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Brown Pelican May / June 2004 The The Newsletter of the Coastal Bend Audubon Society May Speaker: Dr. Lee A. Fuiman, Of Whoopers and Other Wonders Scientist/Author, By CBAS Newsletter Editor, Kendal Keyes The University of Texas Marine Science Institute I recently had the pleasure of being a providing unparalleled vantage points for guest aboard the Rockport Birding and viewing wildlife. You can sit comfortably Subject: Kayak Adventures Skimmer. The Skim- on the top deck and enjoy the view and Antarctic Seals: Using mer is a fast and quiet 40’ aluminum hull fresh air or you may sit in the cabin next Technology to tour boat. She drafts only 2.5 feet and to huge openable windows on a cush- Understand Nature cruises comfortably at 25-30 mph making ioned seat with restrooms nearby and a her the fastest birding tour vessel in the PA system that you can actually under- area. She can get almost anywhere Location: (Continued on page 2) Corpus Christi Museum of Science and History May Speaker - Dr. Lee A. Fuiman 1900 N. Chaparral Corpus Christi, Texas Antarctic Seals: Using Technology to Understand How can we learn about the hunting and windiest place on earth. An exciting Time: behavior of marine mammals? They presentation you should not miss. 1st Tuesday of the swim too fast and too deep for humans to month 6:45 pm observe directly. Dr. Fuiman and his col- Dr. Fuiman earned his B.S. in Marine Biol- _____________________ leagues have begun to make great ogy at Southampton College, then re- advances in understanding how Weddell ceived a M.S. in Fishery Biology from Cor- No Summer Series Seals in Antarctica find their food, by at- nell University, followed by a Ph.D. also in this summer. taching specially designed instruments to Fishery Biology from University of Michi- the seal. gan. He was a National Science Founda- There will be NO tion Postdoctoral Fellow at Scottish M a- June, July, or August Dr. Fuiman will review some of these ex- rine Biological Association and joined the speakers or meetings. citing findings and show what it takes to University of Texas Marine Science Insti- conduct research in the coldest, driest, tute in 1988. We will resume CBAS presentations again in Lee is currently Professor of Marine Sci- September at the ence and Professor of Integrative Biology Corpus Christi at The University of Texas and has a u- Museum of Science thored more than 90 scientific publications and History on biology of larval fishes and marine 1900 N. Chaparral mammals. Corpus Christi, Texas For more information see www.utmsi. All members and the utexas.edu/staff/fuiman or call 361-728- public are invited! 4635. A lone researcher braves an Antarctic storm Photo by Lee Fuiman What’s Up Around Texas April 30 – May 3, 2004, Lago Vista, TX, 4th Annual areas to provide an unparalleled vantage point to o b- Texas Songbird Festival. serve and photograph wildlife. We will limit our CBAS Located 35 miles northwest of Austin, the “gateway trip to the first 20 that make reservations, so call now. to the Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Ref- Contact: Terri Nicolau 442-9437. See uges” offers excellent habitat for two Texas endemic http://www.rockportadventures.com/rpa/ for more in- endangered birds – the Golden-cheeked warbler and formation. the Black-capped vireo. The festival includes oppor- tunities to view both of these species on birding May 14-16, 2004, Weslaco, TX, 5th Annual walks as well as programs, a trade show and other Dragonfly Days. events. Contact: Lago Vista Chamber of Commerce Focusing on the diversity of these flying wonders 888-328-LAGO www.lagovista.org found in the Lower Rio Grande Valley, this event o f- fers field trips, seminars and lots of opportunities to April 30 – May 2, 2004, Chappell Hill, TX, First see birds, butterflies, and dragonflies in one of Amer- Annual BirdFest. ica’s most diverse regions. Contact: Valley Nature This n ew central Texas festival features renowned Center, Weslaco, 956-969-2475. speakers, birding field trips in the beautiful heart of Texas. Contact: Washington County Convention and July 15-18, 2004, Brownsville, TX, Brownsville Visitors Bureau 1 888-Brenham International Bird Festival. Pelagic trips, Laguna Madre, thornscrub and butterfly Saturday May 8, 2004, Rockport/Fulton, the trips, as well as a field trip into Mexico highlight this Aransas National Wildlife Refuge and international event. The only Rio Grande festival to surrounding area. feature summer birding, the field trips offer Leaches; Coastal Bend Audubon Society coastal birding field Storm petrel, masked booby, Magnificent frigatebird, trip aboard the Skimmer. 