It was that time of the year again. After many months of preparation, for team members and chaperones alike, the "Edinburg Kingfishers" were ready to set out to compete against kids from all over the state in the Roughwing division of the 2008 Great Texas Birding Classic. The team, comprised of five members of the Scenic Wetlands' Kid's Birding Club, were ready to quickly locate and identify (with no adult assistance) as many birds as possible during the eight hours allotted for their age division. All the members of the Kingfishers were Classic veterans and they knew what it would take to try and win the contest.
The group started just after 8 am at the Edinburg Scenic Wetlands grounds. The first bird spotted was one of our resident Green Herons. After some initial discussion among the group about how this bird couldn't be a Least Bittern, the group agreed on the ID of the Green Heron and moved on to the ducks, terns, cormorants and grebes usually seen throughout the park. Some birds were dead giveaways like Roseate Spoonbills and Scissor-tailed Flycatchers. Other birds such as Black-chinned and Ruby-throat Hummingbirds took a little more study and patience (quote 21: "why don't they turn around already!?").
After a couple of hours the group headed over to Estero Llano Grande State Park. Birding began as soon as we got out of the van with good looks at Golden-fronted Woodpeckers and White-winged Doves. Other birds picked up here were Black-bellied and Fulvous Whistling Ducks, Mottled Ducks, and many more. Alas! no alligators at Alligator Lake that day, but we some of the group did get to see some pretty big gator tracks!
Time was wearing on and our stomachs let us know it. After a quick stop for lunch, we continued on the South Padre Island for some afternoon birding. Our list didn't look as long as we had hoped but a Warbler bonanza shot up our numbers considerably. Although challenging, the group identified most of the warblers in the trees around the convention center (including Blackburnian and Chestnust-sided Warblers) before a much need Warbler break. A nice walk down the boardwalk and the group finished out their day with a nice group of Black Skimmers.
By the end of they day, the group was beginning to feel the strain of a long day of birding (maybe it was just the adults that felt tired). During dinner the group reviewed the list for the day. Seventy-six species. Not bad! Their list was surpassed by another group from the Houston area, but the Edinburg Kinfishers, parents and chaperones are looking forward to another year of birds and birding.
- Javier de Leon, Naturalist
Edinburg Scenic Wetlands