Guiding a group of intrepid Wimberley Birding Society birders at the beautiful Lost Maples State Natural Area in Vanderpool, Tx and surrounding area. Weather projection for great sightings is optimal....thank goodness, because I'm camping and don't enjoy sleeping out in the rain or cold! Some of our favorite sightings were the Golden-cheeked Warbler, Black-capped Vireo, Scott's Oriole and we heard the White-tipped Dove.
The 18th Annual Butterfly Day has now come and gone. I am always happy , privileged and honored to play a small role in this event. My table was stationed in one of my favorite locations in the gardens....at the chess set! I remember the 1st Butterfly Day eighteen years ago.... there were a small handful of butterflies released and activity tables set up... it was very quiet and peaceful. This year it has grown to a cacophony of sights and sounds...people everyone, equally inspired by the awakening of Spring and Life. I had a great day guiding Bird Walks around the Gardens...best sighting of the day was the Indigo Bunting! I met many nice folks, whom I will be in contact with for my 1st Tuesday Bird Walks in and around Wimberley. Looking forward to raising and releasing a cage of butterflies at the 2017 Festival!
An enthusiastic group of birders gathered at the Wimberley Community Center, bright and early to begin their quest for birds on Tax Day 2016 (April 15). After a rousing chant of our BIRDER mantra (Better Identification Reduces Doubt & Enhances Results) we broke into three teams: #1-The Broadwinged Road Stoppers (Tom T., Sally E., Linda L., Suzanne J. and me).. #2-The Hill Country Hooters (Bill & Bobbie W, Nan & Don P., & Jan H.)...and #3- The Newbies & Oldbies ( David G., Lila M., Jim & Mitzie W., Lynne S., and Susan N.) and headed out on a competitive quest to find local bird species. After three hours spent at the Patsy Glenn Refuge, Woodcreek North and Blue Hole Park we reconvened to tally up group numbers. The teams sighted a collective 57 species for the morning. Everyone then gathered at Milagros for the Annual Awards Luncheon where Team #1 was awarded with the coveted traveling Grand Champoin(sp) Trophy Cup for having the most sightings....I was proud to receive the Red Cardinal Award for being the Most Valuable Birder (of the Ear). It was a most fun and memorable morning and my calendar is marked for the Tax Day 2017 competition!
RCW spotted at Lost Maples State Natural Area in Vanderpool, TX....rarely seen in the United States as far north as Tx or southern AZ.... heading 2 1/2 hrs there right now. This would be a lifer for me. RCW is a New World wood warbler native to Mexico and Central Mexico. Altho generally birds of tropical shrubby highlands, North American sightings tend to be in oak woodland canyon bottoms, near running water, low in dense vegetation. They primarily feed on insects and spiders, foraging close to the ground.
Preparing for 10 days of birding in Colorado.... leaving Fri for the Denver and surrounding mountain areas. Checking in with Corporate at the Partnership for International Birding while there, too. Target birds for the trip are White-tailed Ptarmigan, Golden Eagle, Mountain Bluebird, Clark's Nutcracker, Mountain Chickadee and the Black-billed Magpie.
Looking forward to attending the first American Birding Expo on Oct 2-4, 2015 put on by Birders Digest magazine. Can't wait to talk to people and spread the word about the great birding trips offered by the Partnership for International Birding! Most of the top optics vendors, travel companies, birders, birding supply vendors,etc from around the world are expected to attend.
It's not that far from one of my favorite birding hotspots, Magee Marsh.
I will be leading monthly bird walks in Wimberley, TX. Meet at the community center at 7:15 AM on the 1st Tuesday of every month. The first one will be next Tuesday, September 1st, so mark your calendars and show up. The location of the walk will be no more than an hour away. Easy to moderate walking .....$10 fee.
I am excited to announce my affiliation with the Partnership For International Birding. This is an exciting organization with which I look forward to a long career. I will be setting up a page with more information in the near future, but in the meantime know that you may contact me for assistance in setting up any and all of your dream birding trips! I would be honored to lead your birding trips within Texas and hope to assist with your other U.S. or international trips. Click here for information on PIB
Been busy this month doing Spring Bird Surveys...seeing a nice variety of birds, but not a whole lot of each kind. Painted Buntings are in abundance this year, which is nice....Golden-cheeked Warblers are here, too! A high spot for me was the article that appeared in the San Marcos Record on Mother's Day.... thank you to Mr. Jerry Hall, who is one of God's angels on earth; he's always looking out for others and making sure they have something to smile about every day!
