today. Any day now, there'll be two, and where there's two there's usually feisty action. Maybe, maybe, another (the same?) Rufous will arrive. The earliest she's come is August 3 (2005)- just one month from now.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Extreme Birder review

I'm at the stage of reviewing the copy-edited form of my manuscript. I've had to do a bit of revision because it's been decided to delete the times of day (when I wrote my journal entries) from the text. In some cases that means a paragraph or two needs to be rewritten to make it make sense chronologically. It gets complicated sometimes, primarily because when I wrote it I was sometimes looking backward in time and sometimes thinking of what I was going to do next. I'll need to review the whole thing one more time to be sure I've done it all correctly, and then off it goes back to the publisher. I think my next step after that will be to do an index for the final version of the book (so each bird species and each site will be indexed so someone can find them in the text). Should be fun.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


The publisher has finally "launched" my book, meaning I guess that all systems are go toward publication next spring. And I now know the title: Extreme Birder: One Woman's Big Year. It will be over 300 pages long, have 130-some bird photos. Wow -it's beginning to seem like it really will happen!!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Waiting and Research

I'm waiting for the Texas A&M University Press folks to do the copy-editing on my manuscript for my book on ABA big year of birding (running title: Passionate Birder: One Woman's Big Year). While I'm waiting, I'm doing research to see whether I might propose to do another book for "normal" people (not fanatic birders) on U.S. birds that are in decline/in danger because of their low numbers, habitat problems, etc. (e.g., Whooping Crane, Kirtland's Warbler, Lesser Prairie-Chicken). The research is very interesting, whether or not any real book comes out of it. I'd want the book to be people-friendly and not intimidating to non-birders, and hopefully lure them into picking it up and reading it.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Bird Pictures

I'm adding a couple of photos from my Ohio trip, mostly Magee Marsh west of Port Clinton.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Northern Ohio birding

I've been staying in Port Clinton, OH, where I went to my first ABA board meeting on Wednesday (5/5). Yesterday and today I birded west of there, primarily at Magee Marsh boardwalk, a very warblery spot. Today I saw 22 species of warblers, including Bay-breasted, Cape May, Black-throated Blue, Black-throated Green, Golden-winged, Ovenbird, Northern Parula, Blackpoll, and Yellow (everywhere). We saw both the Black-billed and Yellow-billed Cuckoos, all of the possible thrushes, Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, Baltimore Orioles, Eastern Kingbirds and the more common year-round birds. The boardwalk is like a very glorified lengthy Sabine Woods boardwalk (with which I'm more familiar, a sanctuary owned by the Texas Ornithological Society, near Port Arthur). I hope to add some warbler pictures here soon.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

OK Panhandle

I'm in Guymon, halfway across the OK Panhandle. I got away from Ft. Worth about 11:00 and drove north to Hackberry Flat, which is sort of on the way here. Highlights there were Bank Swallows and a flock of Wilson's Phalaropes. Just north of there at an area with cattle on both sides of the road was a huge flock of Yellow-headed Blackbirds, some of which I photographed as they crossed the road ahead of me. I then headed north and west. After the sun had set but trees and poles were visible in silhouette, I came to the tree where I had found a Great Horned Owl nest about a month ago (and had painted the owl later from my photo). Tonight, an adult owl was out on a pole in the field and what appeared to be a huge unfeathered juv owl was sitting in the nest. There may have been a second one behind the first, but it was just too dark. I'll check out the nest on Friday morning when I come back through past that tree on my trip back to Hackberry Flat for the OOS meeting.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Birding ahead

I'm looking forward to heading north to Oklahoma tomorrow to do some west-OK birding, including the OK Panhandle, before going to the Oklahoma Ornithological Society meeting in the Frederick, OK area (Hackberry Flat WMA and Wichita Mts. NWR)on the weekend.Then a couple of days at home before I head to Ohio and my first ABA board meeting where I can meet the other board members, followed by birding at The Biggest Week in American Birding at Crane Creek, Magee Marsh and Ottawa NWR in Ohio.

My book is being copy-edited now by the Texas A&M University Press people. My duty now is to gather up names and addresses of people to whom announcements of my book can be mailed, and to provide all sorts of information about me and my birding and where my book might be sold and publicized, etc. Except for impatience (always my problem) I'm loving this process!

