Tuesday, April 19, 2016

South Padre Island, 4/18/16

A Scarlet Tanager along with Palm and Canada Warblers were reported yesterday among the migrant passerines on South Padre Island so I thought it was worth a trip as I needed those for my year list.  Turns out I didn't see any of those but I still had a great day.  Upon arrival at Sheepshead the group of birders already there was excited about a Cape May Warbler.  I  failed to see one last year and they are pretty uncommon down here.  And this one was a little early.  Afraid I could not get this one in good light.

Within seconds I also saw my first Chestnut-sided Warbler of the year.

A Wilson's Warbler flitted overhead.

 Along with Northern Parulas and Black-and-white, Nashville and Tennessee Warblers.

I left Sheepshead with my warbler talley at eight species and drove over to Campeche Street.  The great vacant lot there was cleaned up and fenced a few years ago but the popinac trees remain and it still attracts a few warblers.  There I added Black-throated Green and Hooded Warblers to my list.   I got skunked on Atol but cleaned up on Oleander with Yellow and Yellow-throated Warblers, American Redstart, Yellow-breasted Chat and this stonkin' Blackburnian Warbler.  I'm up to fifteen species of warblers now.

Then it was on to the Convention Center.  It was approaching lunch time so I thought I would park in the front lot by the flats and eat my lunch.  I was also hoping the crowd of birders would get hungry and leave so I could have the the birds all to myself.  The tide was high and had forced some of the shorebirds into the grass along the flats where they seemed to be enjoying their own lunch.  The Short-billed Dowitchers and Dunlins were just coming into breeding plumage.

How about a sharp Semipalmated Plover?

OK, lunch over it was time to get back to the passerines.  The few birders left told me about a Black-poll Warbler.  It was my first of the year.  I also added Yellow-rumped Warbler, Common Yellowthroat and an Ovenbird to get my list to 18.

While searching for the Ovenbird I saw this cool Wood Thrush.

Male Summer tanagers were striking in their "piebald" plumage.

This Western Tanager is rather drab but I'll take it.

Now it was back to Sheepshead to see if anything new had dropped in during the afternoon.  A Northern Waterthrush and a Worm-eating Warbler was nice.

And then this beautiful Golden-winged Warbler appeared.  This may have been the prettiest specimen I've ever seen but I sure had trouble getting my camera on it.

I finished the day with 21 species of warblers.  That was pretty good considering that it was really not a very birdy day.

South Padre Island, Cameron, Texas, US
Apr 18, 2016 8:40 AM - 5:00 PM
Protocol: Traveling
5.0 mile(s)
Comments: Sheepshead, Campeche, Atol, Oleander and Convention Center
70 species (+1 other taxa)

Black-bellied Whistling-Duck 10
Brown Pelican 20
Tricolored Heron 1
Black-bellied Plover 1
Semipalmated Plover 1
Willet 2
Ruddy Turnstone 1
Sanderling 35
Dunlin 10
Least Sandpiper 10
Short-billed Dowitcher 12
Laughing Gull 25
Black Skimmer 100
Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon) 30
Eurasian Collared-Dove 10
White-winged Dove 2
Yellow-billed Cuckoo 1
Ruby-throated Hummingbird 10
Ladder-backed Woodpecker 1
Merlin 1
Eastern Wood-Pewee 2
Acadian Flycatcher 1
Great Kiskadee 1
Western Kingbird 2
Eastern Kingbird 1
White-eyed Vireo 1
Warbling Vireo 3
Red-eyed Vireo 1
Barn Swallow 20
Gray-cheeked Thrush 1
Swainson's Thrush 4
Wood Thrush 2
Gray Catbird 2
Long-billed Thrasher 2
Northern Mockingbird 2
Ovenbird 1
Worm-eating Warbler 2
Northern Waterthrush 1
Golden-winged Warbler 1
Black-and-white Warbler 6
Tennessee Warbler 12
Nashville Warbler 10
Common Yellowthroat 4
Hooded Warbler 2
American Redstart 2
Cape May Warbler 1
Northern Parula 8
Blackburnian Warbler 1
Yellow Warbler 2
Chestnut-sided Warbler 5
Blackpoll Warbler 1
Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle) 1
Yellow-rumped Warbler (Audubon's) 1
Yellow-throated Warbler 1
Black-throated Green Warbler 2
Wilson's Warbler 2
Yellow-breasted Chat 2
Chipping Sparrow 1
Clay-colored Sparrow 1
Lincoln's Sparrow 2
Summer Tanager 5
Western Tanager 1
Indigo Bunting 5
Painted Bunting 1
Red-winged Blackbird 70
Yellow-headed Blackbird 3
Great-tailed Grackle 10
Brown-headed Cowbird 5
Orchard Oriole 10
Baltimore Oriole 10
House Sparrow 10

Thursday, April 14, 2016

South Padre Island, 4/13/16

With a weak cold front forecast to come from the north I thought it might be a good day to head out to South Padre Island and see what migrants might be about.  The day started slowly at the Convention Center, dark and drippy with more birders than birds.   This Prairie Warbler has been present for several days but the reported Black-billed Cuckoo was a no show.

