07 November 2009

Friday at the Wetlands

Yesterday's butterfly list wasn't too bad for a breezy day, nor was the bird list bad at all. In fact, the water was low enough that there were shorebirds among the ducks! The photos below indicate water levels and a team of birders in wader garb... whilst scanning the mud flats, we noticed an American White Pelican by itself, wings limp and head back. I ran back to the office and was graciously outfitted with waders by Nora, the site coordinator. Matt even volunteered to schlep into the mire with me to investigate the unresponsive pelican.

In the photo below (L), you can barely see a lump of pelican out on the flat. Once back on the trail, we examined the critter - no external signs of injury, nothing broken or tangled. It's a relief to see that the critter was not apparently suffering at the end, nor did we have to wrestle a stressed and injured bird out of the muck.

Unfortunately, there's not much to offer in terms of scale. This Osprey is about as close as I can get for now. (It's a collision bird from Abilene, I tried to pick the least graphic photo.) The pelican's feet more than covered my palm and the beak/head length was about from my elbow almost to fingertips.

DISCLAIMER: State and federal permits are required to handle/move/possess native bird species per the International Migratory Bird Treaty Act. I have the appropriate permits. If you're interested in "saving" a dead bird, it needs to be done through a permitted entity (most large colleges, natural history museums, etc).

Until next time, here's a lovely mystery spider:

EDIT: here's the bird portion of the post!

L. Waco Wetlands 6 Nov. 09, Ross' Goose, American Bittern and Avocet

Location: Lake Waco Wetlands
Date: 06 Nov 09
Time: 0845-1230

Notes: ROSS' GOOSE, 1, seen flying overhead for a little over 5 minutes. We'll gladly submit an RBA if needed.
Plegadis spp Ibis, 11, assumed White-faced. Water level extremely low, exposing expanses of mud; and shorebird species presence responded.
CRESTED CARACARA, 2, soared over northern portion.
Vacated the area heading north.

Full species list in order of encounter:

American White Pelican, 45
Eastern Phoebe
American Crow
Carolina Chickadee
Belted Kingfisher
Red-tailed Hawk, 2
Killdeer, many
Neotropic Cormorant, 12, pretty much all sporting breeding plumage
White-throated Sparrow
Lincoln Sparrow
Swamp Sparrow
Marsh Wren
Great Egret
Double-crested Cormorant
American Coot, 100's
Turkey Vulture
Pied-billed Grebe
Plegadis spp. ibis, 11
Ring-billed Gull
Great Blue Heron
Northern Cardinal
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Brown-headed Cowbird
European Startling
Red-winged Blackbird
Common Yellowthroat
American Bittern, 1
Black Vulture
Ross' Goose, 1
Greater Yellowlegs, 6
Northern Shoverler
American Avocet, 1
Northern Pintail, 50+
Lincoln Sparrow, 2
Crested Caracara, 2
Cooper's Hawk, 1 adult
Blue-winged Teal
Green-winged Teal
Long-billed Dowitcher, FOS, 24
Vesper Sparrow
American Widgeon
Tufted Titmouse
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Yellow-rumped Warblers(Myrtle), we didn't work too hard drawing out all
the small chips or we would have listed more of the usual suspects
listed in previous weeks
Blue-grey Gnatcatcher


Whew, it's definitely not summer anymore and birds are on the move! The Ross's Goose was a peculiar little fellow. We were watching an aerial tower of pelicans slooowly shifting and circling (it felt like home) when a tiny, flapping, gull-sized, black-and-white figure cut through the formation. It was lucky to be Mallard sized, with a very round head and barely a beak to speak of... hence, a Ross's Goose. A Snow Goose would have been expected, but the size and profile would have been significantly larger. In typical "good bird" fashion, the Ross's never slowed nor stopped. C'est la vie.

I'm done with this post now, I promise =)


  1. I assume you guys probably have the spider down to the genus Argiope, and I'd bet bug guide or one of the university ent sites would have good photos that you could match it up with.

  2. Kelly, we've been wondering why nobody ever comments on our posts - now we know! If we misidentify things or flat out ignore them, we're sure to get a response ;-) I had assumed it was an orb weaver of sorts (not my lovely coastal Goldens *sigh*) but threw the post up to keep things current and then got distracted. Good to know that you've got faith in us!

  3. Argiope trifasciata

    Kelly, good to hear from you. I hope all is well with Jones the Younger.