Friday, April 23, 2010


I'm a bit scattered lately - much on my mind. We had a wonderful TOS meeting in Rockport last weekend, and here we are already at another weekend. A male Common Yellowthroat and a male Painted Bunting visited our yard briefly this morning - not a regular habitat that either likes, but just a place for them to rest briefly I guess. Next week I'm off to Oklahoma to the OOS spring meeting, to meet more people there and to see some OK birds. And I just received the agenda for the ABA board meeting, the first I'll go to, in Ohio on May 4 in conjunction with the "Biggest Week in American Birding" event in northwest Ohio. I'll stay there a few more days to bird. And then the last big news-I've signed the contract with Texas A&M University Press for my book on my big year (running title: Passionate Birder: One Woman's Big Year). And one more thing - I started two small bird paintings yesterday, doing a colored background wash for each. So much stuff I want to do; and just not enough time.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Matagorda Island

Early this morning 20 Texas Ornithological Society members along with 3 leaders and the boat captain and crew sped through the waves and rain to Matagorda Island for one of the TOS meeting's field trip. We all got very wet before the rain finally stopped as we were driven about the island on an open trailer being pulled by a truck. We did see great birds, particularly after we dried a bit. Highlights for me were a migrating Swallow-tailed Kite, Blackpoll Warbler, and two uncountable but gorgeous Aplomado Falcons. Tomorrow I get to help lead another group out there, hopefully with less or no rain. The TOS meeting here is going great, with field trips to many birdy places and great speakers.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

In Rockport

I'm at the spring meeting of the Texas Ornithological Society. Spring warblers are coming through, hastened by the strong wind - 11 species at Paradise Pond in Port Aransas this morning. I've taken pictures but no time to post them now. Tomorrow if the wind isn't too strong I'll help lead a field trip to Matagorda Island.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

No Rufous Hummingbird

It looks like Rufie is gone (last sighting was April 11), back to the northland. I hope she thinks of our yard as "home" since she was here more than half of the year (since August 18). Maybe she'll return in August/September again. It's sad.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Miscellaneous bird stuff

I think that my wintering Rufous Hummingbird is gone. I haven't seen her at all today, despite lots of looking, and only one year did she stay later than this. I still hope she'll reappear so I can post that she's still here though. I had my first Chimney Swift over the yard today though, and the American Goldfinches are up again in numbers, with 25-30 around periodicially. Of course, they'll leave soon too. Many of them are bright yellow now, and they're singing all the time.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Passionate Birder

Yesterday I submitted my manuscript (running title: Passionate Birder: One Woman's Big Year) to Texas A&M University Press, since they have accepted it for publication. The next step is apparently for them to copy-edit it, and meanwhile for me to gather information for them to use in the publishing process, such as information about me, information about places and people that might be useful in publicizing the book, etc. This whole process is very lengthy, but so exciting! The EARLIEST that my book will be out is March 2011!! Of course mine is just one in their stable of books to be published and I must get in line like everyone else. I really don't know all the things that need to be done betweeen now and then, but I'm sure I'll find out. I plan to post regularly here on what (if anything) is happening. Stay tuned.
(PS. And of course if you know people that might be interested in this book, or places that might be good to try to sell it, please let me know - email:

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Back in Oklahoma

I'm finally birding again. Yesterday I drove up to Hackberry Flat WMA, with highlights of Franklin's Gulls, American Avocets, American Golden-Plovers, and Baird's Sparrows. Then to Wichita Mts. Wildlife Refuge yesterday afternoon and this morning, with the biggest highlight being a great view of an early Black-capped Vireo. This afternoon I drove up to Salt Plains NWR, and saw Snowy Plovers out on the salt flats. There were Ring-necked Pheasants along most of the roads in the evening slanted sun. Tomorrow I'm going to the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve to look for Greater Prairie-Chickens, and then I'll go home.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


I learned today that my manuscript on my ABA birding big year has been accepted for publication by Texas A&M University Press!!! Of course, there's lots to do between now and then, but I'll be happy to do it.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Coastal Birding

Well, I did get to bird along the TX coastal bend in Port Aransas on Friday (Mar. 19) at the Birding Center and Paradise Pond (after talking about my Big Year in Rockport the night before). There were eight species of warblers, including N. Parula, Yellow-throated, Black-throated Green, Prothonotary - spring is beginning. Then last night I was back at the coast, but this time the upper coast in Lake Jackson/Clute talking to the bird club there, and today I birded at Sabine Woods (owned by Texas Ornithological Society). Highlights today were Hooded Warbler, as well as most of the warblers of last week. It's wonderful to go birding and see flashes of yellow and flitting birds starting to fill the treetops and brush.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Soon to bird