7:15 a.m.- 12:00p.m. Rock- Reddish egret, and many others. Daily seminars, a port Birding and Kayak Adventures continues the tra- marketplace and evening activities, round out the pro- dition of Captain Ted's Whooping Crane Tours gram. Contact: David Lee, Brownsville Convention aboard the Skimmer. The Skimmer is fast, quiet, and and Visitors Bureau. www.Brownsville.org, E-mail: drafts only 2.5 feet. Built for birding, she carries up to firstname.lastname@example.org 46 passengers and will maneuver into remote birding Of Whoopers and Other Wonders (continued) (Continued from page 1) It was already 7:30 a.m. but my sleepy weekend eyes stand and listen to Captain Tommy Moore or birding were still red. I opted to pass on the vino a la card- guide Richard Gibbons describe the area and the wild- board, saving it for the afternoon guests! As we left the life. It is fun and effortless birding - - or just a fun way to harbor, we were greeted by much perkier breakwater spend the morning or afternoon enjoying our bays! riff-raff - Brown pelicans, Great Blue herons, Herring gulls, Ring-billed gulls, and Laughing gulls - new spe- As the boat cies for many of the birders on board. Their enthusiasm s l o w l y was contagious and although I’d seen these birds many pulled away times, I enjoyed watching the others as they spotted from the new birds. dock, I walked to Leaving the no wake zone, the Skimmer reached a the back of comfortable cruising speed as we headed out to the first the cabin of our many stops for the morning. Soon after we were and poured underway someone spotted a Common loon. As we myself a cruised, several Royal terns flew overhead and an Os- cup of fresh prey and several Turkey vultures soared in distance. coffee and Occasionally a graceful Least tern plunged into the wa- The Rockport Birding and Kayak added a ter beside our boat. Adventures M.V. Skimmer little milk. Photo by Kendal Keyes (Continued on page 3) Page 2 Of Whoopers and Other Wonders (continued) (Continued from page 2) sitting in the middle of the group, and the sun, now high A squadron of Brown Pelicans graced us with an up- overhead, shone brilliantly off his iridescent back. Sev- close look as about 15 flew very nearby appearing abso- eral black- and yellow-crowned night herons could be lutely motionless as they glided only inches above the seen scattered through out the trees and flying overhead. water. Captain Tommy explained to us that the pelicans The Captain told us that there were literally dozens of fly close to the water surface to compress the air thereby night herons in the trees, we just would not see them making their flight more efficient. unless something spooked them and made them move. Passing a dredge spoil island we saw a Lesser-black backed gull, a new bird for many aboard, Sandwich terns, Common terns, Royal terns, a Semi-palmated plover, Black-bellied plovers, Oystercatchers, Willets, and sev- eral other small shorebirds. Soon after we left these is- lands and began our way over to the intracoastal canal we saw several Atlantic bottle-nose dolphins playing off the starboard side. The Captain cut the engines and we enjoyed watching and photographing them for about 15 minutes. Several dolphins were together in very shallow water. As they played around, maybe they were fishing, their dorsal fins and upper dorsal surface were almost constantly out of the water, offering us all a great view. We entered the intracoastal waterway next to the Aran- sas National Wildlife Refuge and immediately spotted a nesting Grey-tailed hawk perched upon a nest high in the top of an oak tree mott. Cruising slowly down the chan- nel we passed Common egrets, Great Blue herons, Wil- Roseate spoonbills, White ibises, and a lets, Yellowlegs, Long-billed curlews and a feral hog. Little Blue heron roost together on a dredge island. Captain Tommy commented that he often sees hogs, Photo by Kendal Keyes javelina, deer, raccoon and other non-bird wildlife. The bright green of the new mesquite leaves contrasted After a very short, and very pleasant 30 minute cruise