Birding Brawl 2020

5:40 a.m. with mask ready!

7:15 a.m. with mask ready!

11:00 a.m. with mask ready!

3:00 p.m. with no mask. Oops!
Hi, all. I sure hope you have been able to get outside and enjoy migration this spring. In Austin the temps are already heading into the 90's with humidity to boot!

I wanted to share with you a fun event in which I participated last Sunday, May 24. Travis Audubon postponed our spring Birdathon to the fall. In an attempt to revive the members' spirits, we decided to have an impromptu Birding Brawl, whereby 4 prominent board members, past or present each conducted their own Big Day...ALONE! The event was held on Sunday, May 24, over 24 hours within the Austin area Checklist. We each had fundraising pages and in total we earned over $7,000!

Shelia Hargis, past president of Travis Audubon, won with 91 birds! We had fun, and though I did not win, I had a great time. See my narrative below.

At 5:40a.m., I sat in the beautiful dark at Riata Pond for dawn song. Lightning bugs pinged everywhere, beside me and across the pond in the grassy meadow. Gorgeous. Common nighthawk made passes through thick mist above the inky water. I wheeled up to but not into the forested part of the park because I wasn't sure how safe it was. I had 16 species by 7:00ish and headed for Lake Creek.


My first birds at Lake Creek, a red-winged blackbird ALL OVER a red-shouldered hawk. I picked up eastern pewee, least flycatcher, another certain empid, but could not get it in time, couch's kingbird and others...THANK YOU JEFF PATTERSON FOR THE B3 (Be a Better Birder) CLASS! I spent over three hours at this park, picked up 24 new birds and headed for Berry Springs at 10:30.


I began birding at Berry Springs at 11:00 and picked up 10 new birds, including summer tanager, yellow-billed cuckoo, western and eastern kingbird, making the kingbird trifecta!


I then headed for Richard Moya about 2:00 and ate a good picnic lunch in my van, listening to yellow warbler singing across the way. I began birding about 3:00, and I did a hell of a lot of wheeling for only 3 new birds, cattle egret and red-eyed vireo with yellow warbler. Starting to be tired and hot and a little bleary-eyed, truth be told.


Next stop LBJ Wildflower Center after hours! I had called two days prior to find out if the great horned owls were still on the premises. Yes!

I scheduled a time slot in this time of covid-19 for 8 a.m., but wasn't sure I'd be able to make it. I obviously didn't make the 8 a.m. slot, but at 5:00 p.m., I thought I might drive over there and get lucky. I did not get the great horned owl, but I did enjoy perched painted buntings males singing their fool heads off and yellow-green females blatantly eyeing me at close range with their perched up tails.


Two Cooper's Hawks flew above me with black rain clouds as a backdrop. After about 45 minutes, I popped back in my van at 6:45 p.m., and the sky opened up!


My last stop was Beverly Sheffield NW park near my home. It was 7:15 p.m., and I hoped the rain would let up long enough for me to get something new before nightfall, but it wasn't to be. 55 species would have to stand!


Home and in bed by 8:30. I reviewed my lists, submitted and shared them. I figured I wheeled 9ish miles. I turned out the light and awoke 12 hours later.

I loved every minute of it! Next year I will do it differently.🙂


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