Thursday, April 7, 2011

Tale of Two Thrashers...TEXAS (7 April)

After yesterday's Brown Thrasher in Boy Scout, we arrived at South Padre, a stone's throw from Mexico (for the Tip 'O Texas birding weekend) and walked right into a rather tame Long-billed Thrasher at the convention center which made fot a nice comparison with the similar Brown of yesterday. Essentially it comes down to eye color, with the distinctly orange eye color of Long-billed compared to the yellow irides of Brown Thrasher. Furthermore the bright rust upperparts of Brown are lacking in Long-billed.

Ridiculously tame warblers at South Padre to come...

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Birds in Flight...TEXAS (5 April)

Unfortunately yesterday's front passed through so quickly that today we had to console ourselves with a foray for shorebirds and long sessions shooting birds at the marvelous Smith Oaks rookery. The warblers may have scuppered our plans, although the shorebirds were in fine fettle. A venture into some boggy fields to the north of Winnie saw us with a healthy contingent of American Golden Plovers and Pectoral Sandpipers, a mass of Whimbrel and a handful of rich buffy Buff-breasted Sandpipers. The skies above were dominated by some low-flying Swainson's Hawks, and another distinctly drier field held upwards of 30 Upland Sandpipers too. Highlights in the woods today included Yellow-throated Warbler and Blue-headed Vireo, and continuing Eastern Towhees showing off by the Boy Scout Woods grandstand (High Island). The day finished with some typically excellent views of Roseate Spoonbills swooping low past the platforms overlooking the claybottom Pond rookery at Smith.

Friday, April 1, 2011

More from Anahuac...TEXAS (31 March)

Readying for another splendid month of migration madness on the Upper Texas Coast, we ventured to Anahuac NWR, and as well as several obliging King Rails and a Bittern (see below), we saw many birds typical of this freshwater refuge. Pied-billed Grebes were out in force, many of which sported the black chins of breeding dress.

The mallard lookalike, Mottled Duck, a southern specialty, was hugging the edges on several muddy pools too.

The dominant grackle in such marshy areas was the dark-eyed Boat-tailed Grackle, displaying and calling from a dead snag in the first rays of morning sunlight.

Then on the way out we found a stellar Swainson's Hawk perched just of the highway, that eventually took umbrage to its picture being taken, and drifted off towards the refuge. There's nothing like being at Anahuac just after sunrise or at sunset when the light catches the birds, and the reedbeds, so well. I am looking forward to returning again soon!

Tomorrow more to come from High Island and the coasts of the Bolivar Peninsula. I feel a shorebird bonanza coming on!