Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Bulletin #96 – November birds

David McDonald Photography
Friendswood Texas
November 25, 2009

Bulletin #96 – November birds

Hello friends,

Thank you to all those who attended my talks on "Winter Birds of the Houston area" at Webster Presbyterian Church and the Deer Park Garden Club earlier this month.

Many species of winter birds continue to arrive on the upper Texas coast.

I had my first sighting this fall, of a Hermit Thrush (Catharus guttatus) at Brazos Bend State Park. This brown thrush with breast spots is IDed by the rufous tail. It is also the only brown thrush with spots that winters here.

West Galveston Island had some nice birds. I went to a salt marsh to look for sparrows, but the only bird I found was a Marsh Wren (Cistothorus palustris). This bird is identified by the rufous color, long bill, eye-stripe and streaking on the back. These are the best photos I have taken of this secretive bird.

I also took this photo of a Black-Crowned Night-Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax) on a dead tree. When I got home and developed the pictures, I saw that this bird had an unusual plumage. It has a brown back and just a few wing spots. Sibley call this a first summer bird.

This bird has an unusual Latin name in that the genus and species are the same. I am sure there are other birds with identical genus and species names. I know of one other in North America.

Quiz - do you know of any other birds with genus and species names the same? Email me if you find one and I'll give the answers next bulletin.

I next drove to another salt marsh area at Surfside Beach. Here I did find some sparrows, but just Seaside Sparrows (Ammodramus maritimus). This is a large (6") dark gray sparrow with a large bill. The yellow spot in front of the eye and heavy breast streaking ID this bird.

The first photo is an adult with some caramel color on face and breast.

Here is a juvenile plumaged bird with much less color, but it still has that distinctive yellow spot.

At Brazoria NWR, I found an American Bittern (Botaurus lentiginosus) along the auto route, completely out in the open. These birds are normally shy and elusive. In an attempt to approach him closer, I took the photos from the car.

I drove closer and got right beside him, so I could just get his head in the photo.


I drove back around the one-way auto loop and he was still there. This time I got out of the car, but he took off while I was 30 yards away. Here he is flying. His yellow legs can be seen.

I also saw this unfortunate female Northern Shoveler (Anas clypeata) duck. She has her foot stuck in a branch and thus has to drag it around with her as she swims. I don't know how she will fly, as it seems to be jammed into her wing feathers as well.

I read some books about birds and birding, so I thought that I would give a brief review of a book that I just finished and enjoyed.

The book is "A Supremely Bad Idea" (3 Mad Birders and Their Quest to See It All) by Luke Dempsey. It is about 3 birders from New York City and their trips to birding locations across the USA. They travel to Florida, Arizona, Michigan and Texas. As I have birded in AZ, FL and TX, I have been to most of the actual locations they went and saw the birds they found. So it brought back some great memories.

However, the book is hilarious as he describes the people they meet, the places they stay and situations that develop. I actually stayed in the same motel in the Rio Grande Valley, Texas (Alamo Inn) that they stayed at.

The book was extremely funny and I laughed so hard, it brought tears to my eyes. I recommend it highly as a fun light read.

All comments and suggestions are welcomed and appreciated.

Happy birding and photography,

David McDonaldemail:

photos copyright 2009 David McDonald

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