So privileged to be guiding an enthusiastic group of friends and birders from the Wimberley Birding Society in this #1 birding hotspot in Texas. This is THE place to be during Spring migration, in my opinion, in the country. I have been here scouting since April 18 and the birding has been fantastic! I think we will easily see all of the target birds, and more, on this trip. Phone and internet service here are sparse, if available at all. Surrounding towns nearby, like Winnie and Galveston, have service but I am staying in the heart of High Island at the sole motel in town, the Gulf Way hotel, so will not have internet at my days end. I have been staying here every year for at least the past 12 years, and it has become my High Island home! I will try to post trip details as often as possible, but most likely this will be done at the end of trip on May 26. Stay tuned! Click here for the story on High Island.
So what's the best thing for one to do on Tax Day? Look for birds in the WBS Birding Classic, of course! A group of 17 intrepid birders, of all stages of expertise, met at the Patsy Glenn Refuge at 7:45am eager to canvass the birding hotspots of Wimberley. Under the guidance of David Glenn for the past 16 years, we started our day by dividing up into four teams. My team (Linda, Tom, Fran and myself) called ourselves team "I Don't Give a Hoot". Each team headed out to three designated spots to search for and count species. We birded until 11:00 then met at Milagro's restaurant for lunch and to compare numbers... in the end, team "I Don't Give a Hoot" tracked down the largest number of species at 88.... our best bird of the day was the Golden-Cheeked Warbler. We are the proud holders of the coveted WBS Champoin Trophy until next years Classic when we pass it on to the new winners.... Yes, it is a "Champoin" trophy..... it was accidentally mis-spelled and the decision was made at the first Classic in 1999 to just keep it that way because this is a "competition" for fun only..... well, in addition to serving as a compilation of data by David! I was super honored when David gave me a tshirt from the very first Classic dated March 17, 1999. (More details and photos to be added soon....)
BOOM...BOOM...BOOOM! The trip that I guided to the Refuge was a success.... participants were lucky enough to be treated to the sights and sounds of the Attwaters Prairie Chickens. This was a Wimberley Birding Society trip, organized by the very capable Linda Gawkoski..... she arranged for an overnight stay in comfortable hotel rooms and Happy Hour (Margaritas!) and dinner at Cavadores Mexican Restaurant.... tasty food! Early Fri morning, Park Ranger John Magerra led 12 lucky birders out into the field and shared info about the elusive Prairie Chickens. They were spotted up close, not in the far distance, so it was a real treat! After the tour, we birded the grounds and were able to list about 46 species of birds, including many good looks at White Tailed and Swainson's hawks. We then had a very satisfying lunch at Tony's Family Restaurant in Sealy, TX and then got more of our birding fix by returning to the fields of the refuge before heading home. The members of the WBS are a knowledgeable and fun group of real troopers.... I highly recommend membership to anyone interested in Birds, Food & Fellowship!
Tomorrow I have the honor of judging the Poultry Show at the Cherokee County Livestock Show in Jacksonville, Tx... Breeders, Broilers and Showmanship... I love this show; they always have phenomenal entries!
Then on Friday I am leading the Wimberley Birding Society on a trip to the Attwater's Prairie Chicken Nat'l Wildlife Refuge in Eagle Lake, TX... hope to hear some "booming" from the leks! From there I'll head to the Houston Hamfest on Saturday, to join a great crowd of ham radio operators and do some learning and equipment acquiring!
I'm looking forward to a fun evening with the Hays County Master Naturalists class of 2015. They have a very broad spectrum of interesting classes ahead of them on this year's Training Calendar. Tonight they will learn about Texas Weather, along with my presentation on "Hill Country Birds By Sight & Ear".... they will be birding experts by the time we are done! Watch for them to be doing all kinds of great things for nature in the Hill Country!
Feb 15 Having said goodbye to my companions from the Wimberley Birding Society, I now headed off for a week of India on my own. First task was to find and check-in to the Hostel Zostel-Delhi. It was clean, quiet and home for the next six nights. (Bird list and pictures to come soon)
Feb 16 - I had posted on Birding Pal and today got a reply from Anand Arya. He "lives in NOIDA, just near to Okhla Bird Sanctuary and it takes about an hour or so to reach the wetland....not sure where you are staying and whether you can manage to reach NOIDA. But, if you can - may be take the Metro - then you can travel in my jalopy with me. Please call me if interested and then we can fix a day during the week preferably in the afternoon... Probably Wednesday, 18th afternoon." Oh yeah!
Feb 17 - heard from Mr Arya that it is likely bad weather tomorrow. Thursday looks better and will plan accordingly. Okhla should be okay and try it out there tomorrow. We'll do the wetland together on 19th.
Feb 19 - Yep, got a few more lifers today. Up to 828 total, and 314 for the trip! Bringing home lots of tea.
Feb 20 PM - Leaving for airport.... Leave Delhi, Sat Feb 21 at 3:30am
Leave Amsterdam, Sat Feb21 at 10:05am
Arrive Houston, Sat Feb 21 at 1:35pm
Feb 13 Nat'l Chambal Sanctuary - Agra - Bharatpur
After early breakfast we took a 10km bus drive to the Chambal River, and saw lots of working camels along the way. We enjoyed a five hour river safari... there are 8 species of turtle and Fish-eating crocodiles here, as well as the Gangetic Dolphin. After lunch, a 2.5 hr drive to Bharatpur where we stayed at the comfortable Kadam Kunj.
