Thursday, May 5, 2016

Exploring New Migration Hot Spots Part 1


            Mary and her husband live in the Corpus Christi area, so she’s no stranger to Valley birds, but when her husband suggested she come with him to a conference he was speaking at on South Padre Island, she readily agreed and looked me up to go birding!  The timing couldn’t have been better, as a mild cold front came in the day before, and the Convention Centre (CC) was dripping with migrants!  (We would hear throughout the day that the whole Valley was dripping with migrants!) 

But I’m getting ahead of myself:  we first went to the bayside flats north of the CC, and unlike Saturday, the tide was right up to the entrance kiosk, so we didn’t have much in the way of shorebirds and larids except for a couple of Ruddy Turnstones, a Sanderling, a Reddish Egret, and a couple of Royal Terns making more Royal Terns (although a late Red-breasted Merganser was nice)…  So we swung over to the CC, and had barely stepped out of the car and onto the sidewalk when we were greeted by several warblers right overhead, the memorable ones being Blackpoll and Blackburnian!  Mary got on a Chestnut-sided that I missed, but I didn’t miss the male Bay-breasted!  Ran into Scarlet Colley at the water feature, and as we talked, some Cedar Waxwings started calling from the tree tops!  Her “Orange Trees” were loaded with mostly Baltimore Orioles and a few Orchards; it was a great opportunity to study the different plumages!  Eastern Wood Pewees were out the yin yang, but nothing was out in the back area this time as the tide was so high.  From the “tucked-away bench” we saw several variations of Indigo Buntings coming in, and Gray-cheeked and Swainson’s Thrushes gave good comparisons.  Even the beginning of the boardwalk was great, as a Black-billed Cuckoo sat briefly and then flew to a tree further out on the boardwalk; this was a lifer for several folks there!  We also were thankfully able to refind the baby Least Bitterns, and on the way back one of the Clapper Rails was vigorously preening itself out in the open!  Coming back to the CC we had a great view of all the Yellow-headed Blackbirds sitting in the tops of the trees!

Black-billed Cuckoo

The "Orange Tree"

Before heading to Sheepshead, we made a circuit around the “circular area” (the area of smaller bushes east of the drive) and saw a few things, best of which was a cute Veery and a stunning Worm-eating Warbler!  Heading over to Sheepshead, we were thankful for the cloud cover as we could spend extended time on both sides of the road, but we first staked out the “shady side” where the ever-present Northern Waterthrush was, plus a Black-throated Green, but not much else.  The “sunny side” was actually more active, with a female Hooded Warbler, more orioles, and a Blue-winged Warbler!  Someone pointed out a snoozing Common Nighthawk, and down at the corner a couple of Philadelphia Vireos came in, along with more pewees.

Mary checks out the "shady side"

Snoozing Common Nighthawk

Female Hooded Warbler

First-year Baltimore Oriole

Young male Baltimore pondering the orange...

Eastern Wood Pewee looking cute

Looking normal...

After that we headed back to the CC, where the big show was at the water feature where everyone avian was taking a bath:  Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, Nashville and Yellow Warblers, Catbirds, and even the female Pyrrhuloxia!  A very friendly Acadian Flycatcher came by to say hello, and several American Redstarts flipped around as well.  Lizzy (Scarlet’s assistant) almost fainted when a Golden-winged Warbler showed up; thankfully Mary got to see that one!  Scarlet told us of a place where she had seen some Mourning Warblers on Atol, so we headed over there, but only got several Magnolias (which are nothing to sniff at, either…).  We returned to Sheepshead where another lady told us that the Birding Center was hopping, so with what little time we had we headed over there, where yet another Black-billed Cuckoo showed up (along with a Yellow-billed), and probably the star of the day, a male Cape May Warbler!

Saucy Magnolia Warbler

Blackburnian Warbler

Philadelphia vireo

Enjoying watching bathing birds at the water feature

Rose-breasted Grosbeak

Baltimore Oriole thinks about taking the plunge...

Very friendly Acadian Flycatcher

Looking cute...

Lizzy restocks the oranges

Another Magnolia Warbler over at Atol

Rose-breasted Grosbeaks and an Orchard Oriole raid the feeders at the Birding Center!

View from the ramp

Cape May Warbler, somewhat rare on the Texas coast

I had to drop Mary off after that, but it had been an incredible day; the only thing that kept us from breaking 100 was the lack of shorebirds!  Bird List:

  Black-bellied Whistling-Duck         
  Mottled Duck                         
  Blue-winged Teal                     
  Red-breasted Merganser               
  Neotropic Cormorant                  
  Brown Pelican                         
  Least Bittern                        
  Great Blue Heron                     
  Great Egret                          
  Little Blue Heron                    
  Reddish Egret                        
  Cattle Egret                         
  Green Heron                          
  Clapper Rail                          
  Common Gallinule                     
  American Coot                        
  Black-necked Stilt                   
  Greater Yellowlegs                   
  Ruddy Turnstone                      
  Short-billed Dowitcher               
  Laughing Gull                        
  Franklin's Gull                      
  Least Tern                           
  Caspian Tern                          
  Royal Tern                           
  Sandwich Tern                        
  Rock Pigeon                          
  Eurasian Collared-Dove               
  White-winged Dove                    
  Mourning Dove                        
  Yellow-billed Cuckoo                 
  Black-billed Cuckoo                  
  Common Nighthawk                     
  Ruby-throated Hummingbird            
  Eastern Wood-Pewee                   
  Acadian Flycatcher                   
  Least Flycatcher                      
  Great Kiskadee                       
  Loggerhead Shrike                    
  Warbling Vireo                       
  Philadelphia Vireo                   
  Red-eyed Vireo                       
  Barn Swallow                         
  Marsh Wren                           
  Gray-cheeked Thrush                  
  Swainson's Thrush                    
  Gray Catbird                         
  Northern Mockingbird                 
  European Starling                    
  Cedar Waxwing                        
  Worm-eating Warbler                  
  Northern Waterthrush                 
  Blue-winged Warbler                  
  Black-and-white Warbler              
  Tennessee Warbler                    
  Nashville Warbler                     
  Common Yellowthroat                  
  Hooded Warbler                       
  American Redstart                    
  Cape May Warbler                     
  Northern Parula                      
  Magnolia Warbler                     
  Bay-breasted Warbler                 
  Blackburnian Warbler                 
  Yellow Warbler                       
  Blackpoll Warbler                    
  Black-throated Green Warbler         
  Olive Sparrow                        
  Chipping Sparrow                      
  Clay-colored Sparrow                 
  Lark Sparrow                         
  Lincoln's Sparrow                    
  Summer Tanager                       
  Rose-breasted Grosbeak               
  Indigo Bunting                       
  Painted Bunting                      
  Red-winged Blackbird                 
  Eastern Meadowlark                   
  Yellow-headed Blackbird              
  Great-tailed Grackle                 
  Bronzed Cowbird                      
  Brown-headed Cowbird                 
  Orchard Oriole                       
  Baltimore Oriole                     
  House Sparrow                        

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