|  TPWD News Releases Dated 2012-12-20                                    |
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[ Note: This item is more than six years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ Media Contact: TPWD News, news@tpwd.texas.gov, 512-389-8030 ]
[ Additional Contacts: Amber Conrad, McKinney Falls State Park interpretative specialist, amber.conrad@tpwd.texas.gov (512) 415-8793 ]
Dec. 20, 2012
Rare tropical bird spotted in Austin
The fork-tailed flycatcher, native to Central and South America, was spotted by birder Shelia Hargis Saturday near McKinney Falls State Park during Travis County Audubon's annual Christmas Bird Count.
Texas Parks and Wildlife biologist Mark Klym attributes the bird sighting so far North as a product of a confused migration path.
"The fork-tailed flycatcher usually comes from Argentina to Mexico at this time of year," Klym said. "Every once and a while one of them seems to overfly that northbound migration and end up in Texas."
Females are usually around 12 inches and males are larger at around 15 inches long. Though the bird is around a foot long it only weighs about an ounce making it ideal for gliding through thousands of miles of airspace.
On Monday it was reported there were two fork-tailed flycatchers in the area, yet upon inspection of the image it was determined to be the flycatcher sitting with one of its relatives, the scissor-tailed flycatcher.
"We have so many people coming from all over Texas and the U.S. to see this bird," said park ranger Amber Conrad. "This bird is relatively small, it's like a little cotton ball with some black string hanging off of it for its head and its tail."
Interest in the bird has brought visitors out in droves to the park with high-powered binoculars and professional video and photography equipment to capture the rare traveler. Groups of photographers seem to resemble the paparazzi as they work to get the perfect shot of the rare birds.
"A lot of people think it's funny, and I do to sometimes, that people have this kind of obsession about seeing birds," said Austin birder Chris Layten. "For me, it's getting the chance to be out and to have a more intimate connection with the natural world."
Layten and other birders flocked to the park and the surrounding area upon hearing of the flycatcher sighting. State birders have only documented 25 sightings of the fork-tailed flycatcher in Texas over the past 150 years, making this week's discovery sensational to bird enthusiasts across the nation.
McKinney Falls will have a special program at the Smith Visitor Center at 10 a.m. Dec. 22 showcasing the bird with wildlife viewing from the center's scenic overlook. This program is free and open to the public after park admission.
For more information and to get involved in birding visit http://tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/parks/things-to-do/birding-in-state-parks
On the Net:
YouTube video: http://youtu.be/w1AlFIAqqWQ

[ Note: This item is more than six years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ Media Contact: TPWD News, news@tpwd.texas.gov, 512-389-8030 ] [SL]
Dec. 20, 2012
TPWD Seeks Input on Possible Coastal Fisheries Regulation Changes
AUSTIN -- The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) has scheduled three public scoping meetings in January to gather input about possible regulation changes for 2013-14. The scoping items include incorporation of a rule regarding recreational possession limit, clarification of fish harassment rules, bonus red drum tag requirement changes and new possession rules in state waters for aquatic resources in excess of federal limits.
All meetings will begin at 7 p.m. and are set for:
--Jan. 7 -- Dickinson TPWD Regional Office, 1502 FM 517 East;
--Jan. 9 -- Corpus Christi on the TAMU CC campus, NRC #1003, 6300 Ocean Dr.;
--Jan. 10 -- San Antonio at Bass Pro Shops, 17907 W. IH 10.
During the regulation restructuring process where fishing and hunting regulations were separated into their own chapters, language regarding the definition of recreational possession limit was not carried forward into the Statewide Recreational and Commercial Fishing Proclamations chapter. Though the definition currently is enforceable from the Statewide Hunting Proclamation, this proposal will incorporate the definition into the Statewide Recreational and Commercial Fishing Proclamation making it clearer. The language to be incorporated reads:
The possession limit shall not apply after the wildlife resource has reached the possessor's permanent residence and is finally processed.
TPWD is also looking to clarify language in the regulations regarding fish harassment, which currently states that it is unlawful for any person to use any vessel to harass fish. In an attempt to clarify this definition to make it clearer, the department proposes the following language:
It is unlawful to use any vessel to harry, herd, or drive fish including but not limited to operating any vessel in a repeated circular course, for the purpose of or resulting in the artificial concentration of fish for the purpose of taking or attempting to take fish.
The department is also considering removing the prohibition regarding simultaneous possession of the red drum tag and bonus red drum tag. Currently anglers must obtain these two tags at separate times. In an effort to make it easier for those anglers who wish to harvest more than one oversized red drum (>28 inches), the department proposes eliminating this prohibition. As TPWD currently only issues about 7,000 bonus red drum tags annually, and oversized red drum makes up only 3 percent of the total harvest, the department expects no negative impact to the population. Anglers would still only be issued one bonus red drum tag annually.
TPWD is also scoping a change making it a state violation for possession in state waters of aquatic resources taken in violation of federal regulations in the Exclusive Economic Zone. Differences currently exist between state and federal regulations. TPWD has maintained an annual agreement with the Office of Law Enforcement (OLE) of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration through which TPWD agrees to enforce federal regulations in state waters. The ability to enforce federal regulations will help prevent depletion and waste of aquatic resources.
Public input on these scoping items can also be submitted electronically at http://tpwd.texas.gov/business/feedback/public_comment/scoping/ by email to Jeremy Leitz at jeremy.leitz@tpwd.texas.gov, or in writing to Jeremy Leitz, 4200 Smith School Road, Austin, TX 78744.