EWBC Kingfisher Report

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

New Additions at the Wetlands

Nesting season is upon us and the air is filled with parents busily flying back and forth from nest to feed hungry little mouths. Hungry mouths to feed include baby Northern Mockingbirds, Curve-billed Thrashers, Mourning Doves, Inca Doves, Least Terns, Killdeer, Green Herons and a few more species. It can get tricky trying to get pictures of baby birds without disturbing the nests, but luckily some our visitors have BIG camera lenses. This hedge of Green Herons was photographed on Saturday, June 14th.

- Javier de Leon, Naturalist
Edinburg Scenic Wetlands

Saturday, May 10, 2008

"Edinburg Kingfishers" Place 2nd in GTBC 2008

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

Friday, February 08, 2008

Pelicans drop by for a visit. Wood Duck stays for the winter.

It's been a quite a while since the last blog entry. EWBC has seen many visitors, events, and birds since November. The 5th Grade Wetlands Program is still in full swing, and our Winter Texans are still pouring in to our center to get great looks at a variety of birds (average of 55 species seen every day). Our American White Pelicans did finally make an appearance at EWBC in mid-December, but did not stay for long. A large group came in to the North and South ponds throughout January, but did not stay for any longer than three or four days. Perhaps there are more places for these pelicans to looks for fish this year than in years past.

There are two birds that have stayed longer than expected. A beautiful drake Wood Duck that is listed as a "rare" winter visitor has been seen regularly since the last week in December. I really shouldn't say "regularly." This duck has made it a habit to appear for two or three days in a row, then not appear at all for another three days. Just when we think this duck has moved on from our site, it reappears for thirty minutes in the North Pond not to be seen again for another day or so. This duck has eluded many a birder! Frustrating as this little guy may be, we are VERY glad to have him stick around for so long.

The other bird who has decided to stay for a while on our grounds is a striking adult Audubon's Oriole. An Audubon's Oriole was first seen just east of the visitor's center in late December. This bird was seen over two days, but was not seen after that. Another sighting of an Audubon's Oriole did not occur until mid-January. This second bird has been seen almost every day for almost a month now. I won't venture to say that both sightings are of the same bird, but it may be a possibility.

But alas! winter is slowly coming to an end as evidenced by the appearance of Ruby-throated Hummingbirds coming to the hummingbird feeders around the center. We shall see what new birds are seen during this years spring migration.

Till then!


Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Marsh Madness!!

Busy week at the Edinburg Scenic Wetlands! Lot of visitors, both human and non-human, have stopped by in the past couple of days. As far as humans go, bird watchers and photographers from all over the country have descended upon the valley to attend the 14th anual Rio Grande Valley Bird Festival (http://www.rgvbirdfest.com) that is taking place this weekend in Harlingen. The staff and I always enjoy talking to festival goers. Visitors get to hear about recent bird sightings and we (mostly our Senior Secretary Loni and I) get to ask people from parts beyond the valley about birds we never get down here (like Gray Jays and Magpies and such). Many juvenile humans (5th graders) have been dropping by as well. The 5th Grade Wetlands Program is in full swing. Every week a couple hundred 5th graders spend their mornings out here as they learn about wetlands. This week is no exception.

Monarchs and migratory birds have been gracing our garden and wetlands for a while now, but things seems to have picked up this week. Monarchs have been passing through our gardens since late September, but more seem to be alighting on our blooming Crucitas (Eupatorium odoratum) since last week. We also got a pretty uncommon butterfly in our garden on Saturday. A Horace's Duskywing was spotted on Saturday during our annual Monarch Migration Celebration. New park record? YES.

Of course, migratory birds are everywhere! Nashville Warblers are being seen feeding on Goldenrod seeds. Orange-crowned Warblers, Common Yellowthroats, Lincoln's Sparrows, and waterfowl such as Northern Shovelers and Ruddy Ducks are being seen regularly. However, the White Pelicans seem to be late. Ebird reports of our site from previous years shows that our wintering White Pelicans show up as early as mid-October. Guess we'll have to wait for them a little longer this year.

That's all for now. Next update: "Pelicans arrive!"

-Javier de Leon, Interpretive Naturalist

Monday, October 08, 2007

Meet the new Naturalist

Hello everyone! I am Javier de Leon, the new naturalist at the Edinburg Scenic Wetlands and World Birding Center. Although I have just been hired to work at EWBC, I have been volunteering at this center's special events for the past two or three years. I always had fun working with the staff, and seeing and hearing all the wildlife in the park made every trip out here a real treat. Now that I work here at EWBC I am able to teach visitors wonderful things about the birds, butterflies and dragonflies as we observe them in the park's wetlands or in our beautiful gardens.

My interest in plants and animals began while growing up in Harlingen, Texas. Family trips to Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge sparked my curiosity about how plants and animals could survive without going to the store to buy food (I was VERY young when I started asking myself these questions). During a subsequent trip to the same park a year or so later I had a short conversation with a real "park ranger". This conversation, which consisted mostly of me asking too many questions, resulted in the beginning of my interest in wildlife. Much of my childhood was spent outside collecting bugs and looking at all the different birds that would visit my parents birdbath.

Twenty years later, my favorite thing to do is still going outside to look at the wonderful creatures that are all around us . It's a little odd being the person that answers all the questions that kids ask, but I hope to spark their interest and awareness of the outdoors in them as well.

- Javier

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Hip, Hip Horray for the Edinburg Eagle Eyes!

On April 21, 2007, members of the EWBC's Kid's Birding Club competed this years Texas Great Birding Classics' Roughwing Competition. Our team, "The Edinburg Eagle Eyes" had a wonderful time participating in this great event. We explored five fabulous birding sites, including the crystal covered shores of La Sal del Rey and the beautiful South Padre Island. At the end of the competition, our members Rebecca and Terry Sova, Katherine and Lauren Brough, and David Tovar successfully spotted and identified 67 bird species. Great job kids!

As team leader for the Edinburg Eagle Eyes, I want to send a heart-felt thank you to the City of Edinburg, Estero Llano Grande, and the Valley Nature Center for their generous support. Thank you guys!

For those of you interested in participating in next year's Roughwing Competition, please join us for our next Kid's Birding Club Meeting. Call EWBC at (956)381-9922 for future dates and time.

~Assalia Belmares

Assalia Belmares

Interpretive Naturalist

Edinburg World Birding Center

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

"Noche Tropical" - Members Appreciation Dinner

The Edinburg Scenic Wetlands and World Birding Center hosted their first annual Member Appreciation Dinner March 15, 2007.

The evenings event was themed, "Noche Tropical" and was organized by EWBC staff in appreciation for their members valuable support and dedication.

The night was filled with delicious tropical foods, tasty fruit beverages, and live entertainment.

These are the photos of the EWBC staff and their valued members as they enjoyed a great tropical evening together.