Wednesday, March 5, 2014

South Padre Island, 3/5/14

Recently there's been a couple of reports of a Thayer's Gull hanging around the south end ot South Padre Island.  So I loaded up the truck and headed out there this morning hoping to find what would be a new state bird for me.  This was my second try for this bird.  Well, I checked out around Pier 19 and behind the boat barn and behind the campground with no luck.  I did flush a couple of Whimbrels which were new for my year list.  So I headed into the county park and checked the shoreline but still no Thayer's Gull.  But I did find a nice surprise along the shoreline across the fence bordering the Coast Guard station.  It was a slightly misplaced American Golden-Plover.

Then I saw a spot of red and realized he had an equally misplaced buddy.....a Vermillion Flycatcher.  It's not everyday you can get both in the same, albeit poor, photo. And on the seashore under a mangrove!

There was a trickle of Tree and Barn Swallows passing through.

Giving up on the Thayer's Gull, I headed up to the Valley Land Fund's Sheepshead lot and found my first Louisiana Waterthrush for the year.  There was also a Gray Catbird and a smart Northern Parula.  Males are on their way north to stake out territories.

I saw another Northern Parula on Campeche and two more at the Convention Center.  But there wasn't much else interesting going on.  I did see four Common Loons and a large flock of Red-breasted Mergansers on the Laguna Madre along with the expected Redheads and American Wigeons.  Walking the boardwalk finally turned up my first Clapper Rail for the year.

It was now noon and time to drive the beach.  The strong north wind of the past few days was really churning up the surf and driving conditions were poor on the beach so I didn't make it all the way to the Port Mansfield Jetty.  There were no interesting gulls along the way but I did find my first Wilson's Plover for the year.

Then I found another American Golden-Plover.  Here's a diagnostic rump and axilar shot.

American Golden-Plover and Black-bellied Plover can confuse birders but structurally they're quite different.  Look at the difference in the bills.  American golden-Plover is more petite with a more upright posture.

The only other thing of note were a couple of large flocks of migrating White Ibises, at least 200 of 'em.

Driving the beach was getting difficult and it was time to head for home.  One more time I go home without a Thayer's Gull.  But it was still a fun day.

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