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Eurasian Wigeon, Topper, P716, and other stuff

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  • Rich712@...
    Chirp, To celebrate wrapping up the Audubon newsletter earlier in the week, Editor Elizabeth Bohn and I headed out to Toppenish Wednesday afternoon. First on
    Message 1 of 3 , Feb 21, 2013
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      Chirp,


      To celebrate wrapping up the Audubon newsletter earlier in the week, Editor Elizabeth Bohn and I headed out to Toppenish Wednesday afternoon. First on the menu was checking for Topper, the Peregrine Falcon that frequents downtown Toppenish. He was visible blocks away perched on the south (shady) side of the water tower with the murals...close to the tank directly under the "I" in Toppenish.

      At the intersection of Pumphouse Road and Old Goldendale Road, a flock of ducks alighted almost as soon as I dismounted and set up my tripod. Among the 40+ American Wigeon were two Eurasian Wigeon. Reports of one or two have been popping up at this location on eBird for a couple of weeks...I might be the last lister in the valley to tick them. Going two for two on target species must have made me a little heady as I decided to wade out into the sagebrush south of the intersection to see if I could find an early Sage Sparrow. I was about two sages in when movement off to my right caught my eye. Lo and behold, it was a long-eared jack rabbit. I believe it was a black-tailed jackrabbit but Sibley hasn't released a bunny book yet so I wasn't packing but it did have black tips on the ears. Jackrabbits may be more uncommon nowadays than Sage Sparrows but you couldn't prove it by me...dipped on the sparrow. What I did note out in my walk in the sage was lots of dry, loose dirt and plenty of horse road apples. A pile, many fairly fresh if darkness is a clue, seemingly visible every ten feet in every direction. I'm not sure what vegetation should (ideally) be visible in shrub steppe at this time of year but the general impression was few tiny green sprouts, lots of dirt and knee-high sage and greasewood bushes. Evidently the later two are not good horse browse. A couple dead cattle didn't do much for the air quality.

      Walking out of the sage, I spied a shiny black truck pulling onto Old Goldendale Rd and then parking. When I glimpsed again, a man with a scope was in the bed of the truck. Didn't recognize the truck as belonging to any local birder so I thought I might have a rarity. A woman came into view and I then realized that it was Joe and Karen Zook, which caused me to quiken my pace as they are transplants from the Sequim area and down Old Goldendale there were dozens of large white swans in the TNWR ponds. I figured I could lean on their expertise to help me get beyond large white swan into specifics such as Tundra and, heaven forbid, Trumpeter Swans.

      My luck held as they did stop again just out from the swans and we were able to join them. When I first got into birding, I thought there were just a "few" species that had look-a-likes and that it wouldn't be too hard to learn how to tell them apart. The older I get, the more convinced I am that there are far to many species that actually have identical twin sister (or brother) species. You know, those species that the experts state that are "best separated by call." Polite talk for those that are hard of hearing need not apply. Or if it isn't the call, it's the way they flap their wings, jiggle their toes, or chew their food. Karen was patient with me and I finally found four swans I could fit into the Trumpeter category and maybe more than a dozen that had the yellow lores of Tundras. Joe did a scan and counted just under fifty...don't recall the exact count but I would still be out there if I had to confirm the species on each bird. But while scoping, Joe also spotted a blue neck band on one bird - P716. This is a Tundra Swan that Linda King found over a year ago and received some feedback on from the original banding biologist. So that is pretty cool...all of us did, with some waiting, manage to clearly see the band.

      And, as if this post isn't long enough already, another banding story came to light as we stood on Old Goldendale Road. A rancher who runs cattle in a couple spots in the area stopped twice for a chat. The first time, he thought I was eye-balling tender young calves in yond field. The second time his pickup (natch) stopped, all four of us birders were together. After the obligatory eagle up the road story, he asked if we were Auduboners. Once assured that we were official, he spun his tale of tails. In extremely cold weather, tractors in his shed are hard to start so he fires up a wood stove to speed up the process. This winter he opened the door to the stove and discovered a pile of dead Starlings that apparently enetered the stove pipe to escape the cold. In the pile, were several dead woodpeckers which he referred to as red headed woodpeckers. The red was located on top of the birds head and he motioned to the back of his head. Jack-booted, government agents please discontinue reading here! In his culture, some groups believe that fans made of colorful feathers bring good luck. As these woodpeckers had colorful tails, he "cut" the tails off. That is when he noticed a small silver band on one bird's leg. At home, he could read the number and a 877-phone number. He called the number and gave them the number from the band on the red headed woodpecker. He subsequently received a email from them requesting confirmation and a return of the actual band. By the number, they stated the bird was banded in Maryland and was recorded as an intergrade Flicker. What a journey!


      Later,
      Rich
      Befuddled Birder by 3700 Bonnie Boon



      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • Jeff Kozma
      Great stories, Rich. The guy finding the band is one reason why I always inspect dead birds for bands when I can. Once in NY, while walking and fishing along
      Message 2 of 3 , Feb 22, 2013
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        Great stories, Rich. The guy finding the band is one reason why I always
        inspect dead birds for bands when I can. Once in NY, while walking and
        fishing along the shore of the Niagara River, I found a dead Ring-billed
        Gull on the shore that had a band. You never know what you might find!



