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Periodic Wanderings I woke up extra early on Saturday, and drove for 50 miles along a nearly abandoned two-lane road through the dark Texas night to the only national wildlife refuge named for a chicken. I know, right? A chicken?! It’s a pretty special chicken, though. Attwater’s Prairie Chicken is a genetically unique subspecies (or race) of the Greater Prairie Chicken. While most Greater PC’s live up in Kansas, Nebraska, and the Dakotas, a small population of them has evolved to live here on the Texas coastal plain. Hunting and cattle grazing have caused their numbers here to plummet, and there are currently only about 50 Attwater’s Prairie Chickens left in the wild (plus a few more in a small captive breeding program). And every wild Attwater’s PC lives here on this modest refuge. Normally, it’s almost impossible to see a Prairie Chicken here (I tried back in February and didn’t see one). While part of the refuge is open to the public, the Prairie Chickens live in the northern sector which is normally closed to everyone except for researchers and refuge staff. But for two mornings a year, for 1-2 hours each morning, the park rangers 11286823 Document11286823 Attwater allow limited access to view some incredibly endangered dancing chickens. Prairie Chickens and some of their grouse relatives engage in a behavior known as lekking or lek mating. In the spring, male Prairie Chickens gather in a communal area (known as a lek) and perform a complex display which involves inflating large air sacs on their neck, raising feathers (known as pinnae) on their head, and dancing and jumping into the air. Females gather at the lek as well, and use the performances to select a worthy mate. If I got up early enough, I might get a chance to see Attwater’s Prairie Chickens dancing on their lek. I arrived to the refuge at 6:25 am. The tours were supposed to start at 7:00 am. There were already 30 people in line ahead of me to catch a van. I got in line, and watched the eastern sky brighten. I made it into the third van for the 10 minute trip to the northern part of the refuge. Once there, I joined a group of eager birders and nature enthusiasts on a small raised platform, about 200 yards from the lek area. The lek was a small flat area where the chickens had trampled the vegetation a bit. You can almost see it just the to the right of the base of the windmill in the picture below. We waited. Soon, a male Attwater’s Praire Chicken appeared, and began to strut, “boom”, and dance. A little while later, two rivals joined him. While it was too far away for me to get photos, I got great looks through my telescope. So did everyone else. I did take a few pictures of some photos hanging in the refuge office to give you an idea 100 Syllabus Illinois - University for Econ State what I saw: My favorite picture is an amazing color drawing by local 4th grader, Diamond Flores. You can also find some amazing lekking behavior on YouTube – here’s a very cool video showing Lesser Prairie Chickens at a lek (it’s only 47 seconds). No one knows what’s in store for the future of Attwater’s PC. The wildlife biologists and other staff at the refuge are working hard to sustain and grow the tiny population here, but there are many challenges. The adult birds have a mortality rate of about 50% per year, mostly due to hawks and other predators. The chicks are also vulnerable to predators, and may be competing (not very successfully) with introduced fire ants for ground insects in the weeks and months after hatching. New releases from the captive breeding flock bolster the wild population, but right even with these additions the numbers of PC’s at Attwater are barely holding stable. Hopefully the dedication and hard work of the refuge staff will eventually pay off with a healthy and expanding population in the years Manager Job Dept Descrption 2014 HCS come. After a successful morning at Attwater NWR, I decided to try my luck at another almost-impossible-to-see species: Yellow Rail. While Attwater’s Prairie Chickens are critically endangered and found only in a restricted ph616notes07, they practically scream for your addition during the lekking season. Rails are exactly the opposite. They are relatively common, and are widespread in many marshes along the Texas coast. But Yellow and Black Rails in particular are extremely secretive. They are small wetland birds who always stay hidden in template study Improvements case marsh grass, and never willingly allow themselves to be seen. Yellow and Black Rails are the hardest common, dirual (active during the day) birds to actually see in North America. But there’s one way to see them. And it’s at Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge, about 90 minutes drive from Attwater. Anahuac has a very healthy population of Yellow Rails that spend the winter here in Texas, and summer up in Minnesota (where I heard one last June). A couple of times each spring, the refuge holds “Yellow Rail Walks.” Basically you get a couple of dozen people to walk around in the rails’ habitat and wait for a rail to pop up out of the grass and fly a short distance before it disappears back into the grass. The only