Saturday, December 15, 2012

Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge CBC

Yesterday I was a participant on a Christmas Bird Count that is just to the west of the Atascosa Highlands CBC circle, which I've compiled the past four years. I did this CBC about 10 years ago with a couple friends, and I remember the Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl that Gabe spotted as the best bird of the count.

This time I was with John Reuland, a CBC addict like me. He's doing three this weekend.

We had mostly very open habitats, almost no water (except for rain that got us wet and cold).

But these gorgeous fields were full of Ammodramus sparrows, and we managed to see several well enough to ID. Most were Grasshopper Sparrows, but one Baird's Sparrow sat obligingly on the ground for me. (It scurried off before John got good looks.)

We had some brushy washes, and this Santa Margarita Wash was particularly full of birds, such as a pair of Crissal Thrashers, Rufous-winged Sparrows, and Pyrrhuloxia. I tried my hand at digibinning with my new Canon PowerShot G15.

Another attempt here with a Plumbeous Vireo, one of our better finds. It's hard to digibin birds that are constantly on the move.

This is a view of Arivaca Wash, a big weedy BFZ (bird-free zone), except here on the edge where there were mesquites and some fruiting hackberry trees. In one dense patch here we found a group of 4 Long-eared Owls.

We saw some other nice stuff, such as 4 Antelope Jackrabbits and a couple of these really interesting mushrooms that release spores from the top of their cap.

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