        Jeff





        *From:* BirdYak@yahoogroups.com [mailto:BirdYak@yahoogroups.com] *On Behalf
        Of *Rich712@...
        *Sent:* Thursday, February 21, 2013 9:26 PM
        *To:* birdyak@yahoogroups.com
        *Subject:* [BirdYak] Eurasian Wigeon, Topper, P716, and other stuff







        Chirp,


        To celebrate wrapping up the Audubon newsletter earlier in the week, Editor
        Elizabeth Bohn and I headed out to Toppenish Wednesday afternoon. First on
        the menu was checking for Topper, the Peregrine Falcon that frequents
        downtown Toppenish. He was visible blocks away perched on the south (shady)
        side of the water tower with the murals...close to the tank directly under
        the "I" in Toppenish.

        At the intersection of Pumphouse Road and Old Goldendale Road, a flock of
        ducks alighted almost as soon as I dismounted and set up my tripod. Among
        the 40+ American Wigeon were two Eurasian Wigeon. Reports of one or two
        have been popping up at this location on eBird for a couple of weeks...I
        might be the last lister in the valley to tick them. Going two for two on
        target species must have made me a little heady as I decided to wade out
        into the sagebrush south of the intersection to see if I could find an
        early Sage Sparrow. I was about two sages in when movement off to my right
        caught my eye. Lo and behold, it was a long-eared jack rabbit. I believe it
        was a black-tailed jackrabbit but Sibley hasn't released a bunny book yet
        so I wasn't packing but it did have black tips on the ears. Jackrabbits may
        be more uncommon nowadays than Sage Sparrows but you couldn't prove it by
        me...dipped on the sparrow. What I did note out in my walk in the sage was
        lots of dry, loose dirt and plenty of horse road apples. A pile, many
        fairly fresh if darkness is a clue, seemingly visible every ten feet in
        every direction. I'm not sure what vegetation should (ideally) be visible
        in shrub steppe at this time of year but the general impression was few
        tiny green sprouts, lots of dirt and knee-high sage and greasewood bushes.
        Evidently the later two are not good horse browse. A couple dead cattle
        didn't do much for the air quality.

        Walking out of the sage, I spied a shiny black truck pulling onto Old
        Goldendale Rd and then parking. When I glimpsed again, a man with a scope
        was in the bed of the truck. Didn't recognize the truck as belonging to any
        local birder so I thought I might have a rarity. A woman came into view and
        I then realized that it was Joe and Karen Zook, which caused me to quiken
        my pace as they are transplants from the Sequim area and down Old
        Goldendale there were dozens of large white swans in the TNWR ponds. I
        figured I could lean on their expertise to help me get beyond large white
        swan into specifics such as Tundra and, heaven forbid, Trumpeter Swans.

        My luck held as they did stop again just out from the swans and we were
        able to join them. When I first got into birding, I thought there were just
        a "few" species that had look-a-likes and that it wouldn't be too hard to
        learn how to tell them apart. The older I get, the more convinced I am that
        there are far to many species that actually have identical twin sister (or
        brother) species. You know, those species that the experts state that are
        "best separated by call." Polite talk for those that are hard of hearing
        need not apply. Or if it isn't the call, it's the way they flap their
        wings, jiggle their toes, or chew their food. Karen was patient with me and
        I finally found four swans I could fit into the Trumpeter category and
        maybe more than a dozen that had the yellow lores of Tundras. Joe did a
        scan and counted just under fifty...don't recall the exact count but I
        would still be out there if I had to confirm the species on each bird. But
        while scoping, Joe also spotted a blue neck band on one bird - P716. This
        is a Tundra Swan that Linda King found over a year ago and received some
        feedback on from the original banding biologist. So that is pretty
        cool...all of us did, with some waiting, manage to clearly see the band.

        And, as if this post isn't long enough already, another banding story came
        to light as we stood on Old Goldendale Road. A rancher who runs cattle in a
        couple spots in the area stopped twice for a chat. The first time, he
        thought I was eye-balling tender young calves in yond field. The second
        time his pickup (natch) stopped, all four of us birders were together.
        After the obligatory eagle up the road story, he asked if we were
        Auduboners. Once assured that we were official, he spun his tale of tails.
        In extremely cold weather, tractors in his shed are hard to start so he
        fires up a wood stove to speed up the process. This winter he opened the
        door to the stove and discovered a pile of dead Starlings that apparently
        enetered the stove pipe to escape the cold. In the pile, were several dead
        woodpeckers which he referred to as red headed woodpeckers. The red was
        located on top of the birds head and he motioned to the back of his head.
        Jack-booted, government agents please discontinue reading here! In his
        culture, some groups believe that fans made of colorful feathers bring good
        luck. As these woodpeckers had colorful tails, he "cut" the tails off. That
        is when he noticed a small silver band on one bird's leg. At home, he could
        read the number and a 877-phone number. He called the number and gave them
        the number from the band on the red headed woodpecker. He subsequently
        received a email from them requesting confirmation and a return of the
        actual band. By the number, they stated the bird was banded in Maryland and
        was recorded as an intergrade Flicker. What a journey!

        Later,
        Rich
        Befuddled Birder by 3700 Bonnie Boon


        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]




        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • gadzooks58
        Richard - We enjoyed your post - you are a great story teller! We wanted to let you know that we reported the sighting of Tundra Swan P716 to Craig Ely. I had
        Message 3 of 3 , Feb 22, 2013
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          Richard - We enjoyed your post - you are a great story teller!

          We wanted to let you know that we reported the sighting of Tundra Swan P716 to Craig Ely. I had to look up the contact name, and as it turns out, Craig was the contact when we spotted a tagged Tundra Swan a few years back in Sequim as well. If we get any interesting info on the swan, we will post to BirdYak.

          Zooks
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