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All Audubon field trips are free unless otherwise stated, and open to the public. Come join us!

The following trips are scheduled at this time. Please contact Peter Barnes or listed trip contact for additional information and to let them know you are coming. It's helpful to the leader to know how many participants to expect. Plus, you sure don't want them to leave without you!

Things you might want to bring: binoculars, spotting scope, camera, ID books, hat, rain gear, sunscreen, bug spray, water, snacks and/or lunch, WMA Public Use Permit habitat stamp if needed, any entry fees, and boundless enthusiasm.

When birding WMAs during hunting season, be sure to wear "hunter" orange and have a Texas Parks and Wildlife Limited Use Permit (which can be purchased at any store that sells hunting and fishing licenses and can be used at any WMA for one year).

Questions? Directions? Contact Peter Barnes (903-839-8359 or pbarnes123@gmail.com). On field trip days, call Peter at 903-343-3437 if you are lost or have questions.

Field trips - March 2014

Saturday, March 1. Richland Creek WMA for waterfowl and winter visitors. This trip is suitable for beginners. We hope to see 15+ species of ducks and geese and wintering landbirds. We will bird along the road, with minimal walking.

Directions. Richland Creek WMA is in Freestone and Navarro counties, approximately 75 minutes drive from Tyler. The north unit is off Hwy 287, near the junction with FM488, south west of Athens. Drive into the north unit till you get to the entrance station, where we will meet at 7:30 am. Latecomers can call me and meet us deeper in the north unit. Duration of the trip will depend on the birds, and I anticipate being done by the mid-afternoon.

All adults who enter the WMA must have a limited public use permit ($12 per year). These can be purchased where hunting and fishing licenses are sold, e.g. Wal-Mart. There are no food or restroom facilities in the WMA.

Saturday, March 15, 2014. Lake Tawakoni for loons, shorebirds and early spring landbirds. We will meet at 7:30 am at the Van Zandt county boat ramp. From there, we will bird the woods behind the dam, visit the Rains county beach to look for shorebirds, then return to the Holiday Marina to check for gulls and loons. We may check some ponds in Van Zandt county on the way back to Tyler and should be done by the mid-afternoon. There will be minimal walking at the boat ramp and Holiday Marina, and moderate walking (1/2-1 mile at each location) in the woods and on the Rains county beach. There are bathrooms at the Holiday Marina, and food is sometimes available there. Bring food, snacks, drinks, and water. Depending on weather, it can be cool (or cold) and windy near the lake.

PAST FIELD TRIPS?

(see Local Birding for directions)

Saturday, November 16. Richland Creek WMA for waterfowl and winter visitors. We anticipated seeing 10-15 species of ducks and geese plus wintering landbirds.

Saturday, September 7.- Texas Eastman Mason Lake (Iron Bridge) for waders, shorebirds, waterfowl and migrants.   We will look for waders (egrets, herons, ibis, spoonbills) along with returning waterfowl, migrating shorebirds (sandpipers, plovers) and migrating land birds that are passing through.

Saturday, September 21. Lake Bob Sandlin. We will look for migrants and resident landbirds at the state park and scan the lake for waterbirds.

Saturday, September 28.  Hawk Watch at Daingerfield State Park.  This trip is suitable for beginners through experienced birders.  We will watch the skies for migrating hawks and accipiters while enjoying the newly renovated facilities at the Daingerfield State Park.

Saturday, February 16, 2013. Sabine Mine for waterfowl.We have an opportunity to bird an area that is normally off limits to the public and is owned by the Sabine Mining Company. There is habitat for waterfowl and wintering grassland birds. (Cancelled).

Saturday, February 2, 2013. Lake Tawakoni for loons, gulls and longspurs. Richard Kinney will lead this trip to look for loons, ducks, gulls and longspurs at the Van Zandt county boat ramp, the Holiday Marina, Lake Tawakoni State Park and other locations around the lake.

Judy and Ethan at Pleasure Acres Photo Blind

Saturday, January 26, 2013. Pleasure Acres Lake and Lake Tyler East. We will start at the ponds by Pleasure Acres Lake, looking for wintering waterfowl, sparrows, wrens and other passerines. After this, we will go to Lake Tyler East to check for ducks. The adventurous can also join us for a tromp through the woods to look for American Woodcock that Mike Bloodsworth has found there.

Saturday, December 8, 2012. Trinidad. The power plant lake in Trinidad is good for ducks and lingering shorebirds, and the surrounding farmlands should have a good variety of raptors, including Crested Caracara, Northern Harrier and “Harlan’s” Red-tailed Hawk. Rarities such as Ferruginous Hawk are possible.

Saturday, December 29. Lake Tyler and areas around Whitehouse. We will meet at the Lake Tyler concession area to see if there are any ducks, loons or raptors, such as Osprey and Bald Eagle, wintering finches and woodpeckers.

Saturday, November 17, 2012. Texas Freshwater Fisheries and Lake Athens.Jim Booker will be leading this field trip. We will start at the at the Lake Athens boat ramp at 7:30.

Saturday, October 20, 2012. Pleasure Acres Lake and other Tyler locations. We will start at the ponds by Pleasure Acres Lake, looking for late migrants and wintering sparrows, wrens and other passerines. After this, we will either check out Lake Tyler East and the Old Jamestown Rd swamp, both east of Tyler, or we will visit Camp Tyler, which is on the western shore of Lake Tyler, southeast of Tyler.

Saturday, October 6th. Lake of the Pines. We will start at Lakeside Park (West Abutment Recreational Area, Jefferson, if you look on MapQuest) and look for shorebirds, waterfowl and passerine migrants.

Saturday, September 22, 2011.  Hawk Watch at Daingerfield State Park.  We will watch the skies for migrating hawks and accipiters while enjoying the newly renovated facilities at the Daingerfield State Park.

Saturday, September 15. Trinidad and Cedar Creek Lake.

