RE: [BirdYak] Eurasian Wigeon, Topper, P716, and other stuff
- 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!
*From:* BirdYak@yahoogroups.com [mailto:BirdYak@yahoogroups.com] *On Behalf
*Sent:* Thursday, February 21, 2013 9:26 PM
*Subject:* [BirdYak] Eurasian Wigeon, Topper, P716, and other stuff
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!
Befuddled Birder by 3700 Bonnie Boon
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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.