|  TPWD News Releases Dated 2013-06-20                                    |
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[ Note: This item is more than four 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: Rob McCorkle, TPWD, (830) 866-3533 or robert.mccorkle@tpwd.texas.gov; Shelly Plante, TPWD, (512) 389-4500, or shelly.plante@tpwd.texas.gov ]
June 20, 2013
Statewide Texas Birding Competition Deemed Great Success
Birding Classic Donates $17,000 to Birding, Habitat Conservation, Nature Tourism Projects
AUSTIN - Swarovski Optik teams bested the competition in three different categories of the first statewide version of the Great Texas Birding Classic,and two of those wins enabled its teams to select which habitat conservation projects receive $10,000 of the $17,000 awarded from this year's event.
The Swarovski Optik Highway Hawks, winner of the Adult Weeklong Tournament, selected Corpus Christi's Hazel Bazemore Park as the recipient of a $5,000 conservation grant. The funds will be used to create a permanent water feature to serve as a drinking and bathing area for birds, as well as construct a photography blind near that water feature and install permanent signage at four existing kiosks.
Winning the Adult Upper Texas Coast Big Day Tournament, the Swarovski Optik/ Houston Audubon Hawks directed its $5,000 conservation grant to match $5,000 from the Houston Audubon Society to help restore the storm-battered Horseshoe Marsh Sanctuary on the western end of the Bolivar Peninsula in Galveston County. Debris and salt cedar that has grown up in the past four years will be removed, bridges replaced and the coastal prairie replanted with native vegetation. Additionally, signage will be installed along the interpretive trail.
In addition, Texas Parks and Wildlife will receive a $5,000 nature tourism grant for reprinting the Great Texas Coastal Birding Trail maps for the first time in more than a decade. The maps, which are closely tied to the Birding Classic, guide visitors throughout the state to see Texas' best birdwatching and wildlife viewing sites first-hand.
The 17th annual Great Texas Birding Classic, held from April 15 to May 15, attracted more than 300 participants from El Paso and the Panhandle to the Rio Grande Valley and the Pineywoods of East Texas, who recorded 398 avian species during a host of regional and statewide daylong and weeklong tournaments. Fifty-six teams, the most in 10 years, were compelled to enter by the new, more flexible format that allowed teams to choose from among 42 categories and select their competition day or days based on work schedules, weather and other variables. Team fees also were lowered, making the event more affordable for all.
In an unlikely scenario, Swarovski Optik's Highway Hawks identified 330 species in the Adult, Weeklong Tournament, just squeaking by the NRG EcoPartners team by one species while covering more than 4,000 miles, seeing a variety of birds along much different routes.
"There were so many variables that differentiated each of their runs, yet they ended up with lists one species apart," says Shelly Plante, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department's nature tourism manager who coordinated the tournament. "That is extraordinary and speaks volumes about the wonderful diversity of birds we have in Texas."
A third team from the optic company - the Swarovski Optik Western Hawks- also won regional Big Day Tournament in the Far West Texas regional category.
In the new All-Ages State Park Tournament, where teams competed on a given day in a Texas state park, the Weslaco Mid-Valley Orioles identified 123 species at the Rio Grande Valley's Estero Llano Grande State Park, a World Birding Center site. The Orioles bested the second-place Obstinate Oystercatchers, who spotted 95 species at Goose Island State Park near Rockport.
The Orioles will donate its $1,000 conservation grant award for Kiskadee Wetlands restoration at Estero Llano Grande State Park in Weslaco.
The Big Sit! competition proved the most popular tournament, boasting 20 of the 56 squads competing this year. Plante says participants liked the laid-back atmosphere of the tournament and ease of having as few as one person or "a whole community of 20 or more team members" working in shifts throughout the day from a specified location.
Winners of the Central Texas Coast Big Sit! Tournament, the Port Aransas Spoonbills, won the Lone Star Bird Award and chose Utopia Park along the Sabinal River in Utopia to receive its $1,000 grant. The funds will be used to enhance the park by improving and adding trails, bird feeding areas and interpretive signage.
Families were drawn to the new Sunrise to Noon Tournament, where teams of three to five birders, many of them parents and their children, recorded birds seen from sunup to noon. The Sandhill Craniacs took top honors in the all-ages category with 121 species.
In the extremely competitive youth Roughwings Regional Tournament for birders 13 years old and younger, nine chaperoned teams squared off in four regions, with top teams tallying impressive totals that rivaled the Adult tournament totals in some areas. The Upper Coast Roughwings winning team, the TOS Seaside Sparrows, identified 126 birds on their tournament day, while the Central Coast TOS Krazy Kites saw an astounding 135 species during their eight-hour run. Both of these winning youth teams were sponsored by Texas Ornithological Society.
