by Mike Austin
Since 1981, to herald the onset of "fall" birding,
I have done an informal survey of Magnificent
Frigatebirds in West Galveston Bay each July. At
first I had no Questar telescope, so the results may
have been skewed downwards a little.
My route starts at the boat launch on Sportsman's Road for auld lang syne, since it was here
I saw my life frigatebird July 1, 1979. (My, how
time flies.) Usually the most productive area is
Karankawa Reef, where posts mark the navigational
obstruction. This area is at the northeast corner
of Galveston State Park. Finally, I census the posts
off San Luis Pass, which, this year, were more productive than Karankawa Reef.
I used to end the day with a little shorebirding
at the Pass sandflats, but the last two years there's
been a "new" bird to census—Brown Pelican. If my
first two years are any indication they're doing
quite nicely, thank you, with about 1/3 of the birds
observed being immature.
Here are the numbers:
Year Magnificent Frigatebird Brown Pelican
1981 14 0
1982 15 0
1983 15 0
1984 19 0
1985 35 0
1986 41 0
1987 8 0
1988 28 23
1989 36 67
MUSEUM OF NAT. SCIENCE CLASSES/TRIPS
The Houston Museum of Natural Science is
offering several kinds of classes and short field trips
this fall and winter. For children there is a series
of courses in natural science, beginning in October.
Registration deadline is September 23.
In conjunction with the exhibit, "The Legacy
Endures: Conserving Waterfowl and Wetlands," there
will be an exhibition of carving birds from wood,
and finishing them with paint. For children there
is also a class in sculpting. Both of these will
take place on October 7.
For adults there is a series of one-day field
trips with Bill Goloby, focusing on birds, and a two-
day field trip to Aransas to see Whooping Cranes.
There is a fee for all of the above except the
woodcarving - (museum admission only). For more
information visit the literature table at the meeting
September 5; or call the museum at 639-4600; or
for the Whooper trip only call 639-4651.
SCIENCE CENTER BIRDING CLASS
The R.L. Vines Science Center is offering
a class for birders with some previous experience
consisting of an evening orientation and two field
trips. Instructors are Carl Aiken and Randy Beavers.
To find out the cost and times for these November
sessions consult the brochure on the literature table
at the October 3 meeting or call 465-9628.
AUGUST FIELD TRIP TO BOLIVAR FLATS
by Nancy Patrick
The August OG field trip met at the Bolivar
Ferry landing at 7:30 a.m. on August 12, with
David Dauphin leading. The approximately 30 birders were each presented with a brand-new 1989
checklist before the trip began. David led the
Group to Bolivar Flats, stopping briefly en route to
view the Gull-billed Tern, beautiful Reddish Egrets,
a pair of Black-shouldered Kites, and a few other
species. When the birders arrived at the flats they
were greeted by an Osprey just taking flight.
During the course of the morning the group
saw Piping, Semipalmated, Wilson's and Black-bellied
Plovers, Willets, American Oystercatchers, Black
Skimmers, Marbled Godwits, Long-billed Dowitchers,
Dunlins, Ruddy Turnstones, Western and Semipalmated Sandpipers, five different terns, White and
White-faced Ibis and many other species. As the
group left the flats several Common Nighthawks
were observed both in flight and on several of the
fenceposts near the barrier. As a final treat, while
boarding the ferry, we saw a Magnificent Frigate-
bird soaring overhead.
ANDEAN CONDORS IN CALIFORNIA
[From Fish and Wildlife News, Nov-Dec-Jan, 1988-
1989, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service]
"Six endangered Andean condors are ready to
be released in December and January as stand-ins
for their endangered cousin, the California condor.
This is the Service's first major attempt to use a
surrogate species to aid the recovery of another...
Three young Andeans were released from their
pen and allowed to roam at will during December
at a remote site on Hopper Mountain National Wildlife Refuge about 75 miles northwest of Los Angeles.
The three were taken as chicks to the roost box on
August 20. They were produced by Andean parents
at the Service's Patuxent Wildlife Research Center,
the SanDiego Wild Animal Park, and the Buffalo,
New York, Zoo.
At a second release site, the U.S. Forest Service's nearby Sespe Condor Sanctuary, three more
Andeans, to be joined by a fourth bird this month,
will be released in January...
The seven Andeans, all females, to be joined
by another complement of up to 10 birds in the fall
of 1989, will pave the way for eventual release of
California condors, currently projected for the early
1990's. They will provide condor researchers with
a 2-year test of various release and tracking techniques to be applied later in the reestablishment of
California condors in their native habitat...Only
. females are being used to guard against establishment of a permanent Andean condor population in
California. When the experiment ends in 1990, all
of the birds will be recaptured and released in South
America to enhance their recovery in native habitat..."
David Klinger, Assistant Regional Director, Public Affairs