Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Dutch Treat, Part 1


Met Wim (pronounced “Vim”), Suus (“Soosh”), and Kees (“Case”) at the old building, and after filling their little cooler with cold water we were off!  They were part of a Birding Breaks tour from the Netherlands that coincided with our annual Spring Tour, and they had already been birding steadily since Keith picked them up in Houston on the 16th!  I had the privilege of guiding them for three days starting today, and our goal was migrants on the Island!

Anna Manual had already taken them out there the day before (as that was the day of the actual front, such as it was), but migrants always hang around a day or two after a front, so the “day after” promised to be good as well.  Suus and Kees both had “big guns”, so when I mentioned shorebird and larid photo ops on The Flats, they were very interested!  Just as we pulled in and I stopped long enough to get my bins out, three dark birds were on a distant bush that I just assumed were Indigo Buntings, but Kees declared, “Bobolinks!”  “You’re kidding!” said I, and thus started a day with miracle bird after miracle bird (although we had to work pretty hard for some of them)! J

Suus and Wim enjoy some vagrant Bobolinks (below)

The group mentioned that they had seen Franklin’s Gulls flying over on a previous day but really wanted to see some sitting, so after enjoying the Bobolinks we had barely rolled forward when a huge flock of Franklin’s Gulls wheeled over, acting like they wanted to land on the shore!  Eventually they did, so we went after ‘em, and I had never seen Franklin’s Gulls so pink in all my life!  They were gorgeous!  The other beach bums seemed to pale in comparison, but we had nice looks at breeding-plumaged Short-billed Dowitchers, Black-bellied and Semipalmated Plovers, Dunlin, and even a Common Tern in with all the others who were trying to impress their respective mates!

A Franklin's Gull wheels in to join the substantial flock (below)!

These birds become very rosy in breeding plumage!

Can you find the one oddball bird in the group?
Least Tern pair

Sandwich Tern pair

Black-bellied Plover really gets his black belly this time of year!

Semipalmated Plovers

We then wheeled into the Convention Centre, where we actually had to park in the “real” parking lot as the place was packed already!  The Official Greeters were there (Black-bellied Whistling Ducks), but we were also greeted with a mob of Indigo Buntings, in the center of which, trying to hide, was a sharp-looking Clay-colored Sparrow!  (That’s the height of birding irony when you’re more excited about a sparrow than these brilliant blue buntings!)  The water feature was fairly quiet with only a few Catbirds and a Tennessee Warbler coming in at first, but that could have been because Momma Mottled Duck had her ducklings in there hogging the bath! J 

Killdeer in the median of the Convention Centre drive

A gang of Indigo Buntings is hiding a Clay-colored Sparrow (also below)!

Tennessee Warbler

Indigo Bunting

Kees had figured out his own routine from yesterday, so we kind of followed him around, and coming around the corner “Salineño Mike” was on the bench with another gal, pointing out both Swainson’s and Gray-cheeked Thrushes!  My charges need the Graycheek, so Mike abandoned his post and let us have the bench, and we got great looks!  Baltimore Orioles were out the yin yang, with the odd female and young male Orchard still hanging around.  I suggested sitting on the “corner bench” for awhile to see if the thrushes would come in there (I had the Wood Thrush a couple of weeks ago there), but we weren’t there long before Wim came running for us – he found a Rose-breasted Grosbeak!  So we all scurried to the area near the back deck and waited, where in the meantime what I thought was a pewee at first morphed into an empid of some kind; I was leaning towards Acadian, but it didn’t look green enough.  I mused, “Where’s Dan Jones when you need him?” and after we refound the grosbeak and enjoyed him, soon to be upstaged by a Louisiana Waterthrush J, here came Dan!  We showed him the pictures and he said it sure looked like an Acadian to him, so that was good enough for us! J

Gray-cheeked Thrush

Swainson's Thrush

Baltimore Oriole

Acadian Flycatcher

Rose-breasted Grosbeak

Louisiana Waterthrush

We soon got word that Cerulean and Blue-winged Warblers were being seen on the boardwalk, so out we went!  There were indeed warblers out there, but we sure had to work for them: Canada, Black-and-white, and Black-throated Green were the major players, but my guidees from earlier in the week (Linda, Murray, and Patty) had found a Black-throated Blue at the end!  So when one of our local birders Pat DeWinter refound it and called us, we headed out there and waited, and were finally rewarded with very quick views!  Unfortunately Suus and Kaas never saw it, but since they had already seen it in Florida they weren’t too disappointed… J  But on the way back Kaas found another prize:  the female Cerulean Warbler!  That was definitely a hit!

Black-throated Green Warbler

Since Suus and Wim had missed the Least Bittern the day before, we decided to head out on the other boardwalk, pausing long enough to log the Roseate Spoonbill, Spotted Sandpiper, and comparative looks at both yellowlegs in the “east pond”.  Continuing on, I warned them that a flight view might be all we get, and to look for a tiny heron with big, buffy wing patches!  I had barely gotten that out of my mouth when the bittern flew right across!  That was good enough, so we did an about face and headed back to the gardens, where we added Myrtle, Yellow-throated, and the female Cape May Warbler to the list! 

