Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Alamo Inn Spring Tour, Part 4


Michael Marsden had taken Sally, Mike, and another Brit named Tim out to the Island on Sunday after a strong cold front Saturday night promised to down some migrants, and they had had a marvelous time!  But the good news was that Michael had recommended they go out again today (and Keith concurred that migrants often hang around up to three days after a good front), and they were certainly game, as was I!  Tim joined us today as well, so away we went, heading straight to the Convention Centre.

I dropped them off as parking was tight, and after I found a spot, I made my way back by way of the “circle bushes” (the area within the roundabout drive that is often good on fallout days), and before I met up with the gang I had already logged Blue-headed and Red-eyed Vireo, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Indigo Bunting, Tennessee Warbler, and a female Scarlet Tanager!  When I finally found the crew in the back, they had already found a Bay-breasted and female Cerulean Warbler practically side by side (they got me on the latter but not the former), and Mike was shooting a brilliant Blackburnian Warbler practically at eye level!  Baltimore Orioles were all over, as were the Indigo Buntings, and the gang informed me that the bird show was just about as good as yesterday’s but without the crowds! J 

Blue-headed Vireo

Indigo Bunting (also below)

Red-eyed Vireo

Female Scarlet Tanager

Peek-a-boo Blackburnian Warbler

We didn’t even make it out to the Flats as we were so distracted by the migrants; an Ovenbird strutted around on the grass, and three thrushes (Veery, Swainson’s, and Gray-cheeked) all gave great comparative views!  Somewhere in there the guys found a Worm-eating Warbler while Sally and I circled around to the back, and had a brilliant male Hooded Warbler come in!  When we met up again, someone thought they had a Mockingbird, but a second look revealed it to be a Black-billed Cuckoo!  The Lazuli Bunting had been seen again, but he didn’t come out while we were there… L  A nice female Yellow-headed Blackbird gave good views, however.

Western Kingbird

Two shots of the Ovenbird

Female Yellow-headed Blackbird

Transitioning Indigo Bunting

Philadelphia Vireo

Baltimore Oriole

Tim, Sally, and Mike enjoy the show while Scarlet (in the pink and black below) comes over to schmooze.  Thanks to her and her volunteers' hard work and dedication, the tired birds have plenty of food and water waiting for them when they "crash" on the Island!

Veery (giving the "Mad Thrush" look below)

Blue-headed Vireo (above and below)

"Beakless" Hooded Warbler

Black-and-white Warbler

Gray-cheeked Thrush

From there we went on the boardwalk (Mike decided to stay at the Centre, but Tim wanted the Least Bittern J), and we enjoyed the regular birds in the east pond.  A peep came in that Tim initially ID’d as White-rumped, but I figured it was a little early for Whiterumps and it struck me more as a Baird’s, but it took off before we could get the scope on it.  Continuing to the end the female Least Bittern did come out for us, and a squadron of skimmers came in and put on a skimming show!  The other boardwalk had a Sora out in the open (which Sally really wanted to see), and the mangroves were just swarming with migrants (most of which you couldn’t see in the “stuff”)!  The best one was a Blackburnian Warbler that was working his way down the railing, snatching bugs as he went!  Baltimore Orioles were all over (along with a few Orchards), and we did manage to catch sight of a Nashville and Tennessee Warbler.  Out at the end Tim found us a female Red-breasted Merganser, which was nice.  We had some nice butterflies as well that Tim was focusing on:  the Great Southern Whites were all over, of course, but we also had the occasional White Peacock, and both Common and Tropical Buckeyes.

Female Great-tailed Grackle

Eastern Kingbird (above and below)

Least Bittern

A few shots of the normally secretive Sora

Several shots of a Blackburnian Warbler that was working his way down the boardwalk!

Sally tries to shoot a Reddish Egret (below) at the end of the pier!

While out there I got an alert that a Black-throated Blue Warbler had been seen at Sheepshead, so we ran back to gather Mike and head over (but not before enjoying a big flock of Indigo Buntings in the lawn with a pair of Blue Grosbeaks in with them)!  That target was long gone, unfortunately, but we did see some nice things, including lots of Rose-breasted Grosbeaks and a Black-throated Green Warbler.  On the “sunny side” a Yellow Warbler kept coming in to the drip, which was a big hit for the guys!  At one point I went to get sandwiches while they stayed behind, and when I came back they were all watching a Kentucky Warbler, which I missed, but we had seen the female last week, so I wasn’t too disappointed! J  The guys had also seen a Yellow-breasted Chat while I was away…

Indigo Bunting mob with a token Rose-breasted Grosbeak

Undignified-looking Summer Tanager

Female Yellow Warbler - ho-hum to many, but a big hit for the Brits!

Baltimore Oriole working on an orange

Lincoln's Sparrow

From there I realized that we really needed to hit the Birding Center if we were going to get home on time, so we headed over, where a nice male Yellow-headed Blackbird greeted us!  I ran into fellow Birder Patrollers Norma and Sue and some of the Big Sit folks, and after we checked in we saw Mary G. keeping watch along with Scarlet, and they had already gotten close to 130 species just in that one spot (including a Prairie Warbler)!  We continued on the boardwalk, where we got distant views of Black-bellied Plover and Caspian Tern, but the Mottled Ducks were close along with the Common Gallinules, and even a big Clapper Rail came out in the open!  Both Eastern and Western Kingbirds were fun to see side by side, and in the mangroves we found several Northern Waterthrushes; Tim spotted a Yellow-billed Cuckoo which we later got great looks at.  Swinging around the cleared area we had another Sora, plus several Pectoral Sandpipers (one liked to bully this poor Least Sandpiper), along with both Solitary and Spotted Sands.  But this other peep came close and even flew around a little, and it was indeed a White-rumped Sandpiper (he was even close enough to see the diagnostic rusty base to the lower mandible)!  So I reneged on my Baird’s… J

The gang enjoying birds from the Birding Center boardwalk

Tim scours the distant wetlands for goodies

Spotted Sandpiper

Cooperative Clapper Rail

Dull brown shoulder separates Clapper from King Rail, which has a rusty shoulder.
Tricolored Heron in full breeding colors

Pectoral Sandpiper

Common Gallinule (check out those toes!)