It's been awhile. Shortly I'm headed down to Rockport, where I'm scheduled to give a talk on my big year tonight. Then tomorrow I can bird Port Aransas before I return home. There should be some early migrants there, I hope.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Rusty Blackbirds

After giving a talk on backyard birding at an assisted living place in Granbury this afternoon, I went over to Cleburne's Buddy Stewart park to see if Rusty Blackbirds were there this year. And they were - at least three of them in a large flock of starlings and Red-winged Blackbirds. Then the skies let loose with a thunderstorm and a bit of small hail, and I hightailed it to home. At least I got to bird a little bit.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Rufie still guarding

Yesterday, our wintering female Rufous Hummingbird attacked, at least four times, a poor innocent American Goldfinch that really wanted to drink from the ant-guard water reservoir on one of the hummingbird feeders. At each attack the goldfinch sort of fell off the feeder, flitted off a short distance, and then returned, only to be attacked again. The yard is full of water containers, and there are four other hummingbird feeders, but there was something about that one that made it special apparently.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Cedar Waxwings

This year the Cedar Waxwings have been so common in our yard, great flocks coming down to drink from our little pond and birdbath. I've taken many pictures, and have compiled a few of them to use to make a new painting. I think it's finished now, although I may go back and touch up a few things. I've done about 20 paintings of various sizes since the wonderful weekend class that I took from John O'Neill in late October. I think the waxwing picture is one of my favorites so far.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Yellow-billed Loon in Oklahoma

It's been at Lake Hefner in northwest Oklahoma City for awhile. I'd tried to see the loon on my way to the OK Panhandle, but no sign of it. Today I was back there trying again. I did the whole route around the lake, stopping and scoping the whole lake as often as I could find parking. I did see the batch of Common Loons, which was up to 9 today, way out on the lake. I tried to convince myself that one maybe had a lighter bill. But then they got too far away to see. So I started the circuit around the lake again. I was just about past Prairie Dog Point, when there it was, quite close to me, and very clearly my first non-ocean view of a Yellow-billed Loon (only saw one off CA and 4 off AK before).

Friday, February 26, 2010

Cimarron County, OK

After waiting impatiently for it to get light out this morning, I ventured forth on sometimes icy, sometimes just wet, roads from Arnett (nw OK, not Panhandle) to Cimarron Co. (western OK Panhandle), birding on the way. Highlights were many many Mountain Bluebirds, a Great Horned Owl on its nest, a very close Townsend's Solitaire, and two Black-billed Magpies in the back "yard" of the B&B where I am staying. Although there's still a small amount of snow on the ground out here, the roads are fine. Tomorrow looks to be a good day for birding (aren't they all?).

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Back to Oklahoma

This is supposed to be my year of exploring Oklahoma. Finally I'm back for my second trip, this time my goal being the OK Panhandle. Unfortunately, I'm not quite there, and it's snowing like mad outside my motel room. I hope it doesn't mess up my plans for tomorrow. At least I have a bit of food in my car, and I got a can of Pringles at the gas station. As long as the electricity stays on, I can watch tv and do computer stuff. When I can get out of here, I plan to go all the way to out to the end of the Panhandle. I need to return home on Sunday because of client work needing to be done on Monday.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

A New Bird-related Hat

The big news is that I'm now a member of the board of directors of the American Birding Association. They needed someone to fill an unexpired term for a couple of months, and somehow latched on to me. The board voted me in this afternoon, and I will stand for election for my own term at the May meeting of the ABA. Should be interesting.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Rufous Hummer Attacking

She's at it again. I think the cold weather brings it out in her. Late this afternoon, a pair of cardinals made the mistake of sitting on a branch about 10 inches above one of the (of 5) hummingbird feeders that I have out. Immediately, and out of nowhere, the female Rufous Hummingbird appeared making a beeline straight at the heads of the cardinals, over and over, on the attack. What a brave (and dumb?) little bird!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

In between

Sort of slow on the birding front, but I did go to Village Creek Drying Beds yesterday (Arlington, TX). Nothing extraordinary there. Just the usual ducks. The roads were still quite muddy and pot-holed so I didn't get to see the whole place, but it was good to be out for awhile. For the next few days I'll be hard at work, hoping to clear out my client schedule enough to allow me to head up to Oklahoma again to do some more exploring. I'd intended to spend much more time there this year, but either my work or the weather here or both have kept me pretty close to home for most of February.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Hummingbird anniversary

