Hazel Bazemore Hawk Watch

Corpus Christi, Texas (Nueces County)

   
Hawk Watch held at Hazel Bazemore County Park
west of Corpus Christi, Texas in Nueces County

GPS Lat. 27°51'56.8" and Long. 97°38'33.8"

Fall watch hours 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, Central time
from August 14 - November 15
  
 map of Hazel Bazemore County Park location
(Farm-to-Market 624 at County Road 69)
   

photos of  Hazel Bazemore County Park watch sites

   

Preparing Backyard for an Enjoyable Bird Watching

Bird watching is an interesting activity that offers great pleasure. The colours, sounds and playful activities of birds can fill anyone’s heart with interest and joy.

If you and your family are interested in bird watching, you will have to create an environment that’ll attract birds. Here are some expert tips for enthusiastic birders.

  1. Birds love to play in the water. They also need water to quench their thirst. So the first requirement is to make arrangement for fresh water. Create fountains and pools surrounded by green foliage like hand bowls and containers from trees. This will attract birds to your backyard.
  2. Erect ventilated birdhouses at safe spots. Ensure that these are at a safe distance from predators.
  3. Provide multiple types of grains, seeds and suet in feeders. Erect multiple feeders at different places. Sugar water in hanging containers attracts a number of birds.
  4. Offer them food. Supply your backyard with a variety of native plants that can offer berries, seeds, nectar and nuts to birds.
  5. Do not uproot dead trees. Birds often nest in hollows and nooks of such dead vegetation.
  6. Give them a place to stay. Create a brush pile in some corner for birds to hunt roost and nest.
  7. Plant a variety of flowers and shrubs. A colourful environment is congenial for their growth.
  8. Be careful while mowing your lawn and cleaning long grass. There may be birds nesting in somewhere, especially if you're sitting on a ride on mower.
  9. Avoid the use of insecticides in your backyard. Insects are an easily available food that provides the birds with fats and proteins.

All preparations mentioned above will attract the birds to your backyard. Now you need to make some arrangement for a relaxed and enjoyable bird watching.

You will need a nice place on patio or a window from where the feeding station and water pool can be easily viewed. You will also need a good set of binoculars to observe their activities whether close or far away.

The third essentiality is a field guide, a person or a journal with pictures, to help you know your avian guests.


The Right Seating Arrangement for Bird Watching

Bird watching is as educative as it is interesting. Birders do not just watch birds. They get curious, observe, take pictures and videos and even make informative notes. Doing so will take a lot of time and birders need to remain comfortable while enjoying their hobby.

The right type seating arrangement is necessary for a satisfactory experience and real fun.  Your seating arrangement should not be too close to the birds’ visiting spots and not too far. The chairs, sofas, recliners or tripods should be stable and strong. They should also be comfortable. Creaky or shaky chairs may disturb the birds and scare them away.

If you are watching birds from your patio or terrace, you can easily drag your home recliner or sofa and keep an eye on the bird bath, feeding stations and other spots. Sitting relaxed on sofas and recliners will keep your neck rested and you can remain in one position for a long time.

If you are on a field trip and watching birds in their natural places-- on hills and in forests, you will need to carry a light weight foldable chair with you. These chairs can be easily strapped to the body. The four legs can be made to stand on a levelled ground and they offer an easy recline and rest to the body while looking up and watching birds for long durations of time.

Some enthusiastic birders go deep in wooden terrains and hilly regions to watch some specific species of birds. They take the help of hides that allows them a closer view of birds with minimum disturbances. They usually take tripods or bipods that can be placed inside the hides and allow them some rest while they concentrate on birds and their activities. Some others have chairs specially designed for their specific requirement.


An Eventful Day for Bird Watchers

Next month is the annual bird watching party of the community. It is going to be a memorable day with friends and neighbours who enjoy an intimate sharing of birding experience along with a fun barbeque meal.

The day will begin early as it is the best time for watching birds from the terrace when they forage in the garden for insects and seeds. We can observe sparrows at the feeders near the windows. The songs of Blackbird, Robin, Song thrush, Greenfinch and Goldfinch will offer entertainment as we sip our morning tea and get ready for the day.

The afternoon and the evening will be spent in the backyard where a steaming barbecue will be accompanied by tiny twitters of avian visitors who are found in abundant numbers here. The song birds will again be visible at their feeders in the late afternoon.

The evening will be devoted to an intimate talk with friends where birding experiences will be exchanged and shared. There will be a video session where the group will be entertained with interesting videos of birds and their unique activities.

The night will be a tour in the nearby bird sanctuary to watch the bird’s activities after dark. The great horned owl can be found there. There are many water birds, flamingos, herons and ducks in the natural lakes and will be a prized observation. Night vision binoculars and cameras will enable the group to have a close look at the night time behaviours of birds.

The day is expected to be eventful and fun packed for all interested bird watchers.


Background on the Corpus Christi Hawk Watch at Hazel Bazemore:

Raptor enthusiasts and birders have been watching hawks in migration at Corpus Christi and western Nueces County (including Hazel Bazemore County Park) since the mid-1970's. 

The watches were originally conducted as individually-manned watches, staffed by whomever could come, whenever they could come. Sometimes consecutive days were monitored; often it was catch-as-catch-can according to availability of warm bodies. 

In 1988, then-Texas Regional Editor John Economidy initiated the first 10-consecutive day counts at Hawk Hill (aka Mockingbird Hill, aka that spot on the north side of the 17th tee of the Wood River County Club's golf course). John's counts officially put the site on the international map, as seasonal reports were then published in the Hawk Migration Studies journal, published by the Hawk Migration Association of North America (HMANA) twice a year. 