Mottled Duck

Black-bellied Whistling Duck

Immature Little Blue Heron (yes, really)

Black-necked Stilt

Yet another confiding Sora

We were surprised to see no Alligators, but going by the east pond in better light we added the Redheads and some Blue-winged Teal to the list.  We also managed to find what we figured was the same subadult Yellow-crowned Night Heron we had seen last week!  As we made our way back to the parking lot we got great looks at the “tower” Peregrine, and back at the car we had a little flock of birds where I saw some Lark Sparrows and Tim spotted a Chipping Sparrow, and it was one of those situations where you think you’re looking at the same bird (but you’re not) and start having a debate about it! J  Another Dickcissel was in with them, so I think Mike finally got his shot! J  There was a big flock of Brown-headed Cowbirds there, along with a ground squirrel that I’m pretty sure was Spotted (as opposed to the more common Mexican), as the spots weren’t in neat rows as in the Mexican.

Pied-billed Grebe

(Check out the lobed toes!)

Blue-winged Teal

Peregrine Falcon catching a few zzz's

Spotted Ground Squirrel

Check out those claws!

Brown-headed Cowbird

We really had to take off after that, but I promised to make a reeely quick stop at the Hwy 48 Boat Ramp to try for the Oystercatcher.  Dipped on that, but picked up Wilson’s Plover and two tern species for the day instead.  A couple asking us about the Oystercatchers announced they had a Swallow-tailed Kite on the way up that morning, which caused some consternation amongst the group! J

Today’s list was the biggest yet (for me, anyway), and I added eight species to the list which the gang saw but I missed.  Bird list:

  Black-bellied Whistling-Duck         
  Mottled Duck                         
  Blue-winged Teal                      
  Red-breasted Merganser               
  Pied-billed Grebe                    
  Neotropic Cormorant                  
  Double-crested Cormorant             
  Brown Pelican                        
  Least Bittern                        
  Great Blue Heron                     
  Great Egret                          
  Snowy Egret                          
  Little Blue Heron                    
  Tricolored Heron                     
  Reddish Egret                        
  Cattle Egret                         
  Green Heron                          
  Yellow-crowned Night-Heron           
  White Ibis                           
  Roseate Spoonbill                    
  Turkey Vulture
  Harris's Hawk                        
  Swainson's Hawk                      
  Clapper Rail                         
  Common Gallinule                     
  American Coot                         
  Black-necked Stilt                   
  Black-bellied Plover                 
  Wilson's Plover                      
  Semipalmated Plover                  
  Spotted Sandpiper                    
  Solitary Sandpiper                    
  Greater Yellowlegs                   
  Lesser Yellowlegs                    
  Ruddy Turnstone                      
  Stilt Sandpiper                      
  Least Sandpiper                      
  White-rumped Sandpiper               
  Pectoral Sandpiper                   
  Short-billed Dowitcher               
  Laughing Gull                        
  Ring-billed Gull                     
  Least Tern                           
  Gull-billed Tern                     
  Caspian Tern                         
  Forster's Tern                       
  Royal Tern                           
  Black Skimmer                        
  Rock Pigeon                           
  Eurasian Collared-Dove               
  Mourning Dove                        
  Yellow-billed Cuckoo                 
  Black-billed Cuckoo                  
  Ruby-throated Hummingbird            
  Peregrine Falcon                      
  Eastern Wood-Pewee                   
  Least Flycatcher                     
  Great Kiskadee                       
  Tropical Kingbird                    
  Western Kingbird                     
  Eastern Kingbird                      
  White-eyed Vireo                     
  Blue-headed Vireo                    
  Philadelphia Vireo
  Warbling Vireo                       
  Red-eyed Vireo                       
  Northern Rough-winged Swallow        
  Barn Swallow                          
  Marsh Wren                           
  Gray-cheeked Thrush                  
  Swainson's Thrush                    
  Gray Catbird                         
  European Starling                     
  Northern Waterthrush                 
  Worm-eating Warbler
  Blue-winged Warbler                  
  Black-and-white Warbler              
  Northern Parula
  Tennessee Warbler                    
  Nashville Warbler                    
  Common Yellowthroat                  
  Hooded Warbler    
  Kentucky Warbler                  
  Cerulean Warbler                     
  Blackburnian Warbler
  Bay-breasted Warbler                
  Yellow Warbler                       
  Black-throated Green Warbler         
  Yellow-breasted Chat
  Chipping Sparrow                     
  Lark Sparrow                         
  Lincoln's Sparrow                    
  Summer Tanager                       
  Scarlet Tanager                      
  Rose-breasted Grosbeak               
  Blue Grosbeak                        
  Indigo Bunting                       
  Painted Bunting                      
  Red-winged Blackbird                 
  Yellow-headed Blackbird              
  Great-tailed Grackle                 
  Brown-headed Cowbird                 
  Orchard Oriole                       
  Baltimore Oriole                     
  House Sparrow                         


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