Directions. Our first stop will be the Trinidad power plant lake. After that, we will visit the Trinidad City Lake and drive up the east side of Cedar Creek Lake and look for waterbirds and shorebirds.

Saturday, September 8 7:30 AM --Alazan Wildlife Management Area (just South of Nacogdoches).

Directions to Alazan WMA can be found on the PAS website

Saturday, September 8 -- Texas Eastman Mason Lake (Iron Bridge) for waders, shorebirds, waterfowl and migrants.  NOTE – this is an evening trip and takes the place of the September NETFO meeting.  This trip is suitable for beginners through experienced birders.   We will look for waders (egrets, herons, ibis, spoonbills) along with returning waterfowl, migrating shorebirds (sandpipers, plovers) and migrating land birds that are passing through. 

Canopy Tower trip (Panama) - July 23-30, 2012

April 27-30. Weekend trip to upper Texas coast trip for migrants. This will be similar to the mid-April trip, but is more flexible.

April 21 Mineola Nature Preserve for migrants and breeding birds. The preserve has ponds, riparian habitat and fields that attract a variety of birds. There should be breeding Prothonotary, Kentucky and Swainson’s Warblers, and Northern Parulas, as well as Blue Grosbeaks, Lark Sparrows and Indigo Buntings. We will also look for migrant warblers. The nearly Mineola water treatment ponds can have shorebirds if water levels are appropriate.

April 13-15. Weekend trip to upper Texas coast. High Island, Sabine Woods, Anahuac NWR and the Bolivar peninsula attract an incredible number and variety of migrant passerines, shorebirds and waterbirds in April. There should be up to 30 different shorebird species, as well as landbird migrants and breeding birds, including Baltimore and Orchard Orioles, Scarlet Tanagers, Rose-breasted and Blue Grosbeaks, Indigo and Painted Buntings. The warblers that pass through earlier (Blue-winged, Prothonotary, Yellow-throated, Hooded, Swainson’s, Kentucky, Ovenbird, waterthrushes, etc.) should be present, if weather conditions are favorable (north winds, preferably with rain).

December 10. Pineywoods Audubon Society field trip to Alazan Bayou WMA campground for sparrows. Leader: David Wolf. Meet at the Experimental Forest entrance gate at 7 AM. Directions to the Experimental Forest are posted on the PAS website. Sparrows are an important part of our winter birdlife, but we all need to review them annually, so they will be the focus of this field trip. Alazan Bayou always has good numbers and a variety of them, so let's get out and practice before the Christmas Bird Counts.

November 9-16. Rio Grande Birding Festival. We will travel to Harlingen, Texas and sign up for trips to various parts of the Lower Rio Grande Valley. There are trips for beginners, photographers and those who want to add south Texas specialties to their Texas list. We will be staying at the Alamo Inn in Alamo Texas before returning via Falcon State Park and Rockport Texas.

Saturday, Oct 29, 2011. Bellwood Lake and Lake Palestine We will look for wintering landbirds at Bellwood Lake, then drive to the northeast tip of Lake Palestine, just south of Chandler, to look for duck, shorebirds and grassland birds.

Saturday, Sep 24, 2011. Hawk Watch at Daingerfield State Park.  We searched for migrating raptors while enjoying the newly renovated facilities at the Daingerfield State Park. 

Saturday, Sep 17, 2011. John Bunker Sands Wetland Center. This location has extensive wetlands. We saw ducks and geese, as well as wintering shorebirds. Driving is not allowed, so we walked paths and boardwalks.

Saturday, Sep 3, 2011. Texas Eastman in Longview. We looked for waders (egrets, herons, ibis, spoonbills), migrating shorebirds (sandpipers, plovers) and migrating land birds.  Mark Edmund lead this trip

Saturday, May 21. Sabine Mining company bird survey and field trip. We visited the Sabine Mining Company. There were a variety of habitats present, and good numbers of breeding birds with some late migrants. Four of us conducted a breeding bird survey. The survey involve stopping at 10-20 different locations, and looking and listening for birds for exactly 3 minutes. If we heard anything interesting, we could spend time looking for it after the survey period.

Saturday, May 5, 2011. Lake Tyler and Camp Tyler. for shorebirds, spring migrants and breeding landbirds. This trip is suitable for beginners. We will look for sandpipers, plovers and other shorebirds. B

Saturday, April 16, 2011. Texas Eastman in Longview for shorebirds, spring migrants and breeding landbirds. This trip is suitable for beginners. We will look for sandpipers, plovers and other shorebirds. Breeding birds such as Prothonotary, Yellow-throated and Kentucky Warblers, Yellow-throated Vireos, Indigo Buntings and Blue Grosbeaks, should have arrived, and migrants will be passing through

Saturday, April 2, 2011. Lake Bob Sandlin in Titus County for shorebirds, ducks and other waterbirds. This trip is suitable for beginners.

Saturday, March 26, 2011. Tyler State Park.

Saturday, March 5, 2011. Meet at the Lake Tyler Concession Area and check for diving ducks and loons here, check a couple of ponds in Whitehouse for dabblers, then go the section of Lake Tyler near Camp Tyler, perhaps including a brief visit to the camp to see if bird activity is good.

Sunday, February 20, 2011. Lake Fork for eagles, loons, gulls, ducks and other waterbirds. Ron and Janet Cook will lead the trip, which is good for beginners to see winter landbirds and ducks. We will have a chance to look for land birds on a private ranch first, then bird around several places on Lake Fork.

February 8, 2011. Red Slough NWR, Oklahoma, for wintering waterfowl, sparrows, wrens and other birds. This is a 5,814 acre wetland to restore hydrology and re-establish bottomland hardwoods. David Arbour, an excellent birder with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, will guide this trip, which is suitable for beginners and experienced birders. We will drive some, but will walk to reach some of the observation platforms. Be prepared for soggy or boggy ground.

January 29, 2010. LeTourneau Bottoms. Mark Edmunds leads this trip, which will visit good habitat for wintering sparrows, wrens, and waterfowl and is suitable for beginners.  Depending on the weather, we may be able to drive over most of the area but you should be prepared to walk some.

