Today the winds were out of the north, which meant the migrant action at South Padre could be good, so off we went! Found out that Aplomado Falcon would be a life bird for Jean, so we swung by the Aplomado Viewing Area on SR 100, got to see a distant head on the platform J, and bagged the Chihuahuan Raven while we were at it! Went straight to The Flats from there, where the tide was way out, so we got to drive right up to the usual suspects, plus a nice group of Franklin’s Gulls and the white morph Reddish Egret putting on a show!
Sandwich Terns (above and below)
Showing white band in wingtip
White morph Reddish Egret (above and below)
From there we went to the Convention Centre which was pretty active: as usual, there were lots of pewees around, but also a couple of Least Flycatchers. Both Red-eyed and Warbling Vireos made a showing, and a Philadelphia was reported, but as is often the case, we missed that one (can’t be everywhere at the same time)… There were tons of both Baltimore and Orchard Orioles, but this one tree in the middle of the “back yard” seemed to be very popular with the warblers, and Jean (from southern California, remember) got my adrenalin going when he very casually said, “Oh, there’s a Townsend’s Warbler!” (!!!) Holy smokes – a rare bird out here any time but a state bird for me!! J A couple of nearby Black-throated Greens gave good comparisons, especially this one funky individual with a darker cap and auriculars than normal (and indeed, many were mistaking it for the Townsend’s – made me wonder if we had a hybrid on our hands)! A Cedar Waxwing gave its ringing call and flew overhead, and a Rose-breasted Grosbeak caused a lot of oohs and ahhs! A Chestnut-sided Warbler was back at the water feature, and somewhere in here a Yellow-breasted Chat showed up. One guy rather casually mentioned that a female Cerulean Warbler was back in the “back yard”, so we went tearing back only to have my friends in the "Thursday Group" (Tamie, Lizee, and Father Tom) tell us that she was “just there” and had left! L
Jean and the local "Thursday Group"
Warbling Vireo (above and below)
Great Crested Flycatcher
The ever-present Black-bellied Whistling Duck
Townsend's Warbler, a rare visitor from the west (above and below)!
Several shots of the funky Black-throated Green Warbler that was confusing a lot of folks; even though the cap and auriculars look rather dark on this bird, points in favor of BTG include the white underparts, the splash of yellow across the vent, and the bright green back.
Here's a typical male Black-throated Green Warbler (above and below)
Eastern Wood Pewee
With that we decided to hit the boardwalk where this one lonely tree always seems to have stuff, and this time it didn’t disappoint with a Magnolia, Blackpoll, and Nashville Warbler to show! The only migrant in the mangroves was a friendly Black-and-white Warbler, but tons of Barn Swallows were flying around, and we also heard the rapid-fire chatter of a Bank Swallow going over. On the way back to the car in the “circular area” Jean said, “What’re these two little guys?” He had found a couple of very cooperative Canada Warblers!
Yet another Eastern Wood Pewee
Blackpoll Warbler (above and below)
Canada Warbler (above and below)
From there we went straight to Sheepshead, which was pretty quiet comparatively: the faithful Northern Waterthrush was at his drip on the “dark side”, a pretty male Northern Parula fed over our heads, and another couple pointed out a brilliant male Indigo Bunting that was sitting on the wire fence and helping himself to the grass seed within reach! A male Painted Bunting was around the corner, and in the northeast corner (with the pines that really aren’t pines, I’m told) a Clay-colored and Chipping Sparrow sat together (and this time of year, there’s no confusing the two)!
Northern Parula (above and below)
The Birding Center was next, where on the ramp down to the Bird Garden a Blue-winged Warbler gave a very brief view, while an Orange-crowned gave a more prolonged one. A Swainson’s Thrush popped up near the drip, and a Blue-headed Vireo showed off higher in a tree. On the main boardwalk I kept hearing this loud “Wheep!” that seemed to be moving, and sure enough, an Oystercatcher came roaring by at eye level! We heard the Mangrove Warbler singing, but as per usual he didn’t wanna come out. Besides the other usual suspects we had a very friendly Tricolored Heron on the railing, both night herons (the Black-crowned was being chased by a grackle J), and a Sora that went flying across the water. At the “East Pond”, the spoonbills that I had just glimpsed at while on the Convention Centre boardwalk (thinking they’d still be there later) had disappeared, but we at least logged the Stilt and Spotted Sandpipers, plus a Greater Yellowlegs.
Primping Tricolored Heron
The last stop of the day was the Laguna Vista Nature Trail, a good place to add “Valley specialties” if most of your day was spent on the Island! There were gobs of buntings and orioles coming into the drip and bathing at the first blind, plus another chat, a Tennessee Warbler, a very fluffy Rose-breasted Grosbeak who acted like he wasn’t sure if he wanted to take the plunge J, the Long-billed Thrasher, the Olive Sparrow, a “too-fast-for-the-camera” Buff-bellied Hummingbird, and other “Valley” stuff that sang from the scrub. The lingering male American Goldfinch was at the middle blind; what a stunner (and usually long gone by now)!
Male (and female below) Indigo Bunting
Female Orchard Orioles bathing (male below)
A Rose-breasted Grosbeak ponders whether to take the plunge...
He fluffs his feathers in anticipation!
Male American Goldfinch
Goes to show what even moderate fallout weather conditions will do (plus a little birding off-island), as we had an incredible 111 species (plus 1 subspecies) for the day! Bird List:
Black-bellied Whistling-DuckMuscovy Duck (Domestic type)
Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon)
Great Blue Heron
Little Blue Heron
Great Crested Flycatcher
Black-throated Green Warbler