Date: 9/5/20 9:12 am
From: <bertf...>
Subject: [texbirds] Re: the story of Travis County's first Red Phalarope
You are correct. The birding group was Alan Brook, Bill Murray, Frank Oatman, John Louis Rowlett, and Rose Ann Rowlett. The bird was photographed and some suggest that Mary Anne McClendon was the photographer. I have not seen the photograph and do not know if it still exists. The captured bird was later released, but then recaptured again when it was found emaciated and later died 18 Sep. --- Bert

From: <texbirds-bounce...> <texbirds-bounce...> On Behalf Of Fred Dalbey (Redacted sender "fdalbey" for DMARC)
Sent: Saturday, September 5, 2020 11:03 AM
To: <bertf...>
Cc: <texbirds...>
Subject: [texbirds] Re: the story of Travis County's first Red Phalarope

Of course, the “John” swimming in the sewage pond to capture the phalarope was John Rowlett, one of the founders of Field Guides Birding Tours.

On Sep 5, 2020, at 9:43 AM, <bertf...> <mailto:<bertf...> > <bertf...> <mailto:<bertf...> > wrote:


I have been reading old issues of Signal Smoke and came across this interesting account of Travis birders attempting to identify a new species for the county.

Signal Smoke, October 1963, "Birding with The Beavers. The afternoon of September 15, found us at the Sewage Ponds, ... Then we noticed two phalaropes swimming close together in the center of the largest pond. We immediately recognized that they were quite dark-backed and generally had the appearance of Northern Phalaropes; but one of the birds was obviously much larger than the other. During the next hour of close scrutiny from the bank, we became more and more suspicious of that larger, grayer, stouter-billed phalarope.

"At last, suspicion grew into near conviction; and since a 'sanitary' reputation is worth even more points among birders than an eager one, we knew we must prove our potentially dangerous suspicion. In an act of utmost 'eager beaverism' John stripped to his underwear and went after the phalarope in its own element. John's slowly moving head must have looked like a duck, for the two phalaropes showed virtually no alarm at his approach. They simply swam slowly away, keeping just beyond arm's length.

"After about 40 minutes of dog-paddling, John was inches closer. He reached slowly upward beneath the bird and -- and he had it! What wild, ecstatic joy, what cries and leaps into the air from the beavers on the bank accompanied his grasp of that bird, of that Red Phalarope. And a Red Phalarope, indeed, it was, as Kincaid was soon to certify after careful measurement and comparison with Ridgeway. A search of the literature revealed that this normally pelagic species had been recorded but 7 or 8 times in Texas and, of course, never in Travis County. - The Beavers"

Bert Frenz

Oaks & Prairies of Texas

eBird reviewer, Central Prairie of Texas

eBird reviewer, Belize

NAB subregional editor, Central Oaks & Prairies of Texas

<Bert2...> <mailto:<Bert2...> <>

Join us on Facebook!