January 15, 2011.  Lake Wright Patman.  Mike Dillon will lead this trip to look for waterfowl and wintering landbirds at several locations around the lake, birding in Cass and Bowie counties.

December 11. Paris and Lamar County. This area has several lakes and marshes that hold a wide variety of waterfowl and wintering landbirds. We will visit the Gambil Wildlife Refuge, Crook Lake and Pat Mayse Lake. This trip is great for beginners who want to learn their ducks and geese.

November 10-14. Rio Grande Birding Festival. We will travel to Harlingen, Texas and sign up for trips to various parts of the Lower Rio Grande Valley. There are trips for beginners, photographers and those who want to add south Texas specialties to their Texas list. Texas specialties: Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl, Ringed and Green Kingfishers, White-tipped and Common Ground Doves, Green Jay, Red-billed Pigeon, Greater Kiskadee, Tropical and Couch's Kingbird, Clay-colored Robin, Curve-billed and Long-billed Thrasher, Altamira, Audubon and Hooded Orioles, and more.

November 6. Pleasant Hill area. We willlook for late passerine migrants, raptors, wintering sparrows and arriving waterfowl. This is an excellent trip for beginners. Linda Price will lead this field trip.

October 23. Camp Tyler for wintering sparrows, woodpeckers and other landbirds . Excellent for beginners. This is an easy walk of approximately 1 mile. We will bird for 2-3 hours.Saturday, October 2.

Mineola Nature Preserve for fall migrants and wintering birds. The preserve has ponds, riparian habitat and fields that attract a variety of birds. We will look for migrant flycatchers, warblers and other land birds, as well as arriving ducks and flyover geese. The nearly Mineola water treatment ponds can have shorebirds and ducks if water levels are appropriate.

September 25. Texas Eastman in Longview for shorebirds and early waterfowl. Mark Edmund will lead this trip.

September 18. Richland Creek WMA for large wading birds, early waterfowl and passerine migrants. This trip is suitable for beginners.

Saturday, April 17. Mineola Preserve for migrants and breeding birds. The preserve has ponds, riparian habitat and fields that attract a variety of birds. There should be breeding Prothonotary, Kentucky and Swainson's Warblers, and Northern Parulas , as well as Blue Grosbeaks, Lark Sparrows and Indigo Buntings. We will also look for migrant warblers. The nearly Mineola water treatment ponds can have shorebirds if water levels are appropriate.

Late April Upper Texas Coast for migrants. High Island , Sabine Woods, Anahuac NWR and the Bolivar peninsula attract an incredible number and variety of migrant passerines, shorebirds and waterbirds in the second half of April. Passerine migrant numbers are highly weather-dependent, and best during or immediately after the passage of north winds that prevent birds from travelling further inland.

Tyler State Park bird walks. Boyd Sanders is leading bird walks at Tyler State Park on April 3, 17 and 24. Walks begin at the park headquarters (entrance station) at 8:30 am and last approximately 2 hours. They are followed by a Birding 101 program at 10:30 at the Brown's Point Fishing Pier.

April 3. Morris County Bottomland/ Lake O' the Pines for early breeding birds and migrants. We will bird an area near the north-west corner of Lake O' the Pines and Lone Star, where there are bottomlands, pine forest and open fields. We will look for breeding Northern Parula , Prothonotary and Yellow-throated Warblers, Red-headed Woodpeckers, Barred Owls and other bottomland species, as well as lingering waterfowl, loons and grebes.

March 19-23. Coastal birding trip to Fort Bend, Brazoria, Matagorda and Calhoun counties. We will bird Brazos Bend State Park southwest of Houston on Saturday morning, then drive to the coast and bird the marshes and beaches along Follett Island, just west of Galveston, and Brazoria NWR if time permits. On Sunday, we will revisit Brazoria NWR, then drive approximately 120 miles to Port Lavaca, stopping along the way in Matagorda County to look for shorebirds and raptors. On Monday, we will bird the ricefields, migrant traps and coast of Calhoun County. On Tuesday, we will make the 6-7 hr drive back to Tyler, stopping west of Houston in the Katy Prairie and perhaps east of Houston at the Baytown Nature Center.

Birds we hope to see that are hard to find in north-east Texas include Northern Gannet, Brown Pelican, Magnificent Frigatebird, Fulvous Whistling Duck, Mottled Duck, Surf Scoter, Reddish Egret, Roseate Spoonbill, Least Bittern, White-tailed Kite, White-tailed Hawk, Crested Caracara, Sandhill Crane, Clapper and King Rails, numerous shorebirds, Laughing Gull, Royal, Sandwich and Gull-billed Tern, Black Skimmer, Cave Swallow, Nelson's Sharp-tailed and Seaside Sparrows, and Boat-tailed Grackles

March 6. Lake Bob Sandlin for wintering landbirds at the state park and scan the lake for waterbirds. We will drive to the dam, and scan the lake for waterbirds, and check the fields and reedbeds for sparrows, rails and raptors.

February 28. Lake Fork for eagles, loons, gulls, ducks and other waterbirds. Ron and Janet Cook and Jay Heppner will lead the trip. We will watch for raptors flying toward the dam in the early
morning, visit the Sabine River Authority property at the west end of the dam, and then drive to several lake viewing areas. There are restrooms at the marinas.

February 20. Camp Tyler for wintering LeConte’s and other sparrows, woodpeckers and other landbirds
We also checked nearby Lake Tyler for wintering ducks.

Feb 7, 2010. John Bunker Sands Wetlands Center with Dallas Audubon Capter for waterfowl, large wading birds & shorebirds This location has extensive wetlands and is not yet open to the public. We should see thousands of ducks and geese, as well as wintering shorebirds. We will drive through the wetlands, and there will be minimal walking. There are no restroom facilities at the wetlands center, so come prepared.