First Western Kingbird for the year.

There were a few wet Northern Parulas and Nashville, Tennessee, Orange-crowned, Yellow-rumped and Black-and-white Warblers around.  By lunchtime most of the birders had left and I decided to drive out on the flats and check out the pink-bellied Franklin's Gulls that had been passing over during the morning.

Found a couple of Least Terns, my first of the year.

This Short-billed Dowitcher looks a little messed up.

It started to rain harder and the tide was coming in so I left the flats and decided to check out Sheepshead. Not much was happening on the south side, just a Hooded Warbler and a Northern Waterthrush.

Across the street was a small flock with the same species as at the Convention Center.  And then I caught a glimpse of a white belly with a narrow bluish breast band........Cerulean Warbler!

Only a couple of birders were present to enjoy this bird and the rain started to increase.  In fact it rained really hard and the wind had increased from the north.  Our cold front was passing through.  I headed back up to the Convention Center to see if anything new had arrived and found few bright male Indigo Buntings and a couple of Painted Buntings.

I missed the reported Louisiana Waterthrush but managed to dig out a Kentucky Warbler.

I drove back to Sheepshead, checking out Oleander St. along the way.  A large new house was occupying one of my formerly favorite vacant lots.  I didn't check out Atol or Campeche.  The vacant lots are quickly disappearing on South Padre Island.  Back at Sheepshead a large crowd had gathered to look for the Cerulean Warbler and had found our first Blackburnian Warbler for the year.

And then I refound the Cerulean.  The group was happy about that.

Then a Blue-winged Warbler was found across the street.

I added a Wilson's and a Worm-eating Warbler to raise my day's warbler tally to seventeen.  Here's the list.

South Padre Island, Cameron, Texas, US
Apr 13, 2016 9:00 AM - 5:35 PM
Protocol: Traveling
5.0 mile(s)
71 species (+1 other taxa)

Black-bellied Whistling-Duck 4
Mottled Duck (Gulf Coast) 2
Pied-billed Grebe 1
Neotropic Cormorant 1
Great Blue Heron 1
Reddish Egret 1
Cattle Egret (Western) 120
Clapper Rail 1
Sora 1
Black-bellied Plover 4
Wilson's Plover 1
Willet 5
Ruddy Turnstone 2
Sanderling 12
Short-billed Dowitcher 6
Laughing Gull 50
Franklin's Gull 500
Ring-billed Gull 1
Least Tern 2
Royal Tern 2
Sandwich Tern 15
Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon) 5
Eurasian Collared-Dove 12
White-winged Dove 2
Yellow-billed Cuckoo 1
Lesser Nighthawk 2
nighthawk sp. 2
Chimney Swift 10
Ruby-throated Hummingbird 6
Golden-fronted Woodpecker 1
Great Crested Flycatcher 1
Western Kingbird 2
Scissor-tailed Flycatcher 1
White-eyed Vireo 1
Warbling Vireo 1
Northern Rough-winged Swallow 10
Tree Swallow 1
Bank Swallow 1
Barn Swallow 50
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher 2
Ruby-crowned Kinglet 1
Swainson's Thrush 2
Wood Thrush 1
Long-billed Thrasher 1
Northern Mockingbird 1
Worm-eating Warbler 1
Northern Waterthrush 3
Blue-winged Warbler 1
Black-and-white Warbler 5
Tennessee Warbler 8
Orange-crowned Warbler 3
Nashville Warbler 4
Kentucky Warbler 1
Common Yellowthroat 1
Hooded Warbler 1
Cerulean Warbler 1
Northern Parula 3
Blackburnian Warbler 1
Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle) 8
Prairie Warbler 1
Black-throated Green Warbler 4
Wilson's Warbler 1
Savannah Sparrow 5
Lincoln's Sparrow 5
Summer Tanager 2
Blue Grosbeak 1
Indigo Bunting 10
Painted Bunting 4
Red-winged Blackbird 100
Brown-headed Cowbird 12
Orchard Oriole 2
House Sparrow 10

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Frontera Audubon, 4/9-10/16

I spent the past two mornings at Frontera Audubon in Weslaco trying to see some of the new incoming migrants.  This morning there were at least three Worm-eating Warblers and I finally got one to cooperate a bit.

They love searching through old dead leaf tangles and spend a lot of time engaged in acrobatics.  I bet they eat more spiders than worms.

I missed the Blue-winged Warbler yesterday but had a brief encounter today.

