Tuesday, 17 May 2022

Texas 22 - Day 17

After 2 "full-on" BUT very enjoyable, successful and fulfilling days, it was time for a more relaxed approach this sunny Thursday morning. I was thinking about a few gaps in the Trip List and anything that might be available on the Island. There's always something...right?

A couple of Species that had eluded me were Gull-billed Tern and Snowy Plover. I decided it was time for a long stroll along East Beach...

Plenty of room here!

You may have noticed the rather large Ship in the distance...


The photo can't really portray how enormous this Ship was! Everything's...etc etc. As I approached theEastern tip of the Island I could see the Tern Colony and the fenced off area. I could also see a random Common Nighthawk roosting in full sun...

I also had a brief view of my one and only Horned Lark of the Trip. Another huge Container Ship appeared...

A lone Ring-billed Gull dropped in...

There weren't many Waders about, although there was a decent concentration of Birds on the distant sandbar which I'd check out later...

However there was one pool...


...with one Bird...

Snowy Plover

I couldn't find this Species at Bolivar Flats which was a big surprise but this more than made up for it. After all, it was an Island tick!



Cute

Obliging and fulfilling...


I checked out the Birds on the Sandbar. A lovely selection but nothing new, so I didn't add GBT. BUT I did get my record count of Black Terns (18)...



The Least Terns were quite approachable also...and numbered at least 500!


Forster's and Royal were also easily into 3 figures.

Brown Pelicans are never far away...

Incoming

Nearly got him!

***At. this juncture those of you who have reached Reddish Egret wp saturation point, may want to move on?***

I did however, get royally entertained by this character...


The active Fisherman...




The bird covered around 100 yds, constantly in motion with eyes trained on its prey. Its technique of shading the pool with its wings was VERY successful!



You KNOW when there's one about, that's for sure!


Top morning and good exercise but the SP stole the show this time...


After lunch...and a rest, we drove down to Dos Vacas Muertas for the rest of the afternoon to take advantage of the aspect. We arrived at 3.15 and in the next 3 hours I saw 34 species. I had the place to myself most of the time. Highlights being...

Purple Gallinule (Island tick)...


Really pleased to find one on the Island, and especially here...


American Redstart female in heavy shade...


A late result came in the form of a "late" Blue-Grey Gnatcatcher. Needless to say this was my only record. Again great to "catch" on the Island...



High Island tomorrow...

Local Breather!

In my haste to make my Texas tale relevant, I am aware I mustn't overlook the fact that it's migration time here also!

With that in mind I'm taking another "breather", especially as this morning was very productive...relatively.

I was out the door before 8 and up to Cliff Farm on a beautiful Spring morning here. A quick check around the Farm produced Tree Sparrow (4) Whitethroat, Linnet and Reed Bunting in the Rape. There were also quite a few Sand Martins and Swallows hawking for insects.We then strolled down to Old Hive to see the Sand Martin Colony. I was interested to see how things were developing as the Cliff had been re-designed once again by the Sea! A lone female Wheatear posed briefly in the Rape...

...as did a Meadow Pipit...for a brief blast...

A couple of Pheasants on the edge of the Cliff was...different...

It immediately became apparent that there were plenty of Birds about...plenty. In fact, my first impression was 3 figures. The Colony was already established on the "far wall". The "new Cliff" offered an extensive flat area in which to dig burrows...

Definitely 100+ birds and at least 60 burrows. A good year in store...hopefully? Great to see. Unfortunately there not  much left of the OH hedge now due to severe erosion this Winter. However there's still enough to interest the local Linnets and Reed Buntings...

A Whitethroat had also taken up territory. I'm not a song/call Guru but I know enough. A scratchy warble got my attention...a bird popped up briefly...

My second Sedge Warbler for the Village and my first "found"

It was only in view a few moments so I'm very pleased with the pic', despite the inevitable obstructions! The bird was generally elusive during he next hour but did provide decent entertainment moving along the hedge and giving a few display flights. A perky species. Far more special when it's "yours". As well as the hedge remnant there's a small triangle of "rough stuff" that the Farmer couldn't get to.Whilst scanning for the SW this popped up in the "triangle"some 40 yds away and started singing...

Corn Bunting

Amazing! Things were going well in the mini-Oasis! I gave it till 10 before returning to the car. My mate was patient...as always...


As I was down this end I drove round the corner and parked by Model Farm which is the Southern Limit of my elasticated Village boundary! This turned out to be a good decision. As i scanned I picked up 2 Yellow Wagtails on the Farm buildings.One then landed on a wood pile...


...and had a stretch...


Fortunately there's an area of turf by the derelict barn and two birds started to feed there...constantly on the move, of course...




Great morning...just the reset I needed! Now then where was I?

Patch 105
Holmpton 91

Tomorrow, I'll be trying for another one of those quality "haven't seen for a while" birds!

Monday, 16 May 2022

Texas 22 - Day 16

After yesterday's Dream Day it was time for a day off...the Island!

The Venue was Brazos Bend S.P. the Target was Limpkin, which would be my second Texas Tick of the Trip. This species has crept slowly West from Florida over recent Years and is now a Rare Breeder in the State. I aimed to be there at opening time at 8am, so I gently negotiated a 6am rise with Louise! Google Maps stated it would take 75 minutes...and it did. We paid the justifiable entrance fee of 10 Dollars and drove to the first Car Park to look at the excellent map provided.

eBird came in again, as contributors gave excellent information regarding exact locations for the Birds in this (once again) huge Park. I waited till Louise had set her stall out then started to walk to the Trail...