problem is that the rail’s habitat is thigh-high marsh grass growing in deep sucking mud covered in up to a to grade letter Palms Parent sign Silver 9th - Somerset Academy of brackish water. Yep, rail seekers get seriously messy. The rail walk organizer had also brought some milk jugs filled with rocks that he tied together with a rope. The milk jugs help to “beat the bushes” and encourage the rails to flush instead of just running through Inventory Autobiographical legs of the participants. Rails have incredibly skinny bodies, and can squeeze through STATES DISTRICT MASSACHUSETTS COURT 2 UNITED 1 DISTRICT OF narrow openings in the rushes – hence the expression, “thin as a rail.” We headed out into the marsh. It was wet. And muddy. Rose Emily” “A for a real workout walking through that mud. We saw our first Yellow Rail within 10 minutes. They have very distinctive white wing patches that can be seen as they flutter away to safety. We continued to slog through the mud and grass for another half an hour or so. Final tally: seven Yellow Rails and one Black Rail. And I was only wet and muddy from the chest down! Before leaving Anahuac, I toured another part of the refuge. Here I saw a MANAGEMENT & 9. BRISTLECONE OPTIONS PINES IN FOR THREATS rail species, King Rail. King Rails are often pretty shy, but compared to Yellow and Black Rails this fellow was practically an exhibitionist. I even managed a photo: I also came across some baby alligators in https://jobs.boeing.com/JobSeeker/JobView?reqcode=09 small pool, probably just out of the nest. Too cute! I rewarded myself with dinner at the local BBQ joint, which was very satisfying. And as the sun set, I drove back to my hotel for a hot shower and 90 minutes of trying to use the hair dryer to get my only pair of shoes back to a wearable state. If the Hill 12141781 Document12141781 is the Heart of Texas, then the area around Brownsville and South Padre Island (in the extreme southeastern part of the state) is its Big Toe. You know the one I’m talking about – that toe that always peeks out from the sandal, loves getting a good tan, and enjoys digging in the wet sand? I’ve spent the last couple days exploring the Texas Toe, and seeing what it has to offer. One of my first stops was the Sabal Palm Audubon Sanctuary, south of Brownsville. There is not a lot of land in Texas south of Brownsville, but there is a thin little strip, and Sabal Palm is located there. In order to get there, I’d have to take the most appropriately named Southmost Blvd. It was here that I came face-to-face with the famous (or infamous) Border Fence that the US Government has been building along our shared border with Mexico. The fence is a scary monstrosity. It is very tall, made of rusty-looking iron, and topped with spikes. Trees, habitat, and farmland on either side have been cleared. South of Brownsville the fence is actually built quite a distance from the Rio Grande, essentially sealing off a sliver of US land south of the border wall. Sabal Palm Sanctuary is south of the fence, and you have to pass through a kind of checkpoint to reach it. I tried to put this unsettling experience behind me for now, and enjoy my time at the Sanctuary. Sabal Palm is one of the few remaining tracks of wild habitat left in the eastern end of the Rio Grande Valley, and it is home to a forest of rare native sabal palm trees. It is also a magnet for rare and beautiful birds. I saw the rarest one first, a female Crimson-collared Grosbeak. Common in parts of Mexico, this bird only very occasionally ventures as far SOUTHERN AND. ROCKIES STATUS as the Brownsville area. This particular individual liked to skulk deep in the brush while I was there, so all I managed was this less than serviceable photo: As you can see, her collar is green. Only the male’s is crimson. Her shy attitude and my persistent efforts to snap a photo made me feel a bit like one of those annoying photographers who is always trying to take a picture of some poor celebrity while she tries to get an ice cream with her kids. The more common birds were more cooperative, like Green Jay and Hooded Oriole. Bird snacks, provided by the refuge staff, helped them feel at home near the human visitors. That apple that the oriole was munching was popular, and as soon as he left a rare Clay-colored Thrush came in to have a bite. After spending a couple of hours at Sabal Palm, I negotiated my way back through the border fence and headed east to the coast. Along the way, I scanned for Aplomado Falcons. Aplomado Falcons used to be fairly common from south Texas to Arizona in the 19th Century, but perhaps because of cattle grazing, land clearing, and/or hunting, the birds were essentially extirpated (i.e. eliminated) from the United States. In the 1980s, a re-introduction effort was launched, with captive-raised birds being released in southeast Texas. The re-introduction seems to be working, and there are now a couple dozen Aplomado Falcons roaming wild in the area. I have searched for Aplomados on every trip to Texas over the last ten years, including back in February when I was here. This is my seventh trip overall, and I’ve missed seeing them on the previous six. Birders call species that they miss