Yellow-throated Warbler

Female Cape May Warbler

Lunch called, and the gang suggested eating at one of the benches in the “circular area”, as they had had oodles of birds the day before there!  It was definitely quieter today, as I can’t even recall if anything came to visit, so we wolfed down our food and headed to Sheepshead, enjoying a cooperative Catbird from the car on the way out!  On the way I stopped at Oleander on a whim (based on a report the night before of Golden-winged Warbler), and I couldn’t believe it:  we had the whole place to ourselves, and it was hopping!  Hooded, Kentucky, and Chestnut-sided Warblers, Ovenbird, Blue-headed and Red-eyed Vireos, Painted Buntings, Eastern Wood Pewees, and a Summer Tanager all made appearances, and some (like the Hoodies, Kentucky, and pewee) were very friendly indeed!  A Tropical Kingbird tittered, and just as I mentioned that we’d have to go track that one down, he came to us!  That was special!

Gray Catbird

Enjoying the birds at Oleander (R-L: Wim, Suus, Kaas, and two other birders...)

Eastern Wood Pewee

Four views of a friendly first-year Hooded Warbler

Kentucky Warbler sneaking through the grass

Sheepshead was pretty quiet except for the orioles, but we managed to add Northern Parula (always by the orange), the Northern Waterthrush who was still at the back of the South Side, both Buff-bellied and Ruby-throated Hummers, and Barbara’s Warbling Vireo J!  A Wood Thrush made his Curve-billed Thrasher-like rapid-fire call from the back, but never showed for us.  But the absolute highlight was a male Golden-winged Warbler that came in to the South Side and eventually gave everyone great views! 

Fuzzy snapshots of a rapidly-moving Golden-winged Warbler, a "most-wanted" species on many birders' migrant wish list!

What a day!  And for an Island-only day, we didn’t do badly with 95 species (and we didn’t even make it to the Birding Center)!  Bird list:

  Black-bellied Whistling-Duck         
  Mottled Duck                         
  Blue-winged Teal                     
  Neotropic Cormorant                  
  Least Bittern                        
  Great Blue Heron                     
  Snowy Egret                          
  Tricolored Heron                     
  Reddish Egret                        
  Cattle Egret                          
  White Ibis                           
  Roseate Spoonbill                    
  Turkey Vulture                       
  Harris's Hawk                        
  Common Gallinule                      
  American Coot                        
  Black-necked Stilt                   
  Black-bellied Plover                 
  Semipalmated Plover                  
  Spotted Sandpiper                    
  Greater Yellowlegs                   
  Marbled Godwit                       
  Ruddy Turnstone                      
  Least Sandpiper                      
  Short-billed Dowitcher               
  Laughing Gull                        
  Franklin's Gull                      
  Ring-billed Gull                     
  Least Tern                           
  Caspian Tern                         
  Common Tern                           
  Royal Tern                           
  Sandwich Tern                        
  Black Skimmer                        
  Rock Pigeon                          
  Eurasian Collared-Dove               
  White-winged Dove                     
  Mourning Dove                        
  Inca Dove                            
  Lesser Nighthawk                     
  Ruby-throated Hummingbird            
  Buff-bellied Hummingbird             
  Eastern Wood-Pewee                   
  Acadian Flycatcher                   
  Great Kiskadee                       
  Tropical Kingbird                    
  Blue-headed Vireo                    
  Warbling Vireo                       
  Red-eyed Vireo                       
  Barn Swallow                          
  Marsh Wren                           
  Gray-cheeked Thrush                  
  Swainson's Thrush                    
  Wood Thrush                          
  Gray Catbird                         
  Northern Mockingbird                  
  European Starling                    
  Louisiana Waterthrush                
  Northern Waterthrush                 
  Golden-winged Warbler                
  Black-and-white Warbler               
  Tennessee Warbler                    
  Kentucky Warbler                     
  Common Yellowthroat                  
  Hooded Warbler                       
  Cape May Warbler                     
  Cerulean Warbler                     
  Northern Parula                      
  Yellow Warbler                       
  Chestnut-sided Warbler               
  Black-throated Blue Warbler          
  Yellow-rumped Warbler                
  Yellow-throated Warbler              
  Black-throated Green Warbler         
  Canada Warbler                       
  Wilson's Warbler                     
  Clay-colored Sparrow                 
  Lincoln's Sparrow                    
  Summer Tanager                       
  Rose-breasted Grosbeak                
  Indigo Bunting                       
  Painted Bunting                      
  Red-winged Blackbird                 
  Eastern Meadowlark                    
  Great-tailed Grackle                 
  Orchard Oriole                       
  Baltimore Oriole                     
  House Sparrow                        


No comments:

Post a Comment