VOLUME 1 - NUMBEtt(£)
During November we sent you Frank Watson8s report to Audubon Field Notes for the
Summer Season of 1952. Following is his report on Fall Migration, 1952s
South Texas Region - In September the drought of the summer was broken in the southern
part of the region by rains which approached normal for the area and by torrential rains
in the Colorado and Guadalupe River watersheds in the central part of the area. In the
upper coastal area rainfall averaged about half normal, which was not sufficient to overcome the prevailing dry conditions. In October dry conditions were resumed. There was
no significant rainfall in the South Texas Region and average precipitation for the state
was 0.03 inch, which is the lowest of record for any month in Texas weather history,, The
dry conditions resulted in forest and marsh grass fires which covered the northeastern
part of the region with a pall of smoke for a number of days in October. In September
and early October hordes of army worms defoliated hundreds of acres of stunted grass in
the Trinity River marshes. This provided a banquet for many birds, especially plovers,
sandpipers, and pipits. The tables were turned in November since rainfall averaged
almost twice normal. Water levels returned to normal and drought conditions were completely overcome. In August, September, and early October there were three mild cool
fronts which reached the Gulf Coast. No pronounced migratory waves were noted in connection with these and apparently the bulk of the shorebirds, small flycatchers, vireos,
warblers, and other early migrants passed almost without notice. From October 6 to
December 19 cool fronts averaged about one per week and were of greater severity.
Particularly strong ones were three which originated in the Rocky Mountain Region and
which reached the Gulf Coast on November 10, November 18, and November 25, respectively.
By that time most species present here only as migrants had departed, however many
species arriving for the winter came in unprecedented numbers and several species
extended their migration routes eastward or their wintering grounds southward and eastward as a result of the strong cold fronts of November. Species concerned are primarily
among the hawks and finches. Since so many are concerned they will be noted only in the
body of the report. Contributors to this report ares John W. Aldrich (U.S. Fish &
Wildlife Service, Washington, D. C), Mrs. Myrtle Braman, Keith L. Dixon, C. T. Gill,
Luther C. Goldman, Werner Gottsch, Mrs. Jack Hagar, Joe M. Heiser, Jr., Julian A. Howard,
Mrs. Minor A. Hurst. Marshall C. Johnston, Edgar B. Kincaid, Jr., Fred W. Loetscher, Jr.
(Danville, Kentucky), Arlie K. McKay, Charles H. McNeese, Mrs. Edna W. Miner, Richard S.
Payne, Raymond Racki, Kit Roberts, Jule R. Schmidt, Frank G. Watson, Stephen G. Williams,
and Armand Yramategui.
Loons. Grebes. Pelicans, Herons, and Ibises. - The only report of the Common Loon
was from Rockport where it arrived November 29 (JH)0 The Horned Grebe was seen at Cove
a day later (AKM). On September 20 Stephen Williams and Lawrence Tabony rescued a
starved sub-adult Gannet from the surf at Galveston. The bird lived on fish at the
Williams1 home where it gained strength. It was subsequently released near the point
of capture on October 10. This was apparently the third record for the Gannet in Texas.
The last Reddish Egret was reported on October 25 and the last Green Heron on September
21, both at Cove. (AKM). The American Bittern arrived at Cove on September 6 (AKM) and
at Galveston on September 20 (SGW). The Roseate Spoonbill stayed at Rockport until
December 12 (JH).
Geese and Ducks. - September rains filled impoundments on the Laguna Atascosa
Refuge. This fresh water supply and the greatly increased acreage of farmland of railo
maize and other small grains in the lower Rio Grande Valley were especially inviting
to ducks and geese this fall. Their numbers on Laguna Atascosa Refuge were greater
than in any previous year. When the water fowl peak was reached the third week in
October, between 450,000 and 500,000 ducks and 7*000 geese were present. Pintails
were present in greatest number, however, about 100,000 were Redheads. Canada Geese
were estimated at 2,800, White-fronted Geese 2,400, Snow Geese 1,750, and Blue Geese
150 (LCG). Canada Geese arrived at Cove October 11 (AKM) and at Rockport October 16 (JH),
White-fronted Geese were seen migrating at Cove on five days between October 5 and
November 22 (AKM) and at Austin on October 23 (RSP). Snow Geese were first reported at
Cove on September 28 when five were seen (AKM). On October 5 flocks numbering in the
hundreds were reported going over Cove (AKM), Houston (SGW), and New Caney (WG). On