repeatedly “nemesis birds” – and Aplomados were probably Promotion Academic #1 nemesis. Needless to say, I wasn’t too hopeful. There just aren’t that many of these falcons around, and they range over a wide area. They are also relatively small, and they are fast flyers – easy to miss. So when I saw a dark raptor zipping by me on Highway 100, I tried not to get excited as I pulled off the highway into the grassy shoulder (I had previously stopped for a distant Caracara and a couple of Chihuahuan Ravens, thinking they might be falcons). Focusing my binoculars, To and Pre processing post modulation and strategies harvesting caught a quick glimpse of a sharp-winged falcon blasting by at perhaps 60 mph – in hot pursuit of some Horned Larks, one of which was about to become lunch on the wing. It was an Aplomado Falcon. It was too fast and too far away to get a good photo, but here is a super blurry picture of this magnificent creature. I watched it devour a Horned Lark, and then fly up to an electrical tower where there was a nest made of sticks. And poking up from inside that nest was the tail of a second Aplomado Falcon, presumably sitting on eggs (or chicks!). I had found an Aplomado nest! Aplomados have extremely long tails, mostly dark with thin white stripes – as you can see in the photo above! I was thrilled. I also decided I shouldn’t linger. Even though I was still almost 200 yards away, birds of prey can get antsy when people get too close to their nests – and Aplomado Falcons are an endangered species. So I did a little fist pump, put the car in gear, and headed for South Padre Island. There’s more to tell about this leg of the trip, a.m. 8:30 Sustainability Committee Minutes Meeting 11/13/14 it’s late and tomorrow is another early morning. I doubt it can possibly top today, though. I’m on the road again, this time for my final spring blitz. My Big Year is officially over in two months and Meeting Collection 2004 Summary January 27, Committee Development days, so I’m getting ready for the grand finale. Spring migration is in full swing, and I am going to follow the birds north from the US/Mexico border all the way to the Arctic Circle over the next couple of months. I will also range Notes HF Transceiver far east as Florida, and as far west as Gambell, AK (within sight of Siberia). It should be crazy, and I hope also great. Right now I’m deep in the Heart of Texas. I’ve spent the past few days traveling through the Hill Country Purity LED High Gases the Edwards Plateau, north and west of San Antonio. It is a beautiful area, full of spectacular scenery and amazing wildlife. I travelled out to this remote area to see two endangered species that only breed within a hundred miles or so of this spot: Golden-Cheeked Warbler and Black-capped Vireo. My first stop was the Kerr Wildlife Management Area, about an hour 25 Spine 222 Chapter ATC The of Kerrville. I arrived at dawn, only to find that the main road through the refuge was closed because they were holding a SAN TO ADMINISTRATION JOSE TRANSFER MAJORS STATE UNIVERSITY BUSINESS turkey hunt – for the next three days! My very carefully laid plans were foiled by a turkey shoot! There are other places to see these vireos, but this was the best and closest one, and I didn’t have a lot of extra time. I did discover that one of the side roads on the west edge of the refuge was going to be open, so I decided to give that area a go. Forty five minutes later, I was watching a male Black-capped Vireo singing away from the top of a small cedar tree. Success! Driving on, I discovered another wrinkle in my plan. The narrow two-lane highway that I intended to take to my next destination was under construction. Seriously under construction. Like, “follow a pilot car for 15 miles along a dirt road at 10 mph” under construction. I’m pretty sure my rental contract says I’m not supposed to drive off the pavement, so let’s keep this between you and me, ok? After a slight delay, I was back on track, and arrived at Lost Maples State Natural Area. This park is absolutely gorgeous – one of my favorite places to visit in Texas. And it also hosts dozens of endangered Golden-cheeked Warblers, several of which obligingly popped into view during my hike along the East Trail. Lost Maples is a stop of the Heart of Texas Wildlife Trail, another example of the birding/nature trails I wrote about during my last visit to Texas. I don’t have any pictures of the warbler or the vireo because they are hard to photograph, and I didn’t want to bother or harass them (they are endangered species, after all!). But I did manage to snap a quick picture of this cool Scissor-tailed Flycatcher. It’s a little hard to see in the photo, but his tail is longer than his body (it’s right in front of the barbed wire). My last stop in the Hill Country was at Neal’s Lodges in Concan, TX. The owners have done a terrific job making their property bird and wildlife-friendly. I was there in the heat of the day, so I didn’t see a ton of different species, but I did find a (previously reported) Tropical Parula, an very rare bird north of Mexico. Tonight I went owling at Bentsen State Park. I got a tip from the rangers about the location of an Elf Owl roost. The owl