Today is the 6-month anniversary of the arrival of our wintering female Rufous Hummingbird. She was busy today, as usual, but not quite so busy as on very cold days when she is often visible at the feeders. For the last eight years my wintering female Rufous Hummingbird (presumably not the same bird for all nine years) has generally departed between mid-March and mid-April. She clearly spends a lot less time on her breeding ground than on her wintering grounds.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Bird painting

In between home/office activities I've been trying to get some bird-painting done. I started out in November doing bird illustrations with white backgrounds (like the Spotted Owls at the top of this blog page), but lately I've been seeing what it's like to paint birds in their environment,such as Northern Harriers over fields and an ocean view with a Northern Gannet and Razorbills. I'm not sure what my motivation is for doing the painting, but it's so enjoyable, I guess that's enough. Eventually though, I may run out of wall-space.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

"Backyard" birding

I've been participating in the Great Backyard Bird Count, with the "backyard" pretty loosely defined (a park, a roadside, etc.) since Friday. Yesterday I went to 5 different "backyards" in Fort Worth, the highlights being the Rufous Hummingbird in my real backyard, over a thousand each of American Robins and Cedar Waxwings in Foster Park, a Le Conte's Sparrow and Fox Sparrows at Longhorn Park (north Benbrook Lake), about 8 McCown's Longspurs in southwest Tarrant County (almost all the way to Parker County, along the road) and many Fox and Harris's Sparrows at Mustang Park on Benbrook Lake. Today I was time-limited to my real backyard by church activities, but tomorrow I'll try a few more places. It's a great excuse to have to go birding for a good cause.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Savannah Sparrow?

I think I know a Savannah Sparrow when I see one, but I've never had a Savannah Sparrow in my yard before. I think this bird that's in my yard now is one but every now and then it looks like it has too much rufous in its wings - if you see this picture and think it's something else, please let me know.

Snow, Snow, Lovely Snow

About two inches, or maybe more, so far. The birds are wildly attacking the seeds, nuts, suet. Too bad today isn't the Great Backyard Bird Count, because I'm not going anywhere else today and there are so many birds.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Feisty Rufous and American Goldfinches

It seems that when the weather is coldest, our Rufous Hummingbird gets most possessive of her feeders. Today she chased the Orange-crowned Warbler from the hummingbird feeder again. Then, when every goldfinch feeder was filled with goldfinches, and they had overflowed to the seed-sock on the porch next to a hummingbird feeder, Rufie began to attack goldfinches, particularly the one that mistakenly sat on the hummingbird feeder. I didn't get a picture of Rufie, but I'm posting a picture of a goldfinch on the sock, and another picture of a very gold goldfinch.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Rainy, Rainy, Birdy

I'm glad we're not getting snow in Fort Worth, and that I escaped the east coast last week before the big snows there, but I'm getting a bit tired of the rain here. The birds, however, are more active than ever. Much of the time, even in the rain, the goldfinch feeders are filled, which means that there are at least 70 finches, plus the branches of the pecan tre above the feeders are filled with more sweetly talking goldfinches. Quarts of nyjer seed are consumed each day. And Rufie, our wintering female Rufous Hummingbird, periodically appears on the porch, under the roof, to drink from either the heated or the unheated feeder. How all these birds manage to not die of overexposure amazes me. And where does a tiny hummingbird keep dry and safe when she's not on our porch? I need to go over and stand by our electric heater to warm up just thinking about it.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Observation of British Blackcap

My sister (Ann), while not a fanatic birder like me has been enjoying the birds where she lives near London, England. She told me that if I had a slow day I could post her recent observations of a Blackcap. She says: the female blackcap went many times to the apple which I had stuck on the end of a large s-hook in our cherry tree, and seemed to be enjoying eating the apple pulp (I had cut off the peel in a couple of places to expose the white apple flesh). She also ate from a couple of our fat feeders. But the best bit was watching her on the covered tray which holds mostly shelled sunflower seeds, with a sprinkling of dried meal worms on top. She had some sunflower seeds, but I really laughed when I caught her "killing" a dried meal worm by bashing it vigorously several times against the pile of sunflower seeds before swallowing it! Awwwh--so sweet!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Laredo birding, etc.

After presenting my big year slide to San Antonio Audubon on Thursday (2/4), I drove part-way to Laredo, and the next day early was in Laredo looking for, and not finding, the Amazon Kingfisher. It's one of those birds that I waited (because I had no choice this time) too late to go for. My welcomed consolation prize was the female White-collared Seedeater. The kingfisher was last seen on 2/3, and may be gone. Today (2/6) I joined the Fort Worth Audubon birding in the park trip, with lots of Yellow-rumped Warblers, Ruby-crowned Kinglets, Cedar Waxwings and American Robins, but nothing noteworthy. In the late afternoon, I went out to take a few photos of Harris's Sparrows, which I'm hoping to use to do a painting of them.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Slow day but birding to come

Tomorrow I drive to San Antonio, so I can tell SA Audubon people about my ABA big year. And then on Friday, I'll try for the Amazon Kingfisher that's been in Laredo,and hopefully I'll not be too late.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Sign of Spring?