beautifully with the other dark green foliage, and the red down the channel we spotted a Whooping crane. It was flowers of hundreds of coral bean plants in full bloom pro- a young female that the Captain knew well! She was vided a stunning backdrop for the spectacular pink of the only about 150 yards from our boat and appeared com- Roseates. pletely unconcerned by our presence. She continued resting, walking, and occasionally eating crabs during our White poppies were also in full bloom and the shoreline entire 30 minute visit, providing the photographers with of this island was completely covered in a snowy blanket. terrific photo ops. Hopefully they all came away with Several small boats were anchored at this area, some some of the best photos they have ever taken. people fished, others just enjoyed the spring sun, lazing on the decks of the boats. Red-winged blackbirds and sparrows flitted about in the marsh grass. We heard the call of a Clapper rail in the We eventually turned toward home. Using the new Rock- marsh area near the Whooping crane and scoured the port Resort Hotel as a landmark we headed straight cordgrass anxiously for a glimpse, to no avail. Carolina across the bay, and the speedy Skimmer took us home wrens called from the opposite bank and some tree tops smooth and dry in no time at all. It was a perfect ending were spotted with Scissor-tailed flycatchers and the occa- to a very exciting and at the same time, peaceful morn- sional Northern cardinal and Mockingbird. In the distance ing. The beauty and marvelous wildlife of our coastal the Captain spotted a Crested caracara! We moved on bays, combined with the comfort of the Skimmer, always eventually, although the beautiful young Whooping crane provides an enjoyable adventure. remained. Coastal Bend Audubon Society is planning a private Later we pulled up near a rookery island that was literally (CBAS members and guests) field trip aboard the th exploding with color and wings. Several large trees right Skimmer for the morning of Saturday May 8 , 7:30 a.m. on the edge of the water were completely full of White See What’s Up Around Texas (pg. 2) for more informa- ibises, and Roseate spoonbills. A Little blue heron was tion and to make a reservation. Page 3 Coastal Native Plants and Wildlife Compliments of Ernie Edmundson The following is a list of coastal South Texas native plants with an indication of the type of plant and it’s attractiveness to butterflies or birds. Many thanks to Ernie Edmundson for a terrific program April 6th and for allowing us to print the fol- lowing information. BU = BUTTERFLIES, BI = BIRDS; Types: SH = SHRUB, T = TREE, G = GRASS, GC = GROUND COVER, AN = ANNUAL, PR = PERENNIAL, V = VINE PLANT TYPE BU BI PLANT TYPE BU BI Bluebonnet AN X Dewberry V X X Indian Paintbrush AN X Carolina Snailseed V X Indian Blanket AN X X Agarito SH X Phlox Drummond’s AN X Blue Sage Horsemint AN X Button Bush SH X X Coreopsis AN X American Elderberry SH X Greenthread AN X X Barbados Cherry SH X X Texas Thistle AN X Carolina Wolfberry SH X X Bristle Leaf Dyssodia AN X American Beautyberry SH X Silverleaf Sunflower AN X X Coral Bean SH X X Butterfly Weed, Milkweed PR X Turks Cap SH X X Manfreda Huaco PR X Chilepiquin SH X Fragrant Mistflower PR X X Coral Bean SH X X Gayfeather PR X Texas Torchwood SH X Goldenrod PR X Guayacan, Soapbush SH X X Pigeonberry PR X Texas Lantana SH X X Autumn Sage PR X Roughleaf Dogwood SH X X Mealy Blue Sage PR X X Cenizo Texas Sage SH X X Scarlet Sage PR X X Yucca, Spanish Dagger SH X X Frog Fruit GC X Colima, Lime Prickly Ash T X X Snake Herb GC X Wax myrtle T X X Wooly Stemodia GC X Anaqua T X X Little Bluestem G X X Sugarberry Hackberry T X X Gulf Muhly G X Red Mulberry T X X Swan Flower V Farkleberry T X X Passion flower (Maypop) V X X Yaupon Holly T X X Mustang Grape V X Texas Persimmon T X X Snapdragon Vine V X X Live Oak T X X Trumpet Creeper V X Texas Ebony T X X (Campsis radicans) Crossvine X Red Bay T X X Page 4 Native Plant Sources Compliments of Ernie Edmundson The following is a short list of nurseries that carry native Rancho Lomitas Native Plant Nursery - exclusively plants, courtesy of Ernie Edmundson, April speaker. natives, retail and wholesale Local nurseries that carry native plants: Benito Trevino, Jr. P.O. Box 442, Rio Grande City, Texas 78582, Gill's Landscape Nursery – natives, will order specific