...passing some distant Northern Rough-winged Swallows on the way...


...and a singing Carolina Wren...


As soon as I walked through the opening stand of trees...

...I KNEW I was going to enjoy this stroll...



2 high flying Anhingha's were a great start...


I started to scan the marsh and noted a few species...and THIS...


This was the Biggest example I saw...by far! One of the advantages of being first down the trail. He soon disappeared into the murk. I continued down the trail...carefully! I won't give it the big build up this time...I saw one fairly quickly...

Limpkin (Texas 473)

This is a decent sized bird, coming in at almost 3 feet in length. A unique marsh species that will readily perch in trees...



Early Success!


The Black-bellied Whistling Duck is ALWAYS worth watching...



After around 600 yds the path started to enter the woods again, so I turned around to re-trace my steps, preferring to Bird the Marsh. Half way along I saw a movement...


It saw me...and froze...which was quite handy, as it posed for a full 5 minutes! 

First sight

A stunningly cryptic species

...with decent camouflage...


Another Quality sighting...and worth a few images I feel...


I did have a further sighting of a Limpkin but I was too slow to get a flight view when it saw me first. 2/3 Birds seen. I bumped into a lady from Vermont who was visiting Texas and had come to see the Limpkin. I couldn't get her on one BUT she WAS around when I found the Bittern. I hope she saw one. It was getting hot by 11 so I returned to have lunch with Louise. A sinister shape was watching us...

Black Vulture...complete with Chain Mail 

...and an Eastern Bluebird provided good views...



The Live Oaks (complimented by the Spanish Moss) around the car park were stunning...their spread is greater than their height...


After lunch we decided to have a drive around the rest of the Park in the hottest part of the day. Even the Squirrels were feeling the heat...


At the second Car Park I had a brief look from a viewpoint but things were understandably quiet. I did some car Birding hoping for some Woodland species. There was a decent breeze by now so Louis found a spot under the trees and I had a walk round the Lake. By 4pm we decided to return to our original spot. There were a couple of short trails I wanted to try. 

Before I made the Trip I made a shortlist (don't we all?) of Species I was keen to see. Having tried for this next Bird at a few Parks I was beginning to think I'd "had my chips". When I was planning today's visit I was pleased to see it had been recorded here! I'll never forget my first experience with this species North of Beaumont in the "Big Thicket". One landed close to me briefly before disappearing. I was keen to get another view and hopefully a pic of this fairly common but surprisingly elusive bird.

Good Advice!

The Park was quiet and I was the only person on the Trail. During the first hour I saw very little Avian activity BUT I did see THREE Armadillos!!!


Guessing it was a Family group. Difficult to get "on" as they were moving fast in heavy shade...


Chuffed to see some "live" ones! It was now gone 4. We'd decided to stay till 7pm so I continued the loop which now took me down by another "flooded forest"...


I decided to hang around a while as I heard some distant tapping? Now then, tapping strength and frequency is a difficult thing to judge IMHO, even more so in a Foreign Country when trying to judge species you're not familiar with. Anyway...it WAS a Woodpecker! Of course...I couldn't see it. In an attempt to give a more realistic account of the next hour or so, I'm going to post a series of images to hopefully give a flavour of this special occasion for yours truly.

More tapping...a Woodpecker...Red-bellied...


The canopy area was very dark with made for a harsh contrast with the strong sunshine above. More tapping...more Red-bellied action. Then more tapping from a different tree...and a flash of red and a promising bulk?


The bird flew up into a dead stump in full view. I'd found one...but it was only there a second...


GUTTED!!!

I'd found one, after searching most of the day. I'd seen it in full view for a split second...BUT I was too slow. Mixed emotions to be honest...BUT I wanted more. I have to admit though I thought my chance had gone given the terrain and scale. I waited...and waited. It was now gone 5.30pm and there was no further drumming. The area I was stood was my only open view so it would have to come back...hopefully. The earlier photo gives you a good idea of my view through the trees to the Lake. Then it came...an unforgettable moment etched in my ageing brain forever. A Pileated Woodpecker flew across the Lake fringes from Left to Right at c50 yards. Awesome...as they say over here! It was huge and looked ALL of its 30 inch wingspan!!

Even better (maybe)...it landed in a nearby tree. Unfortunately, on the far side. Things were tense now! I have to admit to forgetting the "don't go in the long grass" mantra as I tried to get a better view. I couldn't go far to be honest in the dense understorey. Then up he popped...

A male with red moustache stripe and white on wing

The King of Woodpeckers!!!

The next 10 minutes seem to fly by. Plenty of fingers and thumbs moments but fortunately I didn't drop the camera in the Swamp!

A Silhouette...


A blur...


A glimpse...


I lost it! I waited. Tension lol! He was BACK...


...with a Bang!


DEFINITELY a highlight of the trip. Yes, I know...another! It's true though...what a Bird!!! This time it was...gone as it flew off a considerable distance. I'd had more than my fill. Brilliant!

I still had an hour so I went for a stroll to the viewing platform...


There are NO viewing platforms like Texas viewing platforms!


passing yet another enormous "rookery" filled with Egrets, Herons and Spoonbills....


I told you it was good here. On the other side of the ath was a carpet of water lilies with a few Common Gallinules present. Wait...that's not a Common...


Purple is reported as a scarce bird. I saw 11 here!!!

A couple more

It was time to head back to the car and make our way back to Galveston...via the Roadhouse of course. A superb day at a superb Texas S.P. One of the Best. It was great to get a Tick but THIS was the Star Bird today for me...


55 species seen...12 Trip Ticks