I'm back home in Fort Worth. There's not really much sign of spring except that one of the nearly 100 American Goldfinches at the feeders today was bright, bright yellow. I think he's a bit too early, especially since the ground hog saw his shadow today (or at least one of them did). Although it never got much above 50 degrees today, it was a lot warmer than North Carolina's freezing, icy weather.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

From NC coastal area to Raleigh

This morning a few of us did a seawatch for awhile from the hotel after we packed up, killing time to allow the sun to come up and melt off some of the ice from the roads between Atlantic Beach and Raleigh. Then we got the word that the three Sandhill Cranes that have been wintering in the area had been spotted in one of their known dawn/dusk locations. We raced over there, but the cranes had flown north somewhere. They were relocated by Ricky Davis, giving some of us our first crane sighting for the state. Then we headed back to Raleigh, relieved that the roads were not as bad as we had heard. I'm really glad I had a chance to be back in NC for awhile, but I do hope that the planes are not too delayed by all the snow and ice that is still in the area and that I make it home tomorrow.

Friday, January 29, 2010

NC Birding

It looks like we're in for a nasty rainy, super-windy day tomorrow, so I may be holed up with the rest of the CBC group in the Atlantic Beach hotel, trying to entertain ourselves. Today was cold and windy, but we did get some great birds on the CBC field trip to the Croatan NF area, including Bachman's Sparrow, Red-cockaded Woodpecker, Brown-headed and White-breasted Nuthatches. In the New Bern area we found a Eurasian Wigeon among zillions of other ducks, and at Fort Macon State Park we found a very wind-blown Purple Sandpiper. Tonight we have a program on NC folk stories, and tomorrow night is my talk on my ABA big year. We head back to Raleigh on Sunday, where hopefully all the forecast ice pellets/snow/freezing rain or whatever will have been cleared so we can drive and I can catch my plane on Monday.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

North Carolina pelagic

Today I went out on a special Brian Patteson pelagic trip out of Hatteras for attendees of the Carolina Bird Club meeting. It was a small group of birders who braved very cold weather, but at least no rain. The sea was pretty good too. Highlights were some 4000-plus Northern Gannets, Red Phalaropes, an Iceland Gull, many Razorbills, a Parasitic Jaeger (but no Great Skua), Great and Lesser Black-backed Gulls, and Brant back near shore.

Monday, January 25, 2010

North Carolina bound

I spent the day working my way through tons of client and Texas Ornithological Society matters, plus packing my bags for NC. Tomorrow morning I fly to Raleigh, where my birding friend Lena will pick me up and we'll head for the Outer Banks. Wednesday is a pelagic trip, and then we'll go to Atlantic Beach for the Carolina Bird Club's winter meeting. It will be great to see some of my birding pals from NC, where I lived for 21 years before moving to Texas, and of course, I'm looking forward to seeing Carolina birds.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Village Creek Drying Beds, etc.

Today I birded Village Creek Drying Beds (Arlington, TX) with an out-of-town visiting birder and our Fort Worth Audubon field trip chair. Highlights included about 13 Wilson's Snipe all together on one of the few suitable areas, a female Common Goldeneye, and zillions of other ducks (N. Shovelers, N. Pintails, Gadwalls, Ring-necked Ducks, Green-winged Teal, Buffleheads, Ruddy Ducks, American Wigeon, Lesser Scaup, Mallards) plus a small flock of Canada Geese. We checked out the Monk Parakeet colony in Fort Worth, stopped by our house to see our Rufous Hummingbird, and then checked out the spillway area at Bryant-Irvin/20. There in addition to the usual supply of wintering ducks and Ring-billed Gulls was a lone wintering Black-bellied Whistling-Duck (I recall that there was one there last winter too).