January 30. Hagerman NWR hosts thousands of waterfowl in the winter, and the fields and forested areas hold a good variety of wintering birds. This is a field trip that is organized by Dallas Audubon

January 23. Lake O' the Pines. David Brotherton leads this afternoon trip for those who don't like getting up early. The lake hosts many ducks and loons in winter. We expect to see many diving ducks, including Common Goldeneye and Red-breasted Merganser. Large numbers of ducks come into Alley Creek Park in the late afternoon, and we may try for American Woodcock if suitable habitat is found.

January 16. Faulkner Park. We will check this local park out for wintering landbirds and the Barred Owl that has been roosting there during the day throughout December.

December 26, 2009. Lake O' the Pines Christmas Bird Count. Contact David Brotherton ( lubrothert@yahoo.com ) if you would like to participate.

December 19, 2009. Tyler Christmas Bird Count. Contact Peter Barnes if you would like to participate

December 5, 2009. Lake Tyler and areas around Whitehouse. The Lake Tyler concession area hosts ducks, loons and other waterbirds. We will carpool to other roadside stops in Whitehouse, looking for Harris', White-crowned, Fox and Vesper Sparrows, Eastern Towhees and other wintering birds.

December 5, 2009. Caddo Lake Winter Bird Count . Contact Dorothy Metzler ( dmetzler@rlmgc.net ) if you would like to participate.

November 22, 2009. Lake Murvaul. Peggy Harding will lead this trip to Panola County, looking for ducks, waterbirds and wintering landbirds. We will bird one or more locations at Lake Murvaul and may also visit Martin Creek Lake.

November 14, 2009. Kurth Lake. Louis Debataz will lead this trip to a lake north of Lufkin that hosts a variety of waterbirds. Afterwards, there is the option to visit the Lufkin Museum where some original prints by John James Audubon are on display as part of a travelling exhibit, as well as paintings by Mimi Hoppe Wolf of Nacogdoches

November 7, 2009. Camp Tyler. We will look for wintering sparrows and other landbirds. This is a good opportunity to brush up on identifying birds by sight and sound, prior to next month's Christmas Bird Count.

 

TRIP REPORTS

Find out what birds and wildlife the group saw. Come along on our next outing!! Trip reports are compiled by Peter Barnes.


Field trip reports

(December 2013) Janet and Ron Cook, Ross Rickett and I had a successful run down to the Rio Grande Valley and Central  Coast last week, experiencing the remarkable diversity of birdlife there in winter, as we tallied 192 species, including 25 species of waterfowl, 18 raptors, 25 shorebirds and 8 different wrens. In the Rio Grande Valley, we were fortunate to get good views of Gray Hawk, Aplomado Falcon, Black-throated Gray Warbler, Hooded and Audubon's Orioles, as well as the usual Green Jays, Ringed and Green Kingfishers, Vermilion Flycatchers, and the reliable roosting Common Pauraque at Estero Llano Grande State Park. The Amazon Kingfisher was unfortunately a no-show, and we missed a Muscovy Duck on the Rio Grande when we left for 20 minutes to check out the Salineno feeders. In the fields north of Harlingen, we saw scurrying Mountain Plovers, a perched Peregrine Falcon, and hundreds of geese and dozens of Sandhill Cranes feeding in the fields. At Falcon State Park, we had an out of place Rock Wren coming to the feeders.

We took the boat trip from Rockport to see Whooping Cranes, and saw about 25 of them, as well as staggering numbers of waterfowl (an estimated 6500 Redheads and 1,000 Northern Pintails), good numbers of large wading birds (e.g. 400 White Ibis, 60 Tricolored and 26 Little Blue Herons), and a bonus Lesser Black-backed Gull. After Janet and Ron left, Ross and I birded a little on the central coast, the highlight being the wintering male Long-tailed Duck at Palacios, although the Black and Surf Scoters at Aransas NWR eluded us. 

(26 Jan 2013) It was cold and drizzly, but quite a few people braved the weather to see what birds were around. At Pleasure Acres, there were 100+ sparrows of 7 species, some allowing pretty close approaches, especially to those who camped out in Mike Bloodsworth's photography blind. We also had a Spotted Towhee, two Eastern Towhees, and a Canvasback on the lake. At Lake Tyler East, we had a distant male Common Goldeneye, quite uncommon for Smith County, and a few dabbling ducks. No luck with flushing American Woodcock, but we got a nice look at the lake bed habitat, which should be great for sparrows in better weather. Thanks to Mike Bloodsworth for taking us around.

We had a successful field trip weekend to Fort Hood and Warbler Woods on May 12 and 13. On May 12, we learned that Fort Hood has the largest population of Black-capped Vireos (8000 birds!), of which we saw or heard about 6. We also had a very cooperative singing male Golden-cheeked Warbler, 3 Bell's Vireos and 2 Rufous-crowned Sparrows, heard a Prairie Warbler and Greater Roadrunner, and saw many common summer residents in an impressive amount of habitat, while listening to artillery practice in the distance.

We then drove down to
Warbler Woods and birded there late Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning. The warblers were a bit sparse and we managed just 10 species, mostly of single birds, but it was nice to get Magnolia, Chestnut-sided and Black-throated Green Warblers. We heard Northern Bobwhite, got views of Clay-colored and Grasshopper Sparrows, and Bell's and Philadelphia Vireos.

After the field trip, Ross Rickett and I continued on to the RGV for three days of birding at
Santa Ana NWR, Estero LLano Grande and Resaca de La Palma State Parks and South Padre Island. The undisputed highlight was the South Padre Island Convention Center, where migrants were coming to the water feature and flitting about the small trees, most of which were conveniently at eye level. Great to see warblers without warbler neck. For the entire trip, we tallied 201 species, including 21 warblers, 18 flycatchers and 7 vireos. In the RGV, we had 20+ American Redstarts, 20+ Magnolia, 15+ Yellow, 5+ Chestnut-sided, 2 Blackburian, 1 Bay-breasted, 3 Canada and 2 Mourning Warblers, 3-4 Ovenbirds and a gorgeous male Tropical Parula. When Magnolia Warbler and American Redstart are trash birds, you know you're having a good trip.

