Saturday, January 03, 2009

My Birding in 2008

My primary birding focus for 2008 was to get to know local sites better, and I did pretty well with this. In the early part of the year I fitted in numerous short, usually productive trips to the Longenbaugh Road area of the Katy Prairie. Throughout the year, except in the summer, I managed to do regular birding walks around the CyFair college campus where I work. As a result, I saw lots of species and have built up a good picture of which species appear where and when.

One of hundreds of Cedar Waxwings at CyFair in March

Red-tailed Hawk at CyFair
Birdwatching in our yards was as much of a delight as ever. Apart from all of our usual birds, this year the yards attracted two new species: a Yellow-breasted Chat and some Nutmeg Mannikins.

Nutmeg Mannikin in our yard

A little further afield, Dee and I made several very enjoyable birding trips to other Upper Texas Coast wildlife sites. Of these, the most exciting by far was a weekend in the Anahuac/High Island area in early May, during spring migration.

The rookery at High Island in May

The birding highlight of the late summer was supposed to be several days at Surfside with my daughter, her partner and our first grandchild. Although Hurricane Ike intervened to cut short the trip, we still got to do some good birdwatching at Brazoria, Surfside and Bolivar. (Unfortunately, several of our favorite birding sites were devastated by Ike and will take a very long time to recover.)

Black-bellied Plover on Surfside beach

Several business and family-related trips outside Texas were less productive for birds. A few days in London and Cambridge in March turned up plenty of birds but later trips to Mexico City and New Orleans were largely bird-free.

Tufted Duck in London

A day spent in the Denver area during the summer was also disappointing for birds, although the scenery certainly made the day worthwhile.

Swainson's Hawk in Denver

Roxborough Park near Denver

The highlight of the year was definitely our December trip to Marathon and Big Bend National Park. Birding was excellent at both places and the park scenery was absolutely breathtaking.

Chisos Basin in Big Bend

Canyon Towhee in Big Bend

My US species total for the year was 245, much higher than I managed in any previous year. I also added a dozen species to my US/Canada life list, which now stands at 421.

Other Sightings
The year was good for other wildlife, too. Among the animals we saw were numerous alligators, javelinas and deer, plus armadillo, possum and coyote.

Alligator at Brazos Bend State Park

Coyote at Brazoria NWR


Birdwoman said...

Excellent post! Congratulations on a very successful year of birding and of beautifully recording your experience with the camera.

And about that Cedar Waxwing - I still haven't seen any in my neighborhood this winter.

Jeff said...

I've been keeping an eye out for Waxwings since Christmas but haven't yet seen any. No doubt they'll turn up in numbers soon.

Isaac said...

That coyote is looking pretty sad.

Jeff said...

Hi, Isaac.
I wonder if it survived the hurricane. Brazoria was swept by 8 feet of water during Ike.