Phone: 956-486-2576 plants requested Email: email@example.com Airline Rd. Corpus Christi, Texas Texas Homestead Nursery and Landscaping, Inc., retail 6145 US Hwy 183 S. Turner's Nursery - some natives Cuero, Texas 77954 S.P.I.D. Phone: 361-275-3537 Fax: 361-277-9125 Corpus Christi, Texas Coastal Bend Native Plants Adams Flowers & Nursery - some natives Gary Pattillo Hwy. 35 South 217 W. Co. Rd. 2170 exit hwy. 77, 1/2 mile south of Rockport, Texas Ricardo on 2170 west. 1st ent. to left. Kingsville, Texas 78363 Heep's Native Plant Nursery - exclusively natives, Phone: 361-592-5637 or 592-3998 wholesale Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Mike and Claire Heep Tours will be available in a few weeks by appointment! Harlingen, Texas Homing Pigeons Navigate By Following Roads By: Caroline Davies, The Telegraph – UK, Telegraph Group Limited 2004, via TEXBIRDS and Gene Blacklock, CBAS "It really has knocked our research team sideways to find "It really has knocked our research team sideways to find that after a decade-long international study, pigeons a p- that after a decade-long international study, pigeons a p- pear to ignore their inbuilt directional instincts and follow pear to ignore their inbuilt directional instincts and follow the road system." the road system," said Prof Tim Guilford, reader in animal behaviour at Oxford University's Department of Zoology. Researchers have cracked the puzzle of how pigeons find their way home: they just follow the main roads. Zo- "For long-distance navigation and for birds doing a jour- ologists now believe the ney for the first time, they will use their inbuilt compasses “As the crow flies” phrase "as the crow flies" no and take sun and star bearings. "But once homing p i- no longer means the longer means the shortest geons have flown a journey more than once, they home most direct route between in on a habitual route home, much as we do when we are shortest route two points. driving or walking home from work. between two points! "In short, it looks like it is mentally easier for a bird to fly They say it is likely that crows and other diurnal birds also down a road and then turn right. They are just making choose AA-suggested routes, even though it makes their their journey as simple as possible". journeys longer. Some pigeons stick so rigidly to the roads that they even fly round roundabouts (highway His team carried out dozens of tests with pigeons in Ox- turn-arounds) before choosing the exit to lead them back fordshire, releasing them between 10 and 20 miles from to their lofts. their lofts, each with a tiny GPS tracking device attached to their backs. Animal behaviouralists at Oxford University are stunned by their findings, which follow 10 years of research into Matching their routes, they found most flew straight down homing pigeons. For the last 18 months they have used the A34 Oxford bypass. "It was almost comical watching the latest global-positioning technology, allowing them to one group of birds that we released near a major A road. track the ground the birds covered to within one to four They followed the road to the first junction where they all metres. turned right, and a couple of junctions on, they all turned left". Page 5 President’s Message By CBAS President, Terri Nicolau There are several items to make note of this month. become a member of only the local Audubon Society and Please note that we are not going to hold our “Summer their entire membership dues remain in the local treasury Series” meetings this year, so there won’t be CBAS and are not sent to NAS. meetings in the month of July, or August. Our by-laws require that the ANNUAL MEETING be held in June, so I realize that there are some people who might be ada- we will have a short annual meeting the first Tuesday of mantly opposed to merging the two organizations, but June (June 1st 2004) in order to elect officers and to com- there are many others, like myself, who do not really un- plete the Chapter Report forms . We’ll start our meeting derstand why there are two separate groups. and programs again in September 2004. There are complex details that would need to be worked Slowly but surely, plans for the “Byrd Harris Memorial out should this idea go forward. Would we keep two Hummingbird and Butterfly Garden” at Blucher Audubon separate names? Could there be two separate board of Center are being