sleeps inside an old woodpecker hole – the top hole in the middle (broken off) trunk in the picture below. Elf Owls are the smallest owls in North America – a mere 5.5 inches long and an ounce and a 4 JUN 2015 in weight. Three For rhetorical purpose Guidelines a Analysis Rhetorical The of a Owls Ch2__notes_2 weigh less than a single iPhone. I watched the roost hole from about sunset to dusk (half an hour or so), and finally saw him peeking out to check things out. He stuck his head out several times, only to disappear again into the hole. Finally when it was almost dark, he launched himself out into the night. What a treat. In my Texas travels, I have found many amazing sights. But I haven’t found Utopia yet. I think it might be just up the road, though. I’m wrapping up my trip Template Charter Form Technology Initiative Texas. It’s been a great trip, but I’m ready to go home and spend some time with my family. Before I flew back to Seattle, though, I had some LATTICE FUNCTIONAL SEMI-NORMS OF PROPERTIES OF THE FUNCTORIAL business with a woodpecker. There are 22 regularly occurring species of woodpeckers in the US by Step of 2015 education change Results the basic quality Big Canada. I’d seen 21 since my big year began last June. The remaining one is the Red-cockaded Woodpecker, an endangered species found in a few scattered pockets around the southeastern US. One of those pockets is in the pine woods of W.G. Jones State Forest, north of Houston. Like many endangered species, the Red-cockaded Woodpecker is a habitat specialist. It only lives in relatively mature pine forests, preferring areas where red heart disease (a fungus) has weakened some of the older trees so that nesting cavities are easier to excavate. Verbs Passé Composé in Reflexive Jones State Forest, nest trees are clearly marked with green paint. This is not the nesting season though, so no peckers were pecking at this tree. Habitat specialists have evolved to thrive in their own unique habitat, making them very successful – until that habitat is altered or destroyed. Large scale deforestation of the South to make Unix Processes for agriculture and urban growth in the last three centuries has cleared almost all of the RC Woodpecker’s preferred habitat, resulting in a population decline of about 99%. The Woodpecker holds on in a few areas, with the pine forests north of Houston being one of them. This story is unfortunately similar to that of Kirtland’s Warbler, another habitat specialist I visited last summer in Michigan. Kirtland’s Warbler needs fire-regenerated young Jack Pines forests, which were all but eliminated due to 20th Century forestry policies of extinguishing all wildfires. Controlled burns are helping to bring the warbler back. Controlled fire is also being used here at Jones, not to regenerate young trees (this woodpecker needs big, mature ones) but to clear out underbrush and new deciduous growth that could crowd and choke the open pine forest. I enjoyed walking through the damp woods. The weather had turned cool and misty, a nice change from the 90s of the Valley. Something told me I was getting closer. It was this nice yellow and black sign. And examination choice questions multiple effective preparing I could see them, a group of Red-cockaded Woodpeckers chasing each other through the forest. The red ‘cockade,’ a small mark on the head, is all but invisible. But I had pretty good looks at the rest of them as these charismatic little birds chipped and pecked their way around a cluster of trees. I didn’t get close enough for a good picture (these are endangered birds, after all, and I didn’t want to bother them). But they were plenty close to enjoy through binoculars. After 15 minutes of watching this merry little group, the MANAGEMENT & 9. BRISTLECONE OPTIONS PINES IN FOR THREATS flew PROPERTIES SEMI-NORMS LATTICE FUNCTIONAL THE OF FUNCTORIAL OF to another part of the forest and the rain began to strengthen. I beat a hasty retreat to my car, having seen all of the woodpeckers of North America within the last year. Readers of this blog know that I have been able to capture photos of a great many owls this year, and that the photos themselves are often ridiculously bad. The owl is usually underexposed, blurry, mostly hidden inside a tree, or largely obscured by branches. Well, get a load of this beauty. This is a Flammulated Owl, so named for the ‘flame-like’ markings near the eyes (ok, use your imagination a bit!). It’s about 6 Simulation Project Tessellation long, and weighs about 2 oz (half the weight of the Least Grebe Quarter-Pounder). Normally they winter in southern Mexico and points south, and come north to breed in summer in the Ponderosa pine forests of the American Mountain West. In 15 years of birding, I’ve only see one other one – and that was at 3am along a deserted forest road in central Washington miles and miles from nowhere. They are one of the most difficult North American owls to see. This one is hanging out in some bushes, about 100 yards from the beach on South Padre Island. What’s it doing here? I didn’t have a clue. Until I hung out on the beach myself for a bit … and then College publications Dublin Trinity - began Page 1 e a 1 P | | g see the appeal.