Thursday, January 21, 2010

In between

Being in-between birding trips is much less fun when I'm not doing a big year. The in-between lasts so long! Of course it does give me time to do laundry, finish client projects, watch my backyard Rufous Hummingbird, relax sometimes. My next birding trip will be in North Carolina. I fly there on Tuesday (1/26) to go on a pelagic trip, bird the Outer Banks with a friend, attend the Carolina Bird Club weekend meeting and go on their field trips, and give their banquet speech Saturday night (1/30). Between then and now, I may get to do some birding with an out-of-town visitor who wants to see some Texas birds.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Still home

A non-birding day, working at home. But I did take time to watch the Rufous Hummingbird in our yard, snapping at insects and sipping sugar-water. Even though it was quite warm out, the American Goldfinches filled up all the 70 or so nyjer perches nearly all day. An Orange-crowned Warbler and a Ruby-crowned Kinglet periodically visited the suet feeder and the nut feeder.

Monday, January 18, 2010


I am back home and delighted to see that my Rufous Hummingbird is still here. Also in the yard this morning were/are many American Goldfinches, Cedar Waxwings, and a Ruby-crowned Kinglet, plus the usuals. It's time to do some between-birding work.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Bentsen State Park

Today I had no TOS responsibilities and needed to head home, but I went to Bentsen State Park for most of the morning before heading out. I was delighted to see two of my goal birds (missing the Allen's Hummingbird in spite of about three hours of feeder-watching). What I did see was a Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl, which someone else found. The owl finder came tell us about the owl(I was watching another set of feeders for the Rose-throated Becard). The owl was high in a tree and easily seen if you knew just exactly where to look, and almost impossible to find if you did not. When I returned to the becard spot, it was not too long before the becard returned. It is apparently a young male with the pinkest throat I have ever seen on one (having not seen a full adult male). Although I did not see it feed today, its habit is to feed from a peanut butter feeder, which seems very strange.

I am posting a picture of the Rose-throated Becard and another of the Tropical Parula seen yesterday (because yesterday my computer just ceased operating and I gave up).

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Warblering in the Valley

Today I was the leader for the "Weslaco Rocks" field trip as part of the TOS meeting, going to Estero Llano Grande (E), the Valley Nature Center, and Frontera Audubon (F), all in Weslaco (TX). Highlights for me were a Black-throated Gray Warbler and a Yellow-throated Warbler (E), and Nashville and Wilson's Warblers and a Tropical Parula (F). I'm hoping to post a picture of the Tropical Parula. In between actual birding, part of this field trip was my talk at the Valley Nature Center on my ABA Big Year in 2008, primarily attended by about 50 winter Texans, who were a great audience with lots of interest and good questions about what it's like to do a big year. It's been a great TOS meeting with about 220 registrants, pretty good weather and many good birds. There will be a few field trips tomorrow for people who do not need to head home right away. My plans are to go to Bentsen State Park to look for the Rose-throated Becard, which was refound today after a couple of days of being absent. Then I'll start the 9+ hour drive back to Fort Worth.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Birding Bentsen SP and Anzalduas again

Erik Breden and I led a trip to Bentsen State Park and Anzalduas County Park today. The weather was cloudy much of the day but almost no rain!! With such good weather we had talked about going to a couple of additional areas, but we spent quite a bit of time haunting the two spots at Bentsen where the Bare-throated Tiger-Heron had been seen, but had no sightings (it's now been three days since a sighting). Birding was quite good for the regulars there (Clay-colored Thrush, Altamira Oriole, Green Jay, etc.)plus Least Grebe, Nashville Warbler. At Anzalduas there were even more warblers than yesterday (Black-and-white, Black-throated Gray, Black-throated Green, Palm, Pine, Yellow-rumped)plus Northern Beardless-Tyrannulet, Green Kingfisher, Lesser Goldfinch. I'm looking forward to birding Weslaco tomorrow. This has been a great TOS meeting so far!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Down in the Valley

Starting just before 5:00 AM I drove to the Lower Rio Grande Valley today (with my detour it was a trip of about 530 miles). As I was about to zoom past Choke Canyon State Park, I realized that it would be really dumb not to go look for the Northern Jacana that has been seen there regularly for weeks. So I went, and I was delighted to see it poking around at the edge of 75 Acre Lake at the Calliham Unit of the park. It was a very busy bird, often flying a short hop to another patch of sedgy-stuff, picking at the water for awhile and then flying a short hop again. There were quite a few birders there, most of whom were also on their way to the TOS meeting in Weslaco. There was also an active non-quite adult male Vermilion Flycatcher and a Scissor-tailed Flycatcher.

After that I drove like mad to the Valley, having decided to bird at Anzalduas County Park for the hour or so that was available before I needed to go to the TOS meeting. At Anzalduas highlights for me were a Gray Hawk (imm) and a Zone-tailed Hawk, both well seen and photographed, the usual Black Phoebe, and a Black-throated Green Warbler, as well as some of the usual species.

