Friday, March 23, 2018

Beach at South Padre Island, 3/19/18

The winds were fairly calm and a front was scheduled to pass through later in the day so I thought a visit to the beach at South Padre Island was in order.  Driving conditions were pretty good  for the most part though there were a few spots with deep ruts.  But my old Tacoma 4x4 was up to the task and it was in interesting day of early spring migration along the coast.  Eight or more large flocks of migrating White Ibises totaling about 1500 birds were neat to see.

What probably stood out most to me on the day was the migrating duck diversity with a total of nine species seen.  The Red-breasted Mergansers at the Port Mansfield cut and a Lesser Scaup were not unusual but a flock of thirty Fulvous Whistling -Ducks were my first for the beach.

I didn't get a photo of the three Northern Shovelers but this flock of about sixty birds was made of American Wigeons, Northern Pintails, Gadwalls and Blue and Green-winged Teals.  That made a total of nice species of ducks either over or in the Gulf.

There were tons of terns with seven species represented.  The Least Terns are back.

Some of the Sandwich Terns were pink breasted and ready for action.

Gull-billed Terns were present only on the Willacy County portion of the beach.

I only saw two Common Terns.

Shorebirds are just getting started on their way back north.  I saw mostly Sanderlings, Ruddy Turnstones, Willets and Black-bellied Plovers.  But this flock also had a couple of Dunlins and an undetermined dowitcher.

My first Wilson's Plover of the year was the only small plover I saw.

This may be my first beach Tricolored Heron.

"What are you looking at?"

Here are the lists for the day.

South Padre Is.--N. of Beach Access rd. 6 (Cameron Co.), Cameron, Texas, US
Mar 19, 2018 12:30 PM - 2:10 PM
Protocol: Traveling
14.5 mile(s)
Comments: from beach access 6 to Willacy line
25 species

Fulvous Whistling-Duck 40
Blue-winged Teal 10
