AN AUDUBON WORKSHOP with Mary Bourgeois
I greatly enjoyed the MaineWorkshop of the National Audubon Society on a 300-acre island in Muscongus Bay, two weeks of study and field trips to explore all aspects of
the environment of that area — marine life, plants and trees, animals and of course
birds — the staff ornithologists were both from Cornell and were excellent people.
My favorite bird was the Black Guillemot, we saw them often in pairs or adults with
young; it's a small sea bird (the book says "pigeon-sized) with beautiful black-and-
white pattern, very graceful, and is now in Maine waters in more numbers than previous
ly. We saw many of the shore and sea birds we have in Texas, but there are nesting
colonies there. We had the scope on a common tern at her nest on one of the islands
with her downy chick; also on a land field trip saw a mother robin on her nest through
the scope; saw several osprey nests. Saw many "rafts" of common elders, the mottled
brown females and young, the males had all gone off to wherever; great colonies of
double-crested cormorants; many of the common loons; Great Black-backed gulls. Around
the camp area, favorite sights were the numbers of purple finches at the feeder, and
a magnolia warbler feeding a brown-headed cowbird "baby" twice Its size. The staff
ornithologist, Dr. Steve Kress, heads the project to restore the puffin to Maine; we
went to the island (Eastern Egg Rock) where the young puffins have been stashed away
in burrows, and from which they were fledging nightly, but the sea was so rough that
day, we land-lubber campers weren't able to land at the somewhat primitive dock on
Eastern Egg Rock. So we didn't see puffins but learned a lot about that fascinating
bird and about all birds. This just touches the highlights; each evening we had a
tally of all birds seen off or on our Island, and the list was Impressive. I would
highly recommend the Audubon Workshops; there are several others around the country.
MERIDIAN STATE PARK with Wesley Cureton
A favorite spot of mine is Meridan State Park (about 50 miles northwest of Waco), home
of the golden-cheeked warbler and black-capped vireo. Because of the abundance of
Ashe juniper, whose bark Is essential to the warbler's nesting cycle, the park Is
the site of a detailed study of golden-cheeked habitat. My joy at seeing the two
Hill Country specialties on June 8-9 was lessened somewhat, however, by the fact that
both were feeding oversized baby cowbirds.
Searching both riparian growth and dry hillsides, I found abundant evidence of the
"Bast-meets-west" nature of the Edwards Plateau. Beside such eastern species as
chuck-will's widow, Carolina chickadee, Carolina wren, white-eyed and red-eyed vireo,
and field sparrow, were such westerners as roadrunner, poorwill, black-chinned hummer,
ladder-backed woodpecker, black-crested titmouse, Bewick's and canyon wren, Bell's
vireo, lesser goldfinch, and lark and rufous-crowned sparrows. Especially surprising
were four species not even on the summer list: pied-bllled grebe, yellow-crowned
night heron, western peewee, and black-and-white warbler.
BIRDING OUT WEST with the Collins Family: Tom, Sherry and children.
Our trip was a 15 day-4000 mile whirlwind birding success. Sherry and I were observec
by some 60 lifers. Our first stop was in the,Fort Davis Mountains where we saw Cas-
sin's Kingbirds, Scaled Quail, Yellow-headed blackbirds. House Finch and more. Our
bonus birds for this area were Montezuma Quail seen near McDonald Observatory.
The next stop on our trip took us to Tucson, Arizona and the Desert Museum. Here we
found Gambel's Quail, Gila Woodpeckers and a lone coyote patrolIng the museum.
In California, after a day at Disneyland we headed -north in search of our trip objective — "El Condor". Heading up into the Condor refuge we saw two Golden Eagles playing overhead. Upon arriving at the Mt. Pinos camping area, we found the weather to
be cold, wet, and windy. We still managed to find Western and Mountain Bluebirds,
Oregon Juncoes, Mountain Chickadees, Hermit Warblers, White-headed Woodpeckers, and
Pygmy Nuthatch. We wasted the next day on that cold mountain (40-50 degrees) looking
for the Condors only to find out that the best observation point was down in the
valley close to the Vla-Duct pumping station. It took us 30 minutes to drive and
10 minutes to wait for our prize—3 condors or about 6% of the population. From here
we rushed south to San Diego where we saw our Brown Pelican and visited the San Diego
Next we started back east to Arizona and began following our Lane Guide to Madera Canyon, where we found Sulfur-bellied Flycatchers, Painted Redstarts, Bridled Titmouse,
Broad-billed and Blue-throated Hummingbirds. On the way to our last birding area,
Cave Creek, we saw Cassin's sparrows, a Varied Bunting family and another bonus bird—
a Prairie Falcon. Cave Creek was the most beautiful part of our trip. Here we found
Grace's and Red-faced warblers, Western and Hepatic Tanagers, and our final bonus
bird—a Coppery-tailed Trogan who sat so still in bright sunlight and allowed us to
approach within 10 feet. Next year we are heading north to Michigan to see the endangered Kirtland Warbler.