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
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.
AMERICAN AVOCET, 1
AMERICAN BITTERN, 1
CRESTED CARACARA, 2, soared over northern portion.
Vacated the area heading north.
Full species list in order of encounter:
American White Pelican, 45
Red-tailed Hawk, 2
Neotropic Cormorant, 12, pretty much all sporting breeding plumage
American Coot, 100's
Plegadis spp. ibis, 11
Great Blue Heron
American Bittern, 1
Ross' Goose, 1
Greater Yellowlegs, 6
American Avocet, 1
Northern Pintail, 50+
Lincoln Sparrow, 2
Crested Caracara, 2
Cooper's Hawk, 1 adult
Long-billed Dowitcher, FOS, 24
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
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 =)