Tuesday, May 7, 2019

The Four Musketeers


Deb, a new Valley resident and Birder Patrol member (and who was responsible for the post title J) had some old school chums coming in for their semi-annual get-together, so since their desire was to see pretty migrants (and get some help with shorebird ID as time allowed), she hired me to take them on a romp to the Island!  Her three friends included Mary, Carol, and Bonnie, and I had actually taken Deb, Carol, and Mary out back in April of 2016 (click here to read about that trip) when we had crippling looks at “grasspipers” at the Weaver Road Sod Farms, so that place wasn’t on the menu this time!  Deb had an SUV large enough to hold us all, so we went straight to South Padre, and since they had gotten their Aplomado Falcon on their previous trip we bypassed the observation spot on SR 100, but we did manage to log Caracara and Chihuahuan Raven on the way. 

They had actually visited the Convention Centre a couple of days previously, and it didn’t take long for them to declare that today (with a continuing north wind) was much better migrant wise!  Already the parking lot was filling up so we found a spot near the northeast corner of the “circular area”, and right away were greeted with an in-your-face Chestnut-sided Warbler!  As we made our way to the main gardens we added lots of pewees and both flavors of orioles.  A few minutes at the water feature bagged my FOS Philadelphia Vireo, plus a Wilson’s Warbler and another stunning Canada!  In the “Magic Middle Tree” in the back yard, the Townsend’s Warbler was still there, delighting many folks (along with the Black-throated Green), but in addition a lovely male Bay-breasted Warbler was causing a lot of excitement!  Additional migrants back there included Least Flycatcher, Red-eyed, Blue-headed, and Warbling Vireos, Eastern Kingbird, and tons of Indigo Buntings.

Chestnut-sided Warbler (above and below)

"The Girls!"

Shy Philadelphia Vireo

Canada Warbler

Blue-headed Vireo (butt shot below)

Least Flycatcher

"Composite" shots of the Bay-breasted Warbler

From there we headed to the boardwalk, where the lone tree out there that was so lively the day before had two Prairie Warblers!  As we scoured the mangroves we managed to add a Black-and-white Warbler, a lingering Ruby-crowned Kinglet, a glimpse of a Sora running through the muck, and some got to see a Magnolia Warbler.  Quite a few Chimney Swifts were shooting over, and the East Pond was quite productive with a surprise Fulvous Whistling Duck (I rarely see them out there), lots of Stilt Sandpipers, a single Pectoral Sandpiper, a Lesser Yellowlegs, and a nesting Black-necked Stilt!  Back at the car we were getting ready to pull out when one of the gals spotted this odd-looking thing that looked blue and red through the front windshield; turned out to be a changing Summer Tanager (that was actually green and red J)!

Prairie Warbler, rare on the Texas coast

Scouring the mangroves for migrants

For some reason we weren’t planning on going to the Flats (else I would have directed we go there first), but for whatever reason we changed our minds and headed out, enjoying the usual suspects (including the sacked out Black Skimmers and terns offering fish to their mates), but special mention goes to all the pretty Franklin’s Gulls and breeding plumaged shorebirds.  

Royal Terns

Sandwich Tern with fish

Several shots of Franklin's Gulls

Sacked-out Black Skimmers


Ruddy Turnstone

After that we headed to the Birding and Nature Center; we only birded the garden due to time, but started off with a bang with a young male Bullock’s Oriole at their orange feeder even before we got in the building!  The Spring Chirp (put on by Valley Nature Center) was going on, so we ran into Simon, Dan, and Mary, who were all guiding!  The girls dragged their cooler to the deck out back where we all enjoyed a relaxed lunch, then poked around the garden where we kicked up a male Painted Bunting and a Blackpoll Warbler (someone spotted a young Yellow-crowned Night Heron while we were eating).  Once again, just as we were pulling out to leave, one of the gals said, “What’s that walking across the lot?!”  I jumped out to look, and of all things, a Least Bittern was making his way to the shade of another parked car (must have learned that trick from the grackles)!

Young male Bullock's Oriole, rather unusual on the coast

The girls enjoying lunch!

Least Bittern seeking shade under a car!

Sheepshead was next, where the excitement never stopped as we found a male MacGillivray’s Warbler at the northeast drip!  Vigils at both the “dark side” and “sunny side” areas added Hooded and Yellow Warblers to the list, plus a bathing Yellow-breasted Chat, a Lincoln’s Sparrow, and three Rose-breasted Grosbeaks!  After that we had just enough time to blast down to the Highway 48 Boat Ramp to try for oystercatchers and other shorebirds; none of the latter, but we were able to pick out several Wilson’s Plovers and add a couple of Forster’s Terns to the list!  

Yellow-breasted Chat (above and below)

Black-and-white Warbler (above and below)

With a grand total of 99 species, the question is always, “Okay, what did we miss that woulda put us over the top??”  J  Bird list:

Black-bellied Whistling-Duck
Fulvous Whistling-Duck
Muscovy Duck (Domestic type)
Mottled Duck
Pied-billed Grebe
Rock Pigeon
Eurasian Collared-Dove
White-winged Dove
Mourning Dove
Chimney Swift
Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Common Gallinule
American Coot
Black-necked Stilt
Black-bellied Plover
Wilson's Plover
Ruddy Turnstone
Stilt Sandpiper
Least Sandpiper
Pectoral Sandpiper
Spotted Sandpiper
Greater Yellowlegs
Lesser Yellowlegs
Laughing Gull
Franklin's Gull
Ring-billed Gull
Least Tern
Forster's Tern
Royal Tern
Sandwich Tern
Black Skimmer
Neotropic Cormorant
Brown Pelican
Least Bittern
Great Blue Heron
Great Egret
Snowy Egret
Little Blue Heron
Tricolored Heron
Reddish Egret
Green Heron
Yellow-crowned Night-Heron
Roseate Spoonbill
Harris's Hawk
Crested Caracara
Eastern Wood-Pewee
Least Flycatcher
Great Kiskadee
Tropical Kingbird
Western Kingbird
Eastern Kingbird
Scissor-tailed Flycatcher
Loggerhead Shrike
Blue-headed Vireo
Philadelphia Vireo
Warbling Vireo
Red-eyed Vireo
Chihuahuan Raven
Purple Martin
Barn Swallow
Marsh Wren
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Gray Catbird
Northern Mockingbird
Lincoln's Sparrow
Yellow-breasted Chat
Orchard Oriole
Bullock's Oriole
Baltimore Oriole
Red-winged Blackbird
Great-tailed Grackle
Northern Waterthrush
Black-and-white Warbler
Tennessee Warbler
Nashville Warbler
MacGillivray's Warbler
Common Yellowthroat
Hooded Warbler
Northern Parula
Magnolia Warbler
Bay-breasted Warbler
Yellow Warbler
Chestnut-sided Warbler
Blackpoll Warbler
Prairie Warbler
Townsend's Warbler
Black-throated Green Warbler
Canada Warbler
Wilson's Warbler
Summer Tanager
Rose-breasted Grosbeak
Indigo Bunting
Painted Bunting
House Sparrow

1 comment:

  1. Wow! A really neat trip and report. The flattened skimmers are interesting.