Feb 14 birded the heronries and Keoladeo Nat'l Park by rickshaw because motorized vehicles are not allowed in the Park. We had a box lunch from the hotel.
Feb 15 More morning birding in Keoladeo and then after lunch a 6 hr drive back to Delhi where I'll say goodbye to members of my group who are heading back to Texas. Jim Rodgers did a great job of putting together this trip!
Yep, everyone else is waiting at the airport now. Got a cab and found the hostel with no problems (besides all the crazy drivers...mine included). The room is great, there is hot water, the wifi works, and it is surprisingly quiet. So far I'm up to 814 lifers, and 299 total species seen on the trip! I've seen wild tigers, crocodiles, elephants, monkeys, and a ton more!
Oh monkeys... rhesus macaques and gray langurs EVERYWHERE.
I'm in the middle of chaos, no idea how anyone finds anything in this city.
Feb 12 Morning drive to Agra (4 hrs) along a 6-lane highway to visit Taj Mahal and Red Fort with guide. A monkey even got into the Taj and caused a ruckus. After lunch a drive to Nat't Chambal Sanctuary... a great destination for birding! Afternoon and evening birding brought ( list birds) and spent night at Chambal Safari Lodge. Went out and found a little civet cat. This is a Riverine eco-system and Chambal is supposedly one of the cleanest rivers in India.
So far I've seen over 200 new birds, 2 tigers, the Himalayas, and the trip is only halfway over. India is a pretty cool place!
Only about 7000 pics so far thanks to my "machine gun camera" as my guide calls it. Awful internet here, so they won't be up til I get back.
Two more days, Feb 4-5 at Pangot, Baggar, Timla Pani, Cheena Peak & Nainital. Birding walks produced (birds to be listed), bringing my India species number to (add).
It was really, really cold in Pangot, no hot water and very primitive lodging, but the food was really good!
Feb 6, 6:30AM headed by bus to Sat Tal, and dropped about 3,000 feet lower, so it's warmer here. Lots of rugged hiking. Then a 3 hr bus ride to Tiger Camp, where we walked to the waterfall. The birds here were fantastic. Saw my first in-the-wild elephants as we came back into camp. The rooms here are great and we have hot water!
Feb 7 Tiger Camp - Went out today in open jeeps and saw lots of elephants. Went into the town of Ramnagar and saw an Indian wedding, goats, motorcycles....chaos! No tigers....
Feb 8 Tiger Camp - Lots of strange foods: began achari, halwa, kheer.... and for me, everything masala or spicy! No tigers.... Saw my 700th lifer - happy to say it's a Red Jungle Fowl!
Feb 9 Tiger Camp - 6:15 AM, out in open jeeps to a Hindu Temple....saw lots of evidence of tigers, but no tigers. Back out after lunch... YES! Saw two tigers! Cool.....
Feb 10 Tiger Camp - Back to the Temple... sad to have last day in Tiger Camp.
Feb 11 In the morning we birded along a stream, then packed to leave for Delhi. After lunch, another a 6-7 hour drive back to Delhi... it was very slow driving because of all the people, monkeys, elephants, etc. Saw smoke in a few places and learned that they were funerals. Arrived Delhi around 7:30PM and the Hotel Vikram overnight.
Flew from Houston to Amsterdam to New Delhi via Dutch KLM airlines, checked into the hotel Vikram on Feb 1 for some post-flight rest. Woke up to the blaring sounds of the street... nothing like the quiet of the Texas Hill Country! Had a great Indian breakfast buffet then birded around the hotel...got 11 lifers. Then walked to the market w/the others in my group from the Wimberley Birding Society . Tuk tuks and people every where!
Feb 2 Mr. Singh, our guide, took us to see Humayan's Tomb and then the Qutub Complex, Lotus Temple, India Gate and Cottage Industry. Internet too slow to post pictures...will add them once home.
Feb 3 6AM, we took a road drive on one of the world's more spectacular mountain roads up into the Kumaon Hills to the "lake city" of Pangot. Afternoon birding provided (bird list to be added) and then an overnight stay at the Jungle Lore Birding Lodge. Had unbelievable views of the Himalayas, but relatively no Internet or hot water.
With Spring right around the corner.... I have to think that way in the midst of freezing temps outside right now!.... it is time to start thinking about scheduling bird surveys. I will do these as a requirement for your Wildlife Tax valuations or just to satisfy your curiosity as to what bird species are on your property. I do surveys within Hays County, Tx or in close proximity. Additional fees apply if location is farther than 20 miles from Wimberley. First come, first served!
Mama Hen's Blog
The rooster may crow, but the Hen rules the roost!