The TOS meeting is now underway, after registration tonight, hearing a great talk by Roy Rodriguez about NE Mexico and its birds, and getting instructions about the field trips that will happen tomorrow. The forecast is for up to 8 inches(!) of rain tomorrow, so things may be a bit different than planned.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Today my yard; tomorrow the Texas "Valley"

Today I was rewarded for sitting at my computer and working (and occasionally looking out the window) by the cheery sight of a male Spotted Towhee scratching around in the center of the backyard. It's only the second time in 10 years that I've seen one in the yard! The Rufous Hummingbird made a half-hearted attempt to shoo him away by diving to within one foot of his back.

Very early tomorrow I'll be on my way to the TOS (Texas Ornithological Society) meeting in Weslaco. Although there's rain forecast for part of it, at least it won't be as cold as it's been, and the birds will probably still be findable. I'm looking forward to birding down there, and of course hoping for rarities.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Warmth returns

It got to just over 50 degrees today, and our Rufous Hummingbird was able to spend time catching insects instead of coming so often to the sugar-water. The Orange-crowned Warbler was absent most of the day making life a lot easier for Rufie. And I was busy all day doing client work and getting a root canal done at the dentist. I am so looking forward to going to the Valley (Weslaco and surrounding areas) for the Texas Ornithological Society meeting (begins this Thursday)!! It's a great way to add new birds to the year list, and maybe some rarities, and to see longtime birding friends and meet new birding friends.

Monday, January 11, 2010

A calmer day

With the warming up today (about 50 degrees) our Rufous Hummingbird calmed down a little. Only once did I see her attack the Orange-crowned Warbler, and then she didn't really follow through with her previous zest. The yard was kept a bit quieter too by the Cooper's Hawk perched just above the bird bath, about 8 feet from the ground for at least an hour, after it made a few wild dashes through the yard to panic all of the White-winged Doves.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Bathing in ice water

My Rufous Hummingbird was just now taking a bath in ice water!! This is the second time I've seen such a thing. Today, she landed on the edge of the ice in the birdbath, right next to the tiny drip of water that was keeping a small puddle of water open in the middle of the frozen birdbath. She flipped her wings around and splashed a bit of ice water in the air and then flew off. Of course she chased off a trespassing Carolina Chickadee before she settled in for her bath.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Rufous Hummingbird continued

Today not only is the Rufous Hummingbird chasing and harassing the Orange-crowned Warbler, but now she's also dive-bombing a Carolina Chickadee that dared to sup at the water-reservoir/ant-trap on the hummingbird feeder. I've posted a picture here of the Rufous and the Orange-crowned last night in the red glow of the heat lamp finally at a moment of truce.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Feisty Rufous Hummingbird

My wintering Rufous Hummingbird showed her seriously feisty self today. Apparently an Orange-crowned Warbler has discovered that sugar-water is a good supplement to nuts from the nearby feeder, especially on a cold (22 degrees) day. And "Rufie" does not like it. Numerous times during the day, the warbler hopped on to one of the hummingbird feeders and drank with some effort through the narrow holes, and almost always it was attacked by Rufie. During one instance the warbler was knocked off a nearby branch by the dive-bombing Rufie. Mostly the warbler fended off the attacks with a wide-open bill and held her ground. Later today, as darkness began to fall and Rufie's efforts did not dislodge the warbler from the heated feeder (heat lamp), they finally came to a resolution and both drank deeply from the feeder at the same time, one on each side of the feeder. Tonight is expected to get down to 15 or 16 degrees, so they both need all the calorie intake that they can get.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010


Today was the first day of just exploring areas of Oklahoma to see what I might find. I started at Elmore City where Trumpeter Swans had been reported on the lake there. Although I no longer "need" these swans for the year (a good thing as it turned out since I did not find them at Elmore City), I thought the lake might yield a few new ducks, and it did. I saw about 25 Hooded Mergansers and two Ruddy Ducks, in addition to ducks I'd already seen in OK. There were flocks of Field Sparrows, a few Savannah Sparrows and a Lincoln's Sparrow, plus a Belted Kingfisher, and very vocal Yellow-rumped Warblers flitting about. I decided to go next to explore Lake Murray State Park, which was even birdier than I'd hoped. In addition to numerous Pied-billed Grebes, I saw a Horned Grebe and a couple of Common Loons diving, two perched Bald Eagles, two White-breasted Nuthatches and a Tufted Titmouse at a feeding station at a camp-site. Robins and Cedar Waxwings were plentiful (no Bohemians though). I did a little exploring of various Lake Texoma sites before heading home to Fort Worth where I expect to be for the next week or so. I was delighted to find that our Rufous Hummingbird was still around our yard when I returned, actively feeding, probably tanking up for the forecast very cold temperatures that will be arriving soon.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Drive across OK and hunt for swans

