tat. During count week all 14 observers saw about 260 species within the count
circle. Not bad birding only a full day's drive from Houston. On a blrd-per-dollar
basis, our trip was hard to beat. Sharing travel expenses with David Matson and
Walter Piper, my total trip cost me less than $85! So when I calculate that I personally saw 208 species on the trip, with 60 lifers, I come up with about 2.5
species per dollar and $1.42 for each lifer! That's cheap birding no matter how
you look a+ l+. Then, when you factor in the quality of birding at El Naranjo, It
is hard to beat! I hope It becomes an annual event for for me.
OUR QUEST FOR THE EUROPEAN WIGEON. by Larry and Martha Ballard
(or, "Winter Birding on Cape Cod and Nantucket")
The question was: Where can we go on a Christmas vacation and see the largest number of "life list" birds in North America? Larry checked the American Bird's CBC
Issues for the last four years, and Eastern Massachusetts seemed to best fit our
needs. We decided to spend one week on Cape Cod, three nights on Nantucket, and
one at Gloucester.
We then wrote letters +o ABA con+ac+s a+ Plymouth, and Chatham, and to the directors
of +he Cape Cod and Nan+ucke+ CBC's. We received a printed guide from Wallace
Bailey on win+er birding on Cape Cod. This proved to be an indlspensible aid to
birding this area. We also received a letter from Blair Nlkula, Informing us that
a European Wigeon had been seen at Gloucester.
Our plane arrived in Boston on Dec. 20, at 4:30 a.m. It was 14° and snowing. We
picked up our rental car and headed for Gloucester to find our wigeon. Arriving at
Gloucester shortly after daylight, we found our first lifer at the harbor. It was
an adult Iceland Gull. We then headed for Niles Pond, the reported stopping place
of the wigeon, but found only Brants, Black Ducks, Herring Gulls, etc. No wigeon.
We then headed south toward the Cape. We stopped at Plymouth and the nearby Manomet
Bird Observatory, and found our first Common Eiders.
According to the booklet, one of the key points to check was Provlncetown In northern Cape Cod. We birded at the quaint historical town several times. The first
new bird that we sighted was a tiny gull, only slightly larger than a Least Tern,
a Little Gull. This bird was a welcome relief from a steady sighting of Greater
Black Backs and Herring Gulls. Next we found Great Cormorants, a Razorbill, and a
The next two days were frustrating, for we were primarily looking for Snow Buntings
and Gannets (the bird that we had looked for so many times from the Quintana Jetty).
The only unusual bird that we found was a Mew Gull, that we located at Crystal Lake,
which was not a lifer. Finally on the 24th, after walking the dunes at Marconi
Station for the third day, we spied two female Snow Buntings, and Martha observed
four males flying away from her.
Two days later at Race's Point we found our Gannets with the help of four birders
from Provincetown. We had three in our glasses at one time. We were then told of
a Thick-billed Murre in the Provincetown harbor. We immediately went to the wooden
pier, and sure enough, Larry found his 600th North American Bird, the Thick-billed
The morning had been sunny with the wind from the southeast, but suddenly the wind
began to shift, first from the northeast, then from the northwest. We felt it
might be well to check the Fort Hill area, a marshy area right behind the beach on
the east side of the Cape. While walking the trail, Martha noticed a dark hawklike bird flying In from the beach. It circled above our heads several times
while we carefully checked it with our binoculars. We then recalled what we had
read In a recent Issue of Birding, and Identified It as a Great Skua. He circled
about the area for about ten minutes. It had been a good day.
The next morning we drove to Hyannis and took the ferry to Nantucket. We observed
many Oldsquaw, Scoters and Common Elders on the way. After arriving In Nantucket,
we settled In our room, and phoned Edith Andrews, the CBC compiler at Nantucket.
She told us she had found "our bird" for us. We had wrlt+en +o her that we hoped
+o find a Sawwhet Owl a+ Nan+ucke+. She met us and led us +o a small pine forest
then straight to the proper tree. There, looking down at us, was a beautiful little
owl. We looked at him and he looked at us for ten minutes. Martha felt like hugging Edith, for 1+ was Martha's 600th bird. She also told us of a European Wigeon