A Gray Hawk perched cooperatively atop a palm tree at
Frontera Audubon Thicket, and a Purple Gallinule sat precariously on leaves 2 feet above the water at Estero, which also provided close views of a nesting Least Bittern, a perched Pauraque, and a roosting Eastern Screech Owl. We caught up with the female Rose-breasted Becard building a nest, after spending a day unsuccessfully looking for her on our last trip there in November. Flycatchers were thick, with 15+ Traill's-type flycatchers, a few Least and Acadians, and nice looks at 5+ Yellow-bellied Flycatchers. Other highlights were a Black-billed Cuckoo, half a dozen Groove-billed Anis, 5+ Veeries and 5+ Gray-cheeked Thrushes, a Botteri's Sparrow on the road from Raymondville to Port Mansfield, and 5 Hooded Orioles at the Sarita Rest Stop. This was my first trip to the valley in spring, and I highly recommend including it in your future birding itineraries.

On May 19, Mike Bloodsworth, David Weaver, Mark Edmund and we did our third breeding bird survey at the Sabine Mining Company southwest of Longview. Although we saw no rarities, it was great to bird in extensive grasslands with some forest, and to hear and see good numbers of Northern Bobwhites, Prairie and Prothonotary Warblers, Blue Grosbeaks, Indigo and Painted Buntings, Orchard Orioles and Dickcissels, 2 Gray Catbirds, and single Swainson's Warbler and Grasshopper Sparrow. Four immature Hooded Mergansers were seen, suggesting that this is one of the few places in NE Texas where this species nests. 

Camp Tyler had many singing Orchard Orioles, Painted and Indigo Buntings, and Blue Grosbeaks this morning. There were few warblers: single Blackburnian, Yellow-throated and Kentucky, a Clay-colored Sparrow and a Rose-breasted Grosbeaks. The most interesting bird was what I believe was an immature male Lazuli x Indigo Bunting hybrid. It had blue on the head that was a bit paler than the usual Indigo Bunting, much darker than a Lazuli, a brown back with one bright white and one less distinct wingbar. The back and wings were brown, the breast and underparts were off-white, without the orange of Lazuli.

Rio Grande Birding Festival Nov 9-16, 2011 - We just got back from the Rio Grande Valley yesterday, after 5+ days of birding there. We didn't get any rarities, unlike last year, but saw most of the RGV's characteristic birds and had some superb views of the Valley specialties and impressive numbers of waterfowl and raptors.

Around Riviera, on the way down to the valley, we had hundreds of Sandhill Cranes, Greater White-fronted, Snow and a few Ross' Geese, a Lark Bunting, and killer looks at Cassin's and Grasshopper Sparrow, both uncharacteristically perched on bare dirt by the side of the road. In the late afteroon, we had 130 Red-crowned, 3 Red-lored and 2 Yellow-headed Parrots going to roost in Harlingen.

On South Padre Island, there were 1000+ ducks, with remarkably close views of Redheads, Northern Pintails, American Wigeons and Gadwalls, allowing frame-filling photographs. Reddish Egrets and Roseate Spoonbills were also cooperative, and we got Gull-billed Tern, Snowy and Piping Plovers, Magnolia, Wilson's and Tennessee Warblers, Wood Thrush, and excellent looks at Grasshopper Sparrow and only the second Fox Sparrow ever seen on the island. After much effort, we got great views of a pair of Aplomado Falcons and a White-tailed Hawk on the coastal plain.

A morning at Estero Llano Grande State Park yielded a remarkable 120 Least Grebes and thousands of ducks, including 4 Cinnamon Teal, an American Bittern, 3 Soras, Green Kingfisher, and 4 White-tailed Kites, with two exchanging nesting material in mid-air despite 20-30 mph winds. A roosting Common Pauraque was perched so close to the path that we could have leaned over to touch it, and a roosting Eastern Screech Owl poked its head out of a box. We also had 2 Tropical Kingbirds, an Ovenbird and a Spotted Towhee, but the Rose-throated Becard was a no-show. McAllen had 900 raucous Green Parakeets and one lonely Yellow-Chevroned Parakeet at dusk.

The feeders at Bentsen State Park gave us close up views of Green Jay, Golden-fronted Woodpecker and Clay-colored Thrush, and we had Black Phoebes, Green and Ringed Kingfishers in the park.

Salineno was perhaps the most magical location at daybreak, with hundreds of ducks flying low overhead, while we got scope views of Red-billed Pigeon, Zone-tailed Hawk, Altamira Oriole, Ringed Kingfisher, Clay-colored Thrush, a Bobcat stalking Pied-billed Grebes, and a Wild Turkey. At the feeders, we notched Audubon's, Hooded and Altamira Orioles. At Falcon State Park, we had great views of Greater Roadrunners, Northern Bobwhite and Scaled Quail.

For the trip, we totaled 196 species, including 21 waterfowl, 16 raptors and 23 shorebirds. For added excitement, on the way back, we were surrounded by police cars in Riviera and quizzed about our suspicious behavior. Ask Judy Wright and Dennis Scott to tell you the rest of that story.

Lake Bellwood Lake and Lake Palestine Oct 29, 2011 - Fog hampered our birding today at Bellwood Lake and waterbirds were scarce. Nevertheless, we eked out 5 duck species, including 3 Northern Pintails, had 40 American White Pelicans, and ended up with 9 species of sparrows, including 8 species that came in to give reasonably close views in a spot of brush by Lake Palestine. LeConte's Sparrows were unusually cooperative and posed in the scope next to Savannah Sparrows. 

