Birds of the Texas Gulf
Great Blue Heron in Breeding Plumage
American White Pelicans in breeding plumage
Great Blue Heron (White Morph) with chicks
Reddish Egret White Morph
Royal and Sandwich Terns
Whooping Crane (Adolescent)
Next was the Gulf Coast of Texas beginning with Laguna Atascosa NWR on the 10th of April. Here we tallied 8 new year birds including 3 lifers in a Reddish Egret, White Faced Ibis and best of all the Aplomado Falcon. We worked hard with a group to confirm the falcon's it's ID from a distance only to later find it on a wire right next to the road.
The next day we went to the Convention Center at South Padre Island and checked out the grounds around it as well as the board walk. Among other 2012 birds, there I added 3 new Terns in the Royal, Least and a lifer in the Sandwich Tern... the one who looks as if he dipped the tip of his beak in mustard. The best bird of the day, though, was the Black Skimmer. Been looking forward to seeing that one for years.
The following day I ventured to Sabal Palms Sanctuary, Boca Chica on the coast, and the "ever-romantic" Brownsville Landfill. Nothing I've seen in the US looked more like a tropical jungle than Sabal Palms. There we finally added the Black-Crowned Night Heron as well as good looks at a Red-Eyed Vireo. At Boca Chica we ticked the Ruddy Turnstone, and at the landfill the Thayer's Gull. On 4-14 we headed towards Corpus Christy next with 250 year birds and 63 lifers for 2012.
Arriving at Goose Island (pic's below) we immediately found a lifer in the American Oystercatcher. Others were White-tailed Hawk, Semi-palmated Plover, Brown Thrasher, Field Sparrow, and Rose-Breasted Grosbeak.
Nearby the next day at Paradise Pond in Port Aransas we viewed our first new Warbler in a Yellow-Throated as well as a beautiful Indigo Bunting and our first Acadian Flycatcher.
On a boat trip aboard "the Skimmer" to Aransas NWR Captain Tommy showed us several great birds including the spectacular Painted Bunting, a Seaside Sparrow, endangered Whooping Cranes and spectacular views of a Heron/Egret rookery where we got good looks at white morphs of both the Great Blue Heron and Reddish Egret. (4-19, 268/74)
Snowy Egrets in breeding plumage
"My neck hurts!"
Reddish Egret (it's dancing!)
Black & White Warbler
Rare Red-Cockaded Woodpecker
On the 30th we ventured to Anahuac NWR. Here we finally got positive IDs on a few nemesis birds. After conclusive identification of a Dickcissel I’m pretty sure I have seen at least one in the past and believed it was a Meadowlark. The Clapper Rail was good to finally see and add to my life list after hearing it several times recently. And the Boat-Tailed Grackle was good to confirm after getting close enough to spot the dark eye. The Boat-Tailed exhibits this trait where it’s range overlaps the Great-Tailed Grackle in this part of the Gulf Coast of Texas and part of Louisiana. We left Texas on 4/31/12 with the Big East year list standing at 304 with 101 lifers added for 2012.
Next stop was north of Houston at Woodland Lakes RV park in Conroe, TX. On the way there my precious bride gave me a new camera and lens for my birthday! It’s a Nikon 5100 with a Sigma 150-500MM zoom lens. She’s the greatest and I’m having a blast playing with it. Hopefully the following pictures begin to show some marked improvement.
In north Houston I was able to spend a few hours on the 23rd of April at Jesse Jones Park with my freind Russell Cannings from British Columbia. With him I saw my first Yellow-Throated Vireo, Carolina Chickadee, Prothonotary Warbler, Red-Bellied Woodpecker, and Northern Parula. Russ had to head to the airport to go home but suggested I try W.G. Jones St. Forest further north. There in the Pines I spotted my first Red-Headed Woodpecker, Red-Cockaded Woodpecker, and Brown-Headed Nuthatch.
Next was the Bolivar Peninsula across from Galveston, TX for a week starting the 24th of April. Our trip was planned around this week near one of the most famous migrant traps in the country. While we were not blessed with a strong north wind followed by a “Fall out” of birds it did not disappoint with the variety of birds witnessed during the week. We stayed at Crystal Canal RV Resort and quickly identified our first Black Tern. It was following one of the steady stream of huge barges being pushed through the Inter Coastal Canal behind our rig. (See the “Travel” page for pic’s and more).
At High Island over multiple visits many lifers were added including Orchard Oriole, Black-Throated Green Warbler, Cerulian Warbler, Baltimore Oriole, American Redstart, Scarlet Tanager, Eastern Wood Pewee, Magnolia Warbler, Golden-Winged Warbler, Black and White Warbler, Chimney Swift, and as the 300th bird of the year… the extra special Blackburnian Warbler. Also at Smith Woods we had spectacular results at the Heron/Egret/Spoonbill rookery.
One of my favorite things on this trip has been for Deborah, Ozzie, and Sophie to hop in the car and spend most of the day driving and walking around the local birding hot spots. The 27th of April was particularly fun with the new camera roaming the Bolivar Penninsula. Below are some of the results.