Today (1/5) after trying unsuccessfully for the owl (see last post), I drove across northern Oklahoma to the Garber area to look for the Trumpeter Swans that had been found a few days ago. Most of the ponds were nearly completely frozen over, and I found no swans - just many ducks and geese, mostly sitting on ice or out in the fields. I headed south to Norman to the Summit Lake subdivision, a site where swans had also been reported. This time I was more lucky and found 7 Trumpeter Swans (1 imm, 6 adults). I then explored the area around Lake Thunderbird to the east of Norman, where I added Wild Turkeys, Bonaparte's Gulls, American White Pelican, Ruby-crowned Kinglet and Greater Roadrunner to my OK year-list. I ended the day at 74 species for the year in OK, as compared to 137 for Texas so far. For details on what birds I've seen so far, you can check my web-site (, which I should be able to get up-to-date shortly. Tomorrow I'll head south to home, birding along the way of course.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Oklahoma (Arnett) Christmas Bird Count

On Sunday (1/3) I drove from Fort Worth to Arnett, OK to participate in the CBC. Unfortunately I could not get the wifi to work in my room in Arnett so haven't been able to post until now, except to begin this post on my cell phone. I'm completing it now on 1/5. The CBC on 1/4 only had 7 participants, but we managed to put together quite a good list. Our team took a quick break outside the count circle to follow a rancher and find a Lesser Prairie-Chicken. Inside the circle were many Sandhill Cranes, American Goldfinches, Mountain Bluebirds, American Tree-Sparrows, a couple of Ferruginous Hawks, a Loggerhead and a Northern Shrike, Spotted Towhees, a Virginia Rail, and other more common birds. But the real highlight came at the end of the day when three of us saw two Great Gray Owls!! I know it's unbelievable, and I wouldn't believe it myself if I hadn't gotten a very good, clear view of one of the owls. Huge saucer-size facial disks, a huge, long gray body, with no brown. There really isn't any other possibility, but OK just doesn't get Great Gray Owls! Until now, apparently. (Note: The consensus as of 1/13 is they must have been Barred Owls, because who ever heard of a Great Gray Owl in Oklahoma?!!) I went back this morning to try to see it again, but had no luck. I sure hope someone else has a chance to go to the Arnett area again this winter. If so, please contact me and I'll give directions to the site.

Rufous Hummingbird

We returned home to Fort Worth last night. This morning, I saw a few new year-birds in our yard, including a most welcome sighting of our wintering Rufous Hummingbird. While we were gone on vacation for just over a week, it was mostly quite cold and she had to make it through some very wintery weather, so her little "tick-tick" in the back bushes was a very cheery sound! Now time to pack for Oklahoma.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Northern Wheatear

What an amazing bird, and so soon after the Bare-throated Tiger-Heron! It was very good timing that I heard about the wheatear that is in Bee County (TX) just before my husband and I were due to travel north from Rockport to Fort Worth today. While not directly on the route, the Amish farm where the wheatear had been found wasn't too far off the path. Unfortunately the bird vanished right before I got there, and it took awhile for it to return. When it did, however, the wheatear calmly went back to hopping about on the bricks where it had been previously seen, and allowed me a few photos before I needed to leave. This morning was also great with astounding views of Le Conte's and Grasshopper Sparrows on the Rockport CBC, birds that were up and visible without any tape playing or pishing or tromping through the grasses. So now I'm home, doing laundry and getting ready to go to Oklahoma tomorrow to participate in the Arnett Christmas Bird Count on Monday, the way I've decided to begin my exploratory year in OK.

Friday, January 1, 2010

New Year Big Day

Normally I start the New Year doing a "big day" in the Rockport, TX area with the "shrikes". That wasn't possible today due to the sudden and unexpected illness of one of the group, so I decided to try it on my own. Highlights of the 104 species seen were Burrowing Owl, American & Least Bitterns, Least Grebe, and Pacific Loon (pictures of all 5 species taken). Although a bit cold, it was a beautiful day to be out birding. Apparently those who went to Bentsten SP to start their New Year also had a wonderful day, with a very cooperative Bare-throated Tiger-Heron.

gold parties