Hawk Watch at Dangerfield State Park Sep 24, 2011 -

John Bunker Sands Wetland Center Sep 17, 2011 - We had a productive field trip to the John Bunker Sands Wetland Center this morning. There were 7 species of ducks, including an estimated 150 Blue-winged and 20 Green-winged Teal, 20 Northern Pintails and 5 Mottled Ducks. We had 11 species of large waterbirds, with an American Bittern, 5 Wood Storks, 8 White and 5 Plegadis Ibis, 1 Black-crowned Night Heron, about 120 Great Egrets, 1 Tricolored Heron and 4 Little Blue Herons. We heard a Northern Waterthrush, got a glimpse of a Mourning Warbler, and were entertained by an Orange Bishop, a native of Africa that was hanging out with a flock of Red-winged Blackbirds. The weather was relatively cool for most of the morning.

Texas Eastman (Longview) Sep 3, 2011 - We had a great trip to Eastman this morning, the best things being the relatively cool weather and a good mix of migrants. We tallied 64 species, including 2 juvenile Tricolored Herons, 9 Plegadis (probably White-faced) Ibis, 5 Wood Storks, 2 adult Bald Eagles, 1 Mississippi Kite, a juvenile Peregrine Falcon, 6 Buff-breasted Sandpipers, a Bank Swallow and a flurry of approximately 100 Scissor-tailed Flycatchers that carpeted the ponds and mudflats. Dave Wolf also gave us a nice lesson on Dowitcher ID for a very cooperative juvenile Short-billed Dowitcher that posed for scope views and gave a diagnostic call before flying off, Let's hope that this is a good omen for September birding. Thanks to Mark Edmund for organizing and leading the trip.

Lake Sam Rayburn Aug 21 2011 (Tx 103 Bridge) - Leader David Wolf led a field trip for the Pineywoods Audubon to Lake Sam Rayburn today, and several NETFO and Tyler Audubon members tagged along. It was a hot but very productive morning, and we tallied 63 species, including 13 shorebird species. It was amazing to see 85 Buff-breasted Sandpipers on the flats. Other highlights were 27 Roseate Spoonbills, an Osprey, 7 Semipalmated Plovers, 4 Long-billed Dowitchers, at least 12 Upland, 9 Solitary and 3 Baird's Sandpipers, a Black Tern, a Yellow-bellied and 4 Alder Flycatchers.

Lake Sam Rayburn Aug 21 2011 (Tx 147 Bridge) - Leader David Wolf. We spent 6:30 - 10:15 a.m. in the TX 147 area, on yet another extremely hot day (to 105 deg. F) with no hint of moisture in the air.  We then briefly checked the TX 103 crossing of the Angelina (below Marion Ferry) on the way home.  Highlights were a Willet found soon upon our arrival at TX 147; a bold White-faced Ibis that eventually revealed a red iris to confirm the species identification (Glossy Ibis must be considered, though we do not have any area records yet); several small flocks of beautiful Buff-breasted Sandpipers scooting around on the open flats; and a flock of 12 Roseate Spoonbills around a pool at the Angelina arm.

Sabine Mining company bird survey May 21, 2011 - Report not available at this time.

Make Tyler and Camp Tyler May 5, 2011 - With the rain and lightning this morning, I called people to cancel the field trip, but went to the Lake Tyler concession area to make sure that no one was there. Doug Ghrist was parked there, raring to go, so we birded for about 20 minutes in the rain, intending to go home after that. Then a Merlin perched for us, an immature Bald Eagle flew by and the rain stopped. Later, Judy Wright and Dennis Scott joined us and we ended up having a pretty productive morning, despite the cold and wind.

We ended up with 11 duck species, including 35 Bufflehead, a Canvasback, 50 Green-winged and 40 Blue-winged Teal, and the bird of the day, a singularly uncooperative drake Cinnamon Teal at Lake Tyler East, that Mike Bloodsworth found earlier this week.  We had nice looks at swallows flying low and close by at concession area 2, near Lake Tyler, including Tree, Cliff and Barn Swallows, and Purple Martins. 

Texas Eastman (Longview) Apr 16, 2011 - Report not available at this time.

Lake Bob Sandlin Apr 2, 2011 - Six people attended the Lake Bob Sandlin  Field Trip today. We stayed the morning in the areas around the dam in Titus County. We observed 47 listed species, as well, as 3 domestic species.

Tyler State Park Mar 26, 2011 -

Lake Tyler Mar 5, 2011 - With the rain and lightning this morning, I called people to cancel the field trip, but went to the Lake Tyler concession area to make sure that no one was there. Doug Ghrist was parked there, raring to go, so we birded for about 20 minutes in the rain, intending to go home after that. Then a Merlin perched for us, an immature Bald Eagle flew by and the rain stopped. Later, Judy Wright and Dennis Scott joined us and we ended up having a pretty productive morning, despite the cold and wind.

We ended up with 11 duck species, including 35 Bufflehead, a Canvasback, 50 Green-winged and 40 Blue-winged Teal, and the bird of the day, a singularly uncooperative drake Cinnamon Teal at Lake Tyler East, that Mike Bloodsworth found earlier this week.  We had nice looks at swallows flying low and close by at concession area 2, near Lake Tyler, including Tree, Cliff and Barn Swallows, and Purple Martins. 

Lake Fork Feb 20. 2011 - Eleven people went on the field trip yesterday to the west and north parts of Lake Fork, and the surrounding countryside. We had an excellent variety of 13 waterfowl, with good views of most, including 2 Canvasbacks, a Common Goldeneye, 8 Northern Pintails, 36 flyover Black-bellied Whistling Ducks, and other commoner species. Thanks to Janet and Ron Cook for organizing the trip.

Red Slough NWR Feb 8, 2011 - A small group (just 5) enjoyed a good morning of birding at the Red Slough NWR in southeast Oklahoma.  David Arbour, with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, led us on the trip.  The highlight of the trip were a very cooperative American Tree Sparrow and fleeting views of Trumpeter Swans.  We also got to see an otter up close.