finalized. Gene Blacklock, Ned Wright, directors? Could there be two separate treasuries? I re- and David Newstead took on the task of putting together alize that a true “merger” could take several years to work great ideas and designs for the garden. out, but a partial merger could begin next year with com- bining programs, meetings, and field trips. A joint board Next, it is time for election of officers. If you have any de- of directors meeting could begin the process and iron out sire to have a greater role or participate more in the a few of the initial wrinkles. CBAS, we would like to have you contact any board member. The nominating committee for 2004 will be: This is just an idea I would like to see discussed. I would Kendal Keyes, Linda Fuiman, and Carolyn Goodloe. You like to see the two organizations pull together on common may contact any of them with nominations. Phone num- ground in order to be a stronger advocate for conserva- bers and emails are on the back of the newsletter. There tion and preservation of our natural resources and wild- are many goals that we can accomplish, but we need life. your help to make things happen!! Thank you, Terri Nicolau Finally, I’d like to propose something that I have been mulling over for several years. I would like to suggest Nature Notes that CBAS and Audubon Outdoor Club consider consoli- By CBAS Contributing Member, Dave Newstead dating. Consolidating what? At the very least, the two organizations could merge meetings and field trips. And April 10, 2004 at the most, the two groups could merge completely and Waterbird migration has been in full swing for some time become an even stronger voice for conservation and now, and large flocks of ibis, egrets, herons and pelicans habitat preservation than the two separate groups are are still commonly seen moving up the coast. now. Gene Blacklock reported several American golden- Before completely disregarding this idea, please take plovers loafing on the geotube structures around the some time to think about the benefits of combining the rookery islands in west Nueces Bay in late March. two groups. To begin with, consider why there should even be two separate groups. The two groups split so Upland sandpipers have been heard frequently in March long ago that even those people who were around at the and early April, but not yet seen. time cannot recall or agree on exactly why the split oc- curred. The two organizations have very similar mission Songbird migration has begun with the early migrants and vision statements. By combining our efforts, we showing up at area hotspots like Pollywog, Packery, and could accomplish twice as much with half the effort! Paradise. Get out there early to see the early migrant warblers (Black-and-white, Hooded, Yellow-throated, Although there are some people who belong only to one Prothonotary, Kentucky, Nashville, Blue-winged, Northern of these organizations (CBAS or AOC), most people who parula, Louisiana waterthrush and others). Blue-headed, are active participants are members of both groups. Sev- Yellow-throated and Red-eyed vireos, Orchard orioles eral years ago, Coastal Bend Audubon Society began a and Eastern kingbirds are also being reported. “Chapter Only” membership that allowed a member all of the benefits of CBAS membership, except for receiving As for hummingbirds, the ruby-throats are moving the National Audubon Society (NAS) magazine. This through, and black-chins have already established territo- “Chapter Only” membership allows individuals who ries and nests at some local spots, such as Rose Hill choose not to be a part of National Audubon Society to Cemetery. Page 6 Nature Notes (continued) MEMBERSHIP Several sightings of American swallow-tailed kites have Name: been reported at various locations throughout the coastal Address: area. City: During a recent banding event at Padre Island National State: Zip Code: Seashore, a Palm warbler was captured, banded and re- leased. Phone: E-mail: Indicate membership preference: Note: I will be responsible for compiling the Nature Notes in the newsletter in the future. The reports here have I would like to become a member of: been based on either my own sightings or those with National Audubon Society (NAS) AND whom I am in frequent communication. I welcome reports Coastal Bend Audubon Society (local W-13). of other notable sightings