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Texas Mid-Coast December Staff Notes
Southwest Region, December 31, 2008
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Closing of the Dow Chemical Company donation of land to the refuge was completed at the end 2008.  This is a tract of 330 acres of excellent bottomland forest and bayou habitat just north of the City of Lake Jackson.  The tract is a key piece in an area of about 1800 acres of prime bottomland forest threatened by development.  The land will become an important public use area where trails and environmental education facilities could be built next to a high population area.  The realty staff is to be commended for their fast action on completing this transaction.  Dow needed the donation completed by January 1, 2009 and the deed was recorded on December 30, 2008.  Thanks should go to many Dow employees who understood the importance of the land to wildlife and the local community and made the extra effort to put together a plan for it's conservation.  These include Doug Whipple and Linda Bartholome with DOW.  Special thanks are due to  Realty staff members Nancy Unbehaun, Barbara Rose, Rick Jones, Billy Rasberry, Louis duBois, as well as Martin Steinmetz (DOI Solicitor). 

The overall trend for Christmas Bird Counts on the Texas Gulf Coast was to be down from average.  This is partly due to a low number of lingering migrants and other write-up species.  The complex is involved with two Christmas bird counts each year.  The Slop Bowl and the auto tour loop area of Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge are included in Area 5 of the Freeport CBC.  This was held on Sunday, December 14.  Overall the count was down from previous years, tallying 200 species observed this year relative to an all-time high of 226.  The “Bird of the Count” was a Ringed Kingfisher found by Ron Weeks on Dow Property west of 523.  Within Area 5 a total of 117 species were recorded.  Shorebird totals come from the Slop Bowl and from Rogers Pond, which is being kept very shallow to allow flushing of salinities prior to brood season.  The spreadsheet below is provided courtesy of Bob White, Area 5 leader.  Yellow rows in the table below indicate exclusives for Square Island Lake, adjacent to the refuge; all other data were collected on refuge property.

The San Bernard CBC was held Friday, December 19.  A total of 188 species were recorded on this count relative to an all-time high of 199.  Count notables include the Kelp Gull, noted on Sargent Beach which is apparently one of the places it may be located when birders cannot find it at Quintana or Surfside; Harris Sparrow, a Canadian nester that is not found every year on the coast; and two lingering migrants, Black-throated Green Warbler and Great-crested Flycatcher.  Volunteers, Ron Bisbee, Marty Cornell, Ed Barrios and Barbara Burkhardt provided the Countdown dinner as a superb ending to the day.

Grassland Songbird banding continued at Halls Bayou in December.  All three net lanes were run and a total of 48 sparrows (Savannah, LeConte's, Grasshopper) were banded.  This approximate 80% increase in birds captured correlates with an increase in tall grasses such as Indian Grass, Little Bluestem, and Bushy Bluestem, and tall forb cover (2.5 feet tall).

Contact Info: Jennifer Sanchez, 979 964-3639, jennifer_sanchez@fws.gov



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