Sunday, January 25, 2015

Eurasian Wigeon

Last weekend I spent Sunday morning birding Lake Creek Trail. I ran into Barry Noret and we had a banner morning totaling 61 species of birds! The most exciting by far was a new bird for Lake Creek Trail, Williamson County, and a lifer (a species we've never seen before) for us both. At about 11:30 we were scanning the creek upstream from the last dam when I saw a duck with a red head. Initially I thought it was a Redhead, a common winter-resident duck on the Texas coast and a little less common inland. But as it turned towards me I could see that its forehead and crown were bright light yellow, like an American Wigeon's white forehead and crown. I also saw that the tail and feathers in front of the tail were black, followed by white a little further up the body, exactly like an American Wigeon. Barry looked it up and realized it was a Eurasian Wigeon! This is the American Wigeon's counterpart in the other hemisphere. They show up occasionally on the east and west coasts of the Americas, but they show up in Texas much less often. I got this distant photo, and we decided to refrain from getting closer and risk scaring the bird away.

Eurasian Wigeon - 3

So far, this bird has not been seen again since early afternoon on that same day. But it certainly could still show up on the creek again. Here it is in front of a Northern Pintail:

Eurasian Wigeon - 2

This was species number 223 on my neighborhood list. Back in 2006 when I started keeping bird records in this neighborhood, I never imagined I'd reach 200. But Lake Creek Trail keeps surprising me. In fact, we found species 222 a little earlier that morning.
Up by the Parmer Village pond, we heard a couple low croaks and then saw two Common Ravens fly right over us. Common Ravens aren't so common in Austin. You can find them now and then almost exclusively west of MoPac, but this was the first time I've observed them in our neighborhood.

Here are a few more photos from this banner morning:

Red-shouldered Hawk near a nest it's building near the Braes Valley parking lot:
Red-shouldered Hawk

Northern Cardinal eating Chinese Tallow berries:
Northern Cardinal Eating Chinese Tallow Berries

Northern Shovelers on the Parmer Village pond:
Northern Shovelers

Here are the above photos and a few more from that morning.
And here is our complete bird list.


Unknown said...

Great find! A shame we didn't see it today but me and my husband were just as happy to see the Northern pintail Thanks again. :)

Ryan Boston said...

Hello Mikael. I'm a fellow denizen of Greater Milwood but I was out at Lake Travis yesterday, and I think your Eurasian Wigeon was out there too, around West Beach Marina in Hudson Bend. American Wigeons were about, but this one had a distinct two-tone red head with pale forehead. I was doubting my own eyes/judgment until I saw positive documentation of the species in the area from those more knowledgeable than myself.

Mikael Behrens said...

Thanks Ryan! I've forwarded your report to the Texbirds email list. Doubtless a few Austin-area birders will be looking for that duck on Lake Travis soon!