LeTourneau Bottoms Jan 29, 2011 - It was a gorgeous day for a visit to LeTourneau Bottoms this morning, where we tallied 62 species. We had 250 ducks of 9 species, including 8 Redheads and 30 American Wigeons, soaring Sharp-shinned and Cooper's Hawks, 4 wren species, 8 sparrows, including telescope views of LeConte's, and numerous Lincoln's, Song and Swamp Sparrows. We spent a lot of time trying to figure out a distant blackbird, which we eventually decided was probably a Rusty and not a Brewer's Blackbird. Thanks to Mark Edmund for organizing the trip.

Lake Wright Patman Jan 15, 2011 - Ten hardy souls braved the cold and 2 hours of drizzle at Lake Wright Patman yesterday. Mike Dillon took us to some of his favorite spots and we saw a good variety of waterfowl, including an impressive but distant flotilla of 38 Hooded Mergansers. There was an endless supply of American White Pelicans, and I got tired of counting after 5000+ birds. The Double-crested Cormorant flights were equally impressive, with at least 11,000 birds. We had a great close-up view of a perched immature Bald Eagle at Atlanta State Park. We tallied at least 63 species during the trip.

Paris/Lamar Co - 12/11/2010 We tallied 86 species at the Gambil Wildlife Refuge, Lake Crook, Pat Mayse Lake and fields around Chicota. We had 15 species of waterfowl, including Cackling, Canada and Snow Geese at the Gambil Refuge, and a Greater Scaup, Canvasback and many other ducks at Lake Crook. We had 9 species of raptors, including a close flyover Bald Eagle at Pat Mayse Lake, 2 male Northern Harriers and a perched Merlin of the pale Prairie race in fields near Chicota. Passerines were not out in force because of the wind, but we did get 11 sparrow species, including point-blank looks at multiple LeConte's Sparrows and one less cooperative Grasshopper Sparrow at Lake Gibbons, and scope views of Harris' and White-crowned Sparrows. It was also nice to get flocks of Rusty and Brewer's Blackbirds in the woods and fields near Chicota. We had flight views of at least 150 Lapland Longspurs in these fields. After the trip, on the drive back to Tyler, we had a flock of about 4000 Snow Geese and a lonely Greater White-fronted Goose on Hwy 37, south of Bogata in Red River County. The next day, Linda and Peggy had 1500 Snow Geese, some Ross's Geese and 70 Greater White-fronted Geese in the same field.

Rio Grande Valley Festival field trip - 11/10-14/2010 We just got back from a very productive trip to the RGV Birding Festival. The expected Green Jays, Plain Chachalacas, Vermilion Flycatchers, Great Kiskadees, Tropical and Couch's Kingbirds, Altamira, Audubon's and Hooded Orioles all put on a good show, We had 17 raptor species, including Gray Hawk, Harris' and White-tailed Hawk, Aplomado Falcon and killer looks at an unexpected Ferruginous Hawk. Those who went to the coast saw a wide variety of shorebirds and waterfowl and a flyover of 2 Magnificent Frigatebirds. Estero Llano Grande State Park was a popular and productive spot, yielding close-up views of roosting Eastern Screech Owls and Common Pauraques, Tropical Parula, Townsend's Warbler and a one-day wonder Ruddy Ground-Dove that was quite confiding and posed for photos. We also lucked out with the Crimson-collared Grosbeak at the Valley Nature Center in Weslaco, and had Mountain Plovers north of Harlingen.

Pleasant Hill area - 11/6/2010 Ten people showed up for the field trip this morning at the Pleasant Hill church and cemetery. It was a beautiful day, if a little cold at first, and we saw a good variety of wintering birds, with 8 species of sparrows, including killer looks at LeConte's Sparrow, always a difficult bird to see well. We also had 2 Northern Harriers, an eye level Brown-headed Nuthatch, 2 Sedge Wrens that gave brief views, a Hermit Thrush giving a variety of calls that had us fooled for awhile, and 2 Eastern Towhees. Thanks to Linda Price for taking us around and showing us some of her favorite spots

Texas Eastman facility in Longview - 9/25/2010 Fifty species were spotted on the field trip to the Texas Eastman facility in Longview. Two adult Bald Eagles were the highlight of the trip, and a very cooperative Solitary Sandpiper posed for us. Five species of woodpeckers were observed, including Hairy and Red-headed Woodpeckers, as well as a Fish Crow. We watched a water moccasin try to catch a Killdeer, fortunately without success.

Richland Chambers WMA - 9/18.2010 We had a big turnout of 14 people for the first field trip of the season this morning and tallied 53 species. Unfortunately, the road around the treatment ponds at the far end of the north unit were closed, limiting access to waterbirds. The best bird today was a Common Moorhen, which we saw briefly after most people had left. It was also interesting to park close to a tree full of Neotropic Cormorants that were grunting like pigs (again, after most had left, sorry!). Other notable sightings were 7 Anhingas, none very cooperative, 2 Tricolored Herons, an impressive flight of Cattle Egrets over the south unit after 7 am, an Osprey, Northern Harrier and a Cooper's Hawk, a Black-throated Green Warbler and 3 Baltimore Orioles. The complete list is below. Others may have seen additional birds, and I know that Peggy and Wanda saw many more Cattle Egrets before we arrived. We missed Wood Stork sand Roseate Spoonbills, which may have been in the north end ponds that were not accessible by car.

MORRIS COUNTY BOTTOMS - 4/3/2010 Linda Price, Dennis Scott and Peter Barnes spent 4 hours birding the bottoms in Camp and Morris counties, southwest of Lake Lone Star. We birded around the lake and in some forest and bottomland north of the northwest corner of Lake O' the Pines. The habitat was beautiful and we tallied about 60 species. Highlights were an Osprey and a Northern Harrier at Lake Lone Star, a Broad-winged Hawk near LOP, at least 5 Red-headed Woodpeckers, Yellow-throated and Blue-headed Vireos, a Black-and-White Warbler, several Yellow-throated Warblers and a Lark Sparrow. Surprisingly, we didn't hear Northern Parula or Prothonotary Warblers.