throughout the Coastal Bend. Your membership includes the National Audu- To submit a note, please e-mail me at: bon Magazine, chapter membership, and email@example.com, or call 361/885-6203. other benefits. Your chapter receives part of your dues. Introductory /1 year $25 Sanctuary Spots I would like to become a member of: By CBAS Sanctuary Manager, Bill Schmidt Coastal Bend Audubon (local W-13) ONLY. No NAS membership and no Audubon Maga- zine subscription. Your chapter only member- Saturday April 10, 2004, mid-morning. Temp. mid 60’s, ship includes all other Audubon membership overcast. Limited animal activities except for a large num- benefits. Your chapter receives all of your ber of ducks observed on the Copano Ranch Pond from dues. our Irene DeWeese Tower. As usual I forgot my binos Introductory /1 year $20 and cannot give a species description. The wildflowers are in full bloom, quite a few different ones. We need a I would like to become a good plant biologist out there to inve ntory them and have CONTRIBUTING MEMBER. detailed descritptions for us. Trimming of the mesquite Your Contributing Membership includes mem- alongside the main roads is badly needed. bership to the National Audubon Society, sub- scription to the Audubon Magazine, chapter You may remember months ago I mentioned that work on membership, and other benefits. You may the main gate would be necessary soon. That time has designate preferred level and category of sup- come! One of the main welds has rusted out and is bro- port. ken. I may be able to use to use 25 feet or so of galva- Tern/1 year$ 50 nized steel wire for a temporary repair. In the long run a Osprey/1 year $100 new galvanized gate is needed. I shall price it and get Pelican/1 year $500 labor estimates. It shoulkd not take more than 2 men half a day including hauling it out there. I noticed that some- Amount Enclosed: $ body was out there since my last visit because the chain Please consider making a tax deductible contribution was not replaced the way it should be. Please note that to the local chapter, the Coastal Bend Audubon Soci- the chain needs to go un- ety. You may designate the category you would like der the second cross bar your contribution applied to:_________ of the gate. 1. General Fund - to be used as needed I also noticed some large 2. Education Program digs - signs of feral hogs. 3. Sanctuary Maintenance If any one else notices 4. Newsletter Fund anything that may indi- To join or to contribute, please send this completed cate hogs please let me form and payment (payable to “Coastal Bend Audubon know. Society”) to: In conclusion, I could use COASTAL BEND AUDUBON a little more help with the P.O. Box 3604 Sanctuary! Corpus Christi, TX 78463 Thank you. Page 7 Non-Profit Org. The Newsletter of the Coastal U. S. Postage Bend Audubon Society PAID Permit No. 1080 Corpus Christi, TX P.O. Box 3604 Corpus Christi, Texas 78463 Phone: (361) 442-9437 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Regular meetings: 1st Tuesday of the month at 6:45 pm at the Corpus Christi Museum of Science and History The Brown Pelican This issue of the Brown Pelican was generously underwritten by: Rockport Birding and Kayak Adventures http://www.rockportadventures.com/rpa/ Coastal Bend Audubon Society Board of Directors PRESIDENT: DIRECTORS: The Coastal Bend Audubon Society is a non-profit 501c(3) Terri Nicolau Gene Blacklock organization dedicated to the conservation of birds and (361) 442-9437 Bron Rorex bird habitat and to education in the Coastal Bend. VICE PRESIDENT: Miles Phillips William “Buzz” Botts Brooke Sween-McGloin The organization is supported by contributions from local (361) 949-8068 Linda Fuiman memberships and from the National Audubon Society. SECRETARY: Kendal Keyes Carolyn Goodloe Milena Worsham (361) 850-8668 Richard Gibbons Your CHAPTER needs you! TREASURER: Anna Moomaw You can help steer the course of growth and change in our Jesse Grantham Bill Schmidt community by working together towards education. Please (361) 884-2634 Brien Nicolau contact us at (361) 939-9964 about getting involved! This newsletter is compiled/written and published every other month. Articles of interest are gathered from various sources and compiled by the editor, volunteers, and/or contributing authors. All contributions and comments are welcomed.
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