Picket line stakeouts were also tried, to get a feel for the "corridor" of hawks during the fall migration. As more volunteers became interested and willing to stake out suspected hotspot flyover sites, observers recorded hawks during both fall and spring migrations. 

Fall is without a doubt the premiere migration period for this area, bringing a million or more hawks overhead during the fall season. Spring flights are more sporadic over the area, as weather patterns enable migrating raptors to spread out much farther on their trek back north to their nesting grounds. 

Hawk Watch International (HWI) took notice of the massive flights of hawks being reported to the international birding communities via the internet and journal articles published by HMANA. 

In the fall of 1997, the first 90-consecutive day watch using paid observers was held at the Hazel Bazemore County Park watch site by Hawk Watch International. HWI, joined by generous contributions of materials, funding and other support from local and regional sources, continues to sponsor manned watches at the site each fall to this day. 

An estimated 95% of the North American population of broadwinged Hawks (Buteo platypterus) fly over the Corpus Christi Hawk Watch site at Hazel Bazemore Park every fall in monster flights called kettles. Single kettles of 10,000 hawks are routine, and single flights of 100,000 hawks or more have been recorded. During the peak of the broadwinged hawk migration flight (generally around the last weekend in September), single day totals of 100,000 to 400,000 hawks have been recorded. The largest area flight recorded was October 4-5, 1977 when a monster cold front brought in 750,000 Broad-winged Hawks for an overnight roost.

Historically, the largest flights of hawks arrive at Corpus Christi, Texas between September 18 to September 30, although large flights regularly occur from mid-August to mid-October. Generally, the peak of the Mississippi kite (Ictinia mississippiensis) migration is in late August, followed by broadwinged hawks during the last two weeks in September and smaller numbers of Swainson's hawks (Buteo swainsoni) in early October. Flocks of Mississippi kites, anhingas (Anhinga anhinga), and wood storks (Mycteria americana) are often seen in the midst of the broadwinged hawk kettles. Weather in the northern and eastern United States is a big factor in determining the actual dates of the flights.

Other bird of prey species seen include:

Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura)
Black Vulture (Coragyps atratus)
White-tailed Kite (Elanus caeruleus)
Northern Harrier (Circus cyaneus)
Sharp-shinned Hawk (Accipiter striatus)
Cooper's Hawk (Accipiter cooperii)
Red-shouldered Hawk (Buteo lineatus)
Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis)
White-tailed Hawk (Buteo albicaudatus)
Harris's Hawk (Parabuteo unicinctus)
Osprey (Pandion haliaetus)
Crested Caracara (Polyborus plancus)
American Kestrel (Falco sparverius)
Merlin (Falco columbarius)
Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus)

Rarely seen are:

Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos)
Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)
American Swallow-tailed Kite (Elanoides forficatus)
Ferruginous Hawk (Buteo regalis)
Zone-tailed Hawk (Buteo albonotatus)
and Prairie Falcon (Falco mexicanus)

The park is also a good spot for other birds. Resident birds include Grove-billed Ani (Crotophaga sulcirostris), Greater Roadrunner (Geococcyx californianus), Green Jay (Cyanocorax yncas), and Greater Kiskadee (Pitangus sulphuratus). Large flocks of American White Pelicans (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos), Anhingas, and Wood Storks are seen each year. Other birds include Roseate Spoonbill (Ajaia ajaja), Ruby-throated Hummingbird (Archilochus colubris), Eastern Kingbird (Tyrannus tyrannus), Scissor-tailed Flycatcher (Tyrannus forficatus), Great Crested Flycatcher (Myiarchus crinitus), Brown-crested Flycatcher (Myiarchus tyrannulus), Ash-throated Flycatcher (Myiarchus cinerascens), Blue-gray Gnatcatcher (Polioptila caerulea), and Baltimore Oriole (Icterus galbula).

The hawkwatch is free and open to the public. Observers should bring binoculars, cap, sunscreen, lawn chair, and water. Restrooms are within easy walking distance. Restaurants and motels are nearby. Park policy prohibits camping, firearms, and alcoholic beverages.

(This section is in memory of the late Dr. Carter Whatley)

   
Background on Hazel Bazemore County Park:

Hazel Bazemore County Park is one of the parks operated by the Nueces County Parks and Recreation Department. The 77.6 acre park is located on the Nueces River, just off of Farm Road 624 and County Road 69. There is a self-guided nature trail and photographic blinds for the study of birds. Picnic facilities and a playground area are available along with fishing and swimming in the Nueces River. A group shelter is available for parties by reservation. Reservations must be made two weeks in advance by calling (512) 387-4231.

The park was named in 1956 for Miss Hazel Bazemore, assistant home demonstration agent, who was killed in an automobile accident in 1955. Miss Bazemore was a 1950 graduate of Oklahoma A&M College and began her services with Nueces County in August of 1950.

In September 1977, the park was made into a nature park and environmental study area.

Nueces County Park Rules and Regulations:

  • Speed limit: 15 mph in the park

  • Littering is prohibited.

  • Small cooking fires are allowed on open beach areas only.

  • Camping must be in designated areas only and by permit only.

  • Pets must be attended at all times on a leash.

  • Fireworks, firearms, pellet or b-b guns, bow and arrows are prohibited.

  • Only hook and line fishing is permitted from the piers.

  • Surfing is not allowed in restricted areas.

  • Glass containers are prohibited on the beach.

  • Driving and camping in sand dunes is prohibited. Also, any destruction of vegetation is prohibited.

 

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