Birder's Guide

NOV 2013

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 34 of 67

still in Ithaca, New York, when Andrew said fallout conditions were likely to hit Wednesday, so we needed to cut down our scouting time and be prepared for the Big Day of a lifetime on Thursday. Although it might have seemed that Wednesday, the day of the fallout, would be the day to run the Big Day, we chose the following day to avoid the 30-mph north winds and cold temperatures during the passage of the front. Fortunately, those weather conditions also kept the migrants grounded so that they were still present for us on Thursday afternoon; we heard many of them leaving in a massive nocturnal migration on Thursday night. The Day: By Wednesday night, we convened in San Antonio and were loading the car, making fnal route tweaks, resting up a little, and enjoying our last sit-down meal before our 24-hour birding marathon. Our route, timed to the minute, covered roughly 650 miles within Texas, from Uvalde to the Bolivar Peninsula. At midnight, we hit the ground running with a lingering Ross's Goose in Boerne, followed by a nesting American Robin (our only one of the day!) in San Antonio, and a suite of owls and nightjars thereafter. At dawn, we found ourselves in the desert west of Uvalde, where a calling Scaled Quail joined the dawn chorus with other key western desert species. Uvalde is a great focal point for morning birding on a Big Day. Being close to the Hill Country, southwestern desert birds, eastern forest birds (like Yellow-throated Warbler and Yellow-throated Vireo), and Mexican species (like Green Jay and White-tipped Dove) all come together in one narrow zone. After our dawn-calling quail, we drove a route that transected habitats good for all three groups of birds, including the two breeding-endemic Hill Country birds: Golden-cheeked Warbler and Black-capped Vireo. This year, we managed to connect with almost all of our hoped-for species, many of which we found at Chalk Bluff Park during a quick 50-minute blitz, including a returning territorial Rufous-capped Warbler. From Chalk Bluff, we hit a few other key spots, visited the Uvalde National Fish Hatchery, made a fateful return visit to the Uvalde dump (site of the 2012 fat tire), and left the area with 129 species, which did not include Chihuahuan Raven, our quarry at the dump. Especially notable around Uvalde were a Gray Vireo (Uvalde County's frst record in eBird, Scaled Quail represents a suite of desert found by Ken Rosenberg), a lingering species that are found in Uvalde County. Greater White-fronted Goose, and a host Photo © Christopher L. Wood. of late-departing landbirds, such as Redbreasted Nuthatch, House Wren, Hermit Thrush, Vesper and Lincoln's sparrows, and Ruby-crowned Kinglet, all of which we missed the year before! After birding Uvalde, we drove nonstop to the Mitchell Lake Audubon Center, where optimal water levels created an impoundment with myriad ducks and Roseate Spoonbill and many other waterbirds crucial shorebirds. Mitchell Lake to a high total are found at coastal sites like High is a superb birding site and Island. Photo © Christopher L. Wood. Radar imagery from 18:30 CDT on Wed. 24 Apr. 2013. A line of storms offshore is the trailing edge of the cold front. When birds traveling across the Gulf of Mexico (which departed at dusk on the 23rd) hit the front and its associated strong north winds and rain, they dropped into the nearest points of land on the afternoon and evening of the 24th. With continuing strong north winds that night, there was little nocturnal migration, and many birds from the fallout were still present on the 25th, the Big Day. In addition, the weather on the 25th was perfect for birding, with light winds and clear skies. November 2013 | Birder's Guide to Listing & Taxonomy 33

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