1957 Houston Christmas Count -- Party No, 4 - (Vic Emanuel)
One of the main advantages of shifting our Christmas Census Circle
eastward was that it would include some of the area covered by one of the
most competent and thorough observers in Texas, Mr. Arlie K. McKay of
Cove. Carl Aiken and I had the privilege of assisting him in covering
a portion of the circle and Saturday afternoon he familiarized us with
some of the area we were to cover the following day.
At 6s00 a.m. (almost to the second) Mr. McKay met us at McCulloch
Park where we had been listening in vain for owls. We proceeded to the
Dutton and Red Lake area, property of Mr. A. B. Lawrence, Here we found the
wonderful expanse of marsh an ideal start for the day. Many thanks to Mr,
Lawrence for permitting us to visit this area, it certainly paid off.
Walking out on a pier over the lake we greeted the sunrise while adding
thousands of Green-wing Teal, Black-cr, Night Herons, 75 White-fronted
Geese, and many other waterbirds. On the edges of the lake we added
numerous woods-birds, but It was on a dike that we made our big find, a
LEAST BITTERN (the next day McKay found a Green Heron at the same place).
Near the park we added a Bonaparte's Gull and"-Hed^Keaded Woodpecker.
When McKay left us at the park at 9s00 a.m. we had 53 species. Between
then and 1:00 p.m., when we rejoined Mr. McKay, we covered the Cedar Bayou
Bay Road, Here we added several sparrows including Song, Vesper, and
Grasshopper, as well as Sprague's Pipits, a Caracara, and as we ate lunch
three thousand Blue and Snow Geese flew overhead. Nearby we found Common
Loons and Short-billed Marsh Wrens. When we rejoined Mr. McKay we had 77
During the next four hours the census was fast and rough as we waded
through marshes and flooded fields and forced our way through dense briar
tangles. At Swan Marsh we added Sharp-tailed Sparrows and off Shell Point
about 200 Canvasbacks as well as 150 Red-br."Tergansers, an Eared Grebe,
Ruddy Duck, and several Common Goldeneyes were added.
Our attempts to find Inca and Ground Doves, Black-headed Grosbeak,
Groove-billed Anis, Winter Wren, and Yellow-br. Chat, all of which McKay
had seen during the previous week, were in vain. However we did succeed in
finding a Catbird, Woodcock, White-cr. and Harris' Sparrows. Our last birds
of the day were shorebirds at Swan Marsh which included Seaside Sparrows and
a Clapper Rail. Our parties final total was 105 speeies. (Mr. McKay had
indicated we would get 85 speeies but admitted his highest expectations were
about 94 species, even though he had told us earlier there were probably 104
speeies in our area)
Birding with Mr. McKay is a real pleasure. Not only does he know his
area perfectly and what birds to expect there, but his amazing ability for
quick, accurate Identifications and his knowledge of little-known facts
about birds is phenomenal. We would like to thank him for his. splendid
cooperation on this count, for without his assistance this year's count
could have never been the success that it was.
1957 Galveaton Christmas Count - December 22, 1957 - (Vie Emanuel)
The first Galveston Christmas Count was conducted in 1946, producing a
total of 69 species seen by three observers. In 1955 three observers found
91 species. No Galveston count was made in 1956. This year ten observers
in three parties participated in the census of a 15-mile circle taking in
the island down to the end of S Road, the tip of Bolivar Peninsula, and the
mainland up to Lamarque and Texas City.
Carl Aiken and I were to cover the island from Duek Lake east, and the
tip of Bolivar. Arriving at Offats Bayou we recorded several hundered ducks,
mostly Pintails. At a nearby marsh we had good luck and added a SORA RAIL,
4 Common Gallinules, another Sora, a LEAST BITTERN, and a Long-billed Marsh
Wren. At Duck Lake, the western extreme of our "area, we picked up several
species of ducks.
Kempner Park is the main wooded area on the island so our hopes for
woods-birds hinged on it. At first It was disappointing although we didn't
expect anything like last years rarities. We added only a Yellow-shafted
Flicker, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, and a Brown Thrasher. Then things picked
up as we added a flock of Cedar Waxwings j, Inca Doves, some Robins, a
Baltimore Oriole (in winter plumage), and a Rufous Hummingbird (male-
studied carefully). In a garden near 17th and Broadway we found a Catbird.
At the jetties we saw many common waterbirds Including several Red-breasted
Mergansers. The fields and brush patches at Bolivar paid off fairly well,
adding our only Hermit Thrush, White-cr. Sparrows, Lincoln's Sparrows,