Birder's Guide

JAN 2019

Birder's Guide is the American Birding Association's newest publication. Each issue focuses on a key subject, providing tips from experienced birders on a wide variety of topics like Travel, Listing & Taxonomy, Gear, and Conservation & Community.

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Page 39 of 67

cell might be filled with dabbling ducks while the one beside it may have diving ducks. The trails also skirt around grassy areas with meadowlarks and sparrows as well as forests that can host wintering or migrating passerines. Raptors frequently fly overhead, from Bald Eagles to Northern Harriers and even Crested Caracaras, which have recently expanded into the area. A pair of Bald Eagles nested within view of the trails this past year. These trails can provide a rigorous day of birding and yield a large checklist, es- pecially in winter or spring migration, but alternatively one can set up at the gazebo at the end of the boardwalk after a leisurely stroll and be surrounded by multitudes of birds for hours. This is a wonderful place to listen to duck songs in early spring as wintering birds begin practicing before leaving for their northern breeding territo- ries. Blue-winged Teal, Green-winged Teal, and Northern Shoveler winter in num- bers, and others like Gadwall should be around in smaller cohorts. Diving ducks like Lesser Scaup can also be present, but the duck species composition is dynamic, which of course adds to the excitement. Both Black-bellied and Fulvous whistling- ducks can be found, although summer is better for Fulvous. Particularly thrilling is the strong pos- sibility of Cinnamon Teal, which has re- cently become more regular, represent- ing an extreme eastern range occurrence for this species. Another more recent and regular species is Least Grebe, just about the northernmost location for this species. The superb possibilities for photograph - ing wading birds and ducks cannot be un- derstated. The views of Roseate Spoonbills, Black-necked Stilts, and American Avocets can't be beat. For advanced birders, there are a number of ID challenges that oc- cur in few other places in the ABA Area. American and Fish crows overlap here, as do Double-crested and Neotropic cormo- rants, sometimes perching right alongside each other, providing a good opportu- nity to note the difference in size and tail length. Glossy and White-faced ibises are both present, with the White-faced occur- ring in greater numbers. Boat-tailed and Great-tailed grackles, not to forget Common Grackle, are yet another group that coincide at Cattail Marsh. For the grackles, eye color is a distinguishing factor as well as voice. A number of other small black passerines also pass through here in numbers, like Brown-headed Cowbird and Red-winged Blackbird. In the evening, once the light is too dim for photography, it can be an en- gaging challenge to try to ID the hundreds of birds that pass through in flight as they rush past the boardwalk in the fading light. The swallow diversity of this site cre- ates yet another fun ID exercise. In July in particular, it's possible to get seven spe - cies of swallow (Northern Rough-winged, Cave, Cliff, Tree, Bank, Barn, and Purple Martin) within as little as half an hour. You can master practically all your ABA n Prothonotary Warblers breed at Shangri La Botanical Gardens and Nature Center east of Beaumont. Photo © Skip Russell n Birding around Beaumont, Texas, is as good as it gets—with multiple sites offering good sightings at all times of the year. Map © John Allendorf 38 Birder's Guide to Travel | Jamuary 2019 Birding Beaumont

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