Watch Volunteers for Monitoring Project
Are you looking for some exciting birding in mid-August along the coast in Texas when it is absolutely miserable with humidity and biting insects? If so, we have just the event. As part of the two-year citizen-science survey and monitoring project on Swallow-tailed Kites sponsored by Texas Parks and Wildlife, Texas Partners In Flight, Temple-Inland Forest and the U.S. Forest Service, we are hosting a Swallow-tailed Kite Watch! on the weekend of August 14-15 all along the coastal prairies of Texas. We hope that other Gulf States will join in as well. We need volunteers to be stationed at one of the many towers/platforms/sites for this survey. We have 10 sites on board so far all along the coast in Texas--from the Sabine NWR (in Louisiana just east of the LA/TX border) all the way to the Lower Rio Grande Valley.
Most of our sites are concentrated on the Upper Texas Coast where the majority of the birds are expected to be detected, but that's what this event is all about--to see where they are going and in what kind of numbers! All sites will be expected to watch the skies from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. both Saturday and Sunday. We feel that we can capture a good picture of what's going on during this peak time of Swallow-tailed Kite southbound migration. This leaves time in the late afternoon for some extracurricular birding like seeking out shorebirds that will be in good numbers then.
Gael Simons will be coordinating the towers/platforms/sites and will be plugging volunteers into each site as field assistants (more eyes to find those high-flying raptors). There will be a captain or two at each site and they will need some help watching the skies. Things you will need include cold water, bug spray, sun screen, hat, binoculars and some friends or family to join in. We realize that the outdoor conditions will be miserable, but Swallow-tailed Kite Fall Migration peaks a full month or more before the accipiters, broad-wingeds and others. Thanks to a pilot survey in 1998 by Dick Benoit, we feel that we've picked the best date for such an event.
We have lookout points ready to go at the following locations: (1) Sabine NWR in Cameron Parish, LA., (2) J.D. Murphree WMA west of Port Arthur in Jefferson Co., (3) Lower Neches WMA near Bridge City in Orange Co., (4) Smith Point Hawk Watch Tower at the Candy Abshire WMA in Chambers Co., (5) Lake Anahuac area in Chambers Co., (6) Sea Rim SP and/or McFaddin NWR in Jefferson Co., (7) Lake Jackson area in Brazoria Co., (8) Hazel Bazemore Park near Corpus Christi in Nueces Co., (9) on or near the Sabal Palm Grove Sanctuary in Brownsville in Cameron Co., (10) Santa Ana NWR near Edinburg in Hidalgo Co. and hopefully more. If you know of another great vantage point to recommend, please let us know BUT we will hope that you can also be the captain of that site. We need muscle!
Hope to see you out-and-about in the good ol' Texas summer heat! The Swallow-tailed Kites sure will be.