To view all event results, visit: http://tpwd.texas.gov/events/great-texas-birding-classic/winnersreports/2013-final-results
Download photos of some of the Great Texas Birding Classic winning teams by visiting: http://tpwd.texas.gov/newsmedia/news_images/?g=great_texas_birding_classic_2013

[ Note: This item is more than four 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: Christopher Churchill, (817) 319-7290, cchurchi@usgs.gov or Brian Van Zee, (254) 867-7974, brian.vanzee@tpwd.state.tx.us or Mike Cox, (512) 389-8046, mike.cox@tpwd.state.tx.us ]
June 20, 2013
Zebra Mussels Documented in Lewisville Lake
Boaters urged to clean, drain and dry
AUSTIN - Less than a year following the discovery that zebra mussels had established a population in Lake Ray Roberts, the destructive invasive species has been confirmed in Lewisville Lake by the United States Geological Survey (USGS). This is the third lake in Texas, and the second within the Trinity River basin, where zebra mussels have been discovered.
Christopher Churchill, a biologist with the USGS who has been monitoring for zebra mussels in North Texas rivers and reservoirs, discovered the live juvenile on a settlement sampler near the dam.
Churchill indicated that this latest infestation is likely the result of contaminated boats being transported to Lewisville Lake, but it could be the result of downstream transport of zebra mussels from Lake Ray Roberts via Elm Fork of the Trinity River. Also, this latest infestation appears to be relatively new as no additional specimens have been documented.
The USGS, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, University of Texas-Arlington and others continue to closely monitor for the spread of zebra mussels in Texas.
Zebra mussels can have economic and recreational impacts in Texas reservoirs. They can clog public-water intake pipes, harm boats and motors left in infested waters by covering boat hulls and clogging water-cooling systems, annoy boat-dock owners by completely covering anything left under water and can make water recreation hazardous because of their razor-sharp edges.
With Lewisville Lake being such a popular boating destination there is a heightened risk of zebra mussels being transported to non-infested lakes by boaters. However, the spread can be slowed by making sure boats that operate in zebra mussel-infested waters are not used in any other body of water until they have been cleaned, drained and dried. In addition, TPWD adopted rules regarding the transfer of zebra mussel larvae in water from lakes Texoma, Lavon, Ray Roberts and Lewisville. To comply with these rules, boaters and anglers need to drain all water from their boats (including live wells) before leaving those lakes.
From the environmental perspective, zebra mussels are filter feeders, which mean they compete with baitfish such as shad for available forage. Any impact on baitfish in turn can affect their predators -- game fish such as bass, striped bass and catfish. Zebra mussels are also very harmful to native mussel populations because they will colonize on their shells and essentially suffocate them.
TPWD Executive Director Carter Smith emphasized that the discovery underscores the importance of boaters helping to prevent the spread of zebra mussels, which can be unknowingly spread when boats and trailers are moved from lake to lake.
TPWD and a coalition of partners have been reaching out to boaters in Texas with an advertising campaign to educate them not to transport the tiny mussels or their microscopic larvae, which are invisible to the naked eye and can stay alive inside livewells, bait buckets and other parts of the boat for up to a week. These partners include: North Texas Municipal Water District, Tarrant Regional Water District, Trinity River Authority, City of Dallas Water Utilities Department, Upper Trinity Regional Water District, Sabine River Authority, Canadian River Municipal Water Authority, San Jacinto River Authority, Brazos River Authority, City of Grapevine, City of Houston, City of Waco and Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.
"With this somber news, I hope Texas boaters will always remember to "Clean, Drain, Dry" their boats, trailers and gear because all it takes is one instance of not properly cleaning to introduce this highly invasive and unwelcome species to a water body in Texas; and once they are established there is no known way to get rid of them," Smith said.
Originally from the Balkans, Poland and the former Soviet Union, zebra mussels found their way to the Americas in the 1980s via ballast water of a ship. The small invaders were first found in 1988 in Lake St. Clair, Mich., and are currently known to have infested 29 states and more than 600 lakes or reservoirs in the United States.
Anyone wishing to receive a supply of informational brochures, wallet cards or posters about zebra mussels to distribute to boaters around lakes Lewisville, Ray Roberts or Texoma, please contact marketing@tpwd.texas.gov. For more information regarding zebra mussels visit www.texasinvasives.org.