Date: 9/5/20 10:47 am From: Brush Freeman <brushfreeman...> Subject: [texbirds] Re: the story of Travis County's first Red Phalarope
We have pondered over that story for years, I can't fathom it. There was
no digester then. Sewage came in right out of the pipe. ..The good stuff.
......... Related story to that....I was birding out there with Greg
Lasley once before the Dillo Dirt concrete contaminants and we discovered a
nesting Black-neck Stilt. Greg wanted to photograph it as it was the first
nesting record for Travis county..(?) The nest was well out from the
earthen berm. The surface looked sturdy enough, dry, cracked, and even
supporting scattered vegetation, so he took off after the nest but before
long that's surface gave way and he was thigh-deep in black sludge the
consistency of pudding. Greg is never one to shy away from an adventure
and I hope he does not mind me telling this.........Then there was the guy
one weekend in a tractor that rn out of gas in the middle of deep sludge
and could not get back to shore...This was before cell phone and he had sat
out there all day hoping he could flag someone down....That's another story
though.. Then the "It's a dirty job but someone has to do it" guy....It
is amazing how many people have purposely entered that realm of sludge.
On Sat, Sep 5, 2020 at 11:11 AM <bertf...> wrote:
> 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...> <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