I flushed several nightjars.  I think the heavy black striping on the crown makes this an Eastern Whip-poor-will.  I also saw a couple of Chuck-will's-widows based on rusty color and large size.

As far as the wintering rarities go, I heard the Crimson-collared Grosbeak calling "see-ooo" right over my head but I could not see it.  It then flew past me to the neighbor's property to the south where it called several more times.  The Blue Bunting was much more friendly.

The female Black-headed Grosbeak is still putting in an occasional appearance at the feeding stations.  I would think she should be leaving soon.

Common Gallinule is not common at Frontera so it was nice to see a pair today.  Hope they stay.

I found this Buff-bellied Hummingbird in a spot of sunshine off the trail and it stretched its wings and tail.  I hoped that it would do it again.  And it did!

Here are my lists for the past two days.

Apr 10, 2016 8:00 AM - 12:00 PM
Protocol: Traveling
1.0 mile(s)
49 species

Black-bellied Whistling-Duck 8
Plain Chachalaca 12
Great Blue Heron 1
Great Egret 1
Snowy Egret 1
Yellow-crowned Night-Heron 1
Turkey Vulture 1
Sharp-shinned Hawk 1
Common Gallinule 2
Laughing Gull 1
Inca Dove 2
White-tipped Dove 8
White-winged Dove 3
Chuck-will's-widow 2
Eastern Whip-poor-will 1
Chimney Swift 5
Ruby-throated Hummingbird 1
Black-chinned Hummingbird 1
Buff-bellied Hummingbird 2
Golden-fronted Woodpecker 5
Red-crowned Parrot 2
Green Parakeet 2
Great Crested Flycatcher 2
Brown-crested Flycatcher 2
Great Kiskadee 4
Couch's Kingbird 4
White-eyed Vireo 3
Blue-headed Vireo 1
Green Jay 1
Barn Swallow 1
Black-crested Titmouse 4
Carolina Wren 3
Clay-colored Thrush 4
Long-billed Thrasher 2
Northern Mockingbird 1
European Starling 4
Worm-eating Warbler 3
Louisiana Waterthrush 1
Blue-winged Warbler 1
Common Yellowthroat 1
Olive Sparrow 3
Lark Sparrow 2
Crimson-collared Grosbeak 1
Northern Cardinal 6
Black-headed Grosbeak 1
Blue Bunting 1
Red-winged Blackbird 1
Great-tailed Grackle 3
House Sparrow 1

Apr 9, 2016 8:00 AM - 12:30 PM
Protocol: Traveling
1.0 mile(s)
45 species

Black-bellied Whistling-Duck 14
Plain Chachalaca 10
Great Egret 1
White Ibis 1
Turkey Vulture 1
Sharp-shinned Hawk 1
Broad-winged Hawk 1
Swainson's Hawk 1
Inca Dove 2
White-tipped Dove 8
White-winged Dove 3
Mourning Dove 1
Yellow-billed Cuckoo 1
Chimney Swift 6
Buff-bellied Hummingbird 2
Golden-fronted Woodpecker 3
Red-crowned Parrot 2
Green Parakeet 2
Brown-crested Flycatcher 1
Great Kiskadee 1
White-eyed Vireo 4
Blue-headed Vireo 1
Green Jay 1
Northern Rough-winged Swallow 3
Purple Martin 2
Barn Swallow 3
Cliff Swallow 3
Cave Swallow 1
Black-crested Titmouse 3
Carolina Wren 3
Swainson's Thrush 1
Clay-colored Thrush 3
Long-billed Thrasher 3
Northern Mockingbird 4
Worm-eating Warbler 1
Black-and-white Warbler 1
Orange-crowned Warbler 3
Kentucky Warbler 1
Common Yellowthroat 1
Hooded Warbler 2
Olive Sparrow 2
Northern Cardinal 8
Blue Bunting 1
Great-tailed Grackle 3
House Sparrow 1

Heermann's Gull at Texas City Dike, 3/30/16

I'm a little behind on my blog entries so here goes.  A first winter Heermann's Gull was found on March 28 at the Bolivar flats and I didn't worry too much about chasing it as these birds have a habit of not hanging around.  But it was found again the next day on the Texas City Dike near a fish cleaning station.  I figured that might be enough to make it stay a spell so I blasted off at 2AM on March 30 and arrived at the spot at about 8:30 and there was the bird.  I didn't even have to get out of the car.  This is the fourth record for this species in Texas.

At the same spot was a great first winter Glaucous Gull.

I spent a couple of hours on the dike trying to do a gull big day, but the only others I could find were the usual Laughing, Ring-billed, Herring and Bonaparte's Gulls.  But what a great place to bird!  With nothing else unusual up there I just turned around and headed for home.  It turned out to be a 750 mile day but well worth it.