COASTAL FIELD TRIP - 3/19-23/2010 Eight of us went down past Houston on Friday and birded Fort Bend, Brazoria, Matagorda and Calhoun counties for 3 days, before driving back to east Texas, stopping on the Katy Prairie west of Houston on the way back. We tallied 157 species, despite heavy rain on one day and 20-30 mph winds on two days. We had 15 species of raptors, 29 shorebirds and 14 ducks.
 
Highlights were numerous, with great views of an American Bittern, Black-crowned and Yellow-crowned Night Herons and several Grasshopper Sparrows at Brazos Bend State Park. At Brazoria NWR, we had 4 Swallow-tailed Kites and a good variety of shorebirds and ducks. At Quintana, the wind made for few migrants, but one Yellow-throated Warbler a couple of feet off the ground was a colorful sight.  
 
We had great views of Upland Sandpipers and American Golden Plovers by the road in Brazoria County, and Long-billed Curlews in someone's front yard 30 feet from the car, In Matagorda County,  there were 200+ American Golden Plovers, 2 Buff-breasted Sandpipers, and a remarkable sight of 20+ Bald Eagles hunting for prey and squabbling over it in a field by the highway. At Palacios, Peggy had a fly-by White-winged Scoter, and we spent time sorting through hundreds of shorebirds, finding 2 Wetern Sandpipers and 1 Wilson's Plover. Raptors put on a good show, with Bald Eagle, White-tailed Kite, Harris' and White-tailed Hawks, Osprey, White-tailed Kite and Crested Caracara all perched by the highway in different locations.  
 
At Seadrift, we had 3 Fulvous and 8 Black-bellied Whistling Ducks. The beach at Port O'Connor was covered with hundreds of shorebirds, including 3 Baird's Sandpipers. An adult Lesser Black-backed Gull was also present, and a Ladder-backed Woodpecker on the beach front was an odd sight. It was fantastic birding, and best of all, we all got along despite spending 15+ hours a day together. We will try to top it on the April trip to the upper coast when migration is in full swing.

LAKE FORK - 2/28/2010 Janet and Ron Cook took us to their favorite birding spots around Lake Fork yesterday, which was a perfect day for birding, with little wind. We tallied 76 species during the day, the bird of the day being a Great Horned Owl sitting in a nest that looked more suitable for cormorants, being completely surrounded by water. We had 11 species of ducks, including 70 Common Goldeneyes and 50 Canvasbacks, 6 Bald Eagles and 2 Herring Gulls.

CAMP TYLER - 2/20/2010 Nine folks enjoyed the trip to Camp Tyler and tallied 61 species. There was an unusually high number of American Robins and Cedar Waxwings, typical for the winter of 2009-2010 in north east Texas

HAGERMAN WILDLIFE REFUGE- 1/30/2010 Only 4 birders (Janet and Ron Cook, Linda Price and I) were willing to brave the cold for the field trip to Hagerman NWR yesterday. It was pretty chilly but the roads were good and it was dry. Despite the wind, we tallied 73 species, including 1700+ waterfowl of 17 species, with about 700 Snow Geese, 30 Ross' Geese, 20 Canada and 4 Greater White-fronted Geese and 9 Hooded Mergansers. We also got great looks at Harris' Sparrow (50+) and Fox Sparrows (10), and had 400 Horned Larks outside the refuge.

CONCESSION AREA - 12/05/2009 Only Mike Bloodsworth and Peter Barnes showed up for today's chilly field trip. The concession area had a good selection of waterbirds, including a Common Loon, a male Common Goldeneye, 4 Bufflehead, a Greater and a Lesser Scaup, Spotted Sandpiper and 3 Least Sandpipers. One of the nearby ponds held 2 American Wigeon, a male Hooded Merganser and 10-15 Gadwall. Land birds were less cooperative, but we had a good variety of sparrows in the fields around Whitehouse, including great looks at 10 Harris Sparrows. Before the field trip, I had an impressive flock of about 6000 American Robins flying from their roost off CR113 south of Tyler.

LAKE MURVAUL - 11/22/2009 This morning's field trip to Lake Murvaul started off slow, but we ended up with 60 species, including an immature Black-crowned Night Heron and several Neotropic Cormorants at the marina, a Hairy Woodpecker, 2 Marsh Wrens, 2 late Blue-Gray Gnatcatchers, 2 White-eyed Vireos and a very cooperative Gray Catbird. Ducks were distant, but we eked out 2 Common Goldeneyes, 1 Greater Scaup and 10-15 Canvasbacks. On the way to Lake Murvaul, Dennis Scott and I had a lingering Scissor-tailed Flycatcher. It was a great day to be out. Thanks to Peggy Harding for leading the trip.

KURTH LAKE - 11/14/2009 We had a nice morning at Kurth Lake today and tallied 47 species, including 2 late Blue-Gray Gnatcatchers, a Blue-headed Vireo and 9 species of ducks, although views were distant for most of them. After the trip, we visited the Museum of East Texas in Lufkin and saw the impressive exhibit of prints by John James Audubon and Mimi Wolf. It was a bird-filled day. Thanks to Louis Debetaz for leading the trip.

RICHLAND CREEK WMA - 9/5/2009 No sign of rain at RCWMA today, where 9 of us showed up for the field trip this morning. The north unit was very dry, so the number of large wading birds was unusually low. Nevertheless, there were about 40 Wood Storks, 6 Tricolored Herons, 3 Plegadis Ibis and 1 immature Black-crowned Night Heron. Other birds of interest were 1 flyover Anhinga, a White-tailed Kite, 2 Mississippi KItes, a Bald Eagle, Northern Harrier, 2 Western Sandpipers, a good number (8) of Loggerhead Shrikes, a late singing Swainson's Warbler and a Northern Waterthrush in the North Unit, 2 Acadian Flycatchers, 4 lingering Northern Parulas, 8 Baltimore Orioles and 2 Orchard Orioles in the south unit.