corrections on the trip reports; Iowa

To: Birding Aus <>
Subject: corrections on the trip reports; Iowa
From: Denise Goodfellow <>
Date: Tue, 23 Jun 2009 13:21:31 +0930
Dear All
Thank you for your positive response to the trip reports.  I¹m including
some more below.

A few corrections and explanations.  I misidentified one hummingbird.  Those
I saw in La Canada (not La Candida!), were Anna's Hummingbird,   I¹ve
photographs of an adult and an immature male.

I had very good views of the bird that I identified as a cardinal on the
train trip between Oaklands and LA.  I did realise that, according to my
American field guides, it was out of range.   I understand that cardinals
are expanding their range north and west, so maybe this was one of the

I did mean Hutton¹s Vireo, not Hunter¹s Vireo.  I also realise the Gc
warbler migrated.  I meant to write ³indigenous², as so many of my Texan
friends wanted to to claim it as theirs alone, and can only plead severe jet

We were met at Omaha Airport by Lyn Silcock. Lyn and her husband, Ross live
across the border in Iowa, just forty or so miles away.  Ross runs birding
tours to New Zealand.  They live in Tabor, a small town with a big history.
In the 1800s Tabor residents opened their homes to fleeing slaves, a fact
recorded in a park near to the Silcock home.
That afternoon we all attended a junior soccer match - one of the Silcock
grandchildren was playing in the under 6 team.  It was very cold, but the
sun was shining and we were well-rugged up.  After the game we attended the
presentation of medals at a nearby stadium.  But beforehand Ross, Michael
and I squeezed in some birding, and we got our first view of an American
Goldfinch, a butter-yellow male.  It was followed by Brown Thrasher, a large
brown bird with a long sickle-shaped bill.  This specimen sat high in a
tree, virtually out of sight, and we took several minutes to see it
properly. There was also an Orchard Oriole, a bird we'd seen previously at
the Hornsby Sewage Ponds.
My first lecture was to the Fremont County Historical Society in the nearby
small town of Sidney.  The venue was a neat little church that had been
restored by the Society.  It was quite well-attended for a tiny town, mostly
by senior farming couples and  families with children.  One family was
intending to travel to Australia and consequently asked  many questions
about where they could see the most wildlife.

One surprise was the appearance of a couple I¹d guided several years ago.
Dean and Sandy had travelled for five hours just to hear me speak. Another
couple who came to see me in Los Angeles, Anne Coulston and Bob Marcus, had
come out birding with me in 1989!

The next morning Ross took Michael and me to the Tabor Sewage Ponds.  On the
way we had our first good view of a Dickcissel.  A flock had turned up at
Meredith and Jim's place outside San Antonio, but I'd been unable to get a
good look at them and Michael hadn¹t seen them at all.  A neat little bird.
A small flock of  Black Terns were feeding at the ponds.   There were also
many sparrows including Clay-coloured, Harris, White-throated,Song, and
Chipping, and Baltimore Oriole. Again we saw Canada Geese and Spotted
Sandpiper.  Michael and I visited a few days later and I took photos of the
terns, and of Eastern Kingbird and Yellow-rumped Warbler.
Another day Ross took us to  Indian Cave State Park.  Standing high on a
hill we spotted a flock of wild turkeys, and then Summer and Scarlet
tanagers - startlingly beautiful birds.  In the grass below the hill were
several different birds, including Grasshopper Sparrow. On a gate sat
Red-headed Woodpecker, a rather glamorous bird with a head that glowed like
a hot sun against the cool greens of the trees and grass behind.  Above our
heads perched a Blue Grosbeak, another bird dressed in beautiful, improbable
colours.  We also saw Rose-breasted Grosbeak and Northern Flicker.
In the woods we went searching for Kentucky Warbler.  There were quite a few
birds moving about, mostly Redstarts. We finally saw the bird as well as
Yellow and Magnolia warblers, Red-eyed and Warbling vireos,  and Great
Crested Flycatcher.  But a search for Northern Parula and Cerulean Warbler,
both calling, proved rather fruitless.

Indian Cave, a rather shallow but very picturesque cave surrounded by dense
forest, had been a resting place for various groups of Indigenous Americans
who had carved petroglyphs in the walls. However much was obscured by
graffiti, a rather sad sight considering the pristine state of Aboriginal
art in much of the Top End.

As we were leaving the park I spotted a large black, white and red bird
flying about 70 metres from us ­ Pileated Woodpecker, at last! We also saw
Swainson's Hawk.

My last lecture in this part of the US was at the Omaha Audubon Society¹s
annual dinner.  About 200 members of the OAS and another group ­ the Down &
Dirty Birders attended.  Framed photographs of wildlife and scenery, taken
by members, were displayed on tables around the walls.  These were to be
judged by other members who noted their favourites on slips of pink paper.
The winners were announced later in the evening, and there were some very
nice prizes, for instance a large coffee table book on American birds.

Fortunately the microphone worked, a necessity in a large room and my soft
voice, and the  lecture was received quite well (here, I¹m happy to quote
Ross Silcock who called it a ³great success²!).
The next morning, very early again, we left for North Carolina.  We were
rather sad to leave Ross and Lyn as we¹d grown to like them and their
wonderful family very much.

Several American airlines now have a policy of charging for checked luggage.
And so many passengers take extra luggage, including suitcases, into the
cabin.  This means that unless one is on the plane first, your locker space
is  already taken.  This meant that on the flight to Omaha, Nebraska, our
hand luggage had to be stored in a locker away from us.  This worried me as
we had all our camera and recording gear as well as my PhD questionnaires in
our bags.

On the flight to Charlotte, North Carolina, we were even less lucky with our
hand luggage, and it ended up stored at the back of the plane.  I suggest to
anyone  in a similar position to request  seats at the back of the plane.
These are generally filled first and you'll be able to store your hand
luggage before most others board.

Denise Lawungkurr Goodfellow
PO Box 3460 NT 0832, AUSTRALIA
Ph. 61 08 89 328306
Mobile: 04 386 50 835

Birdwatching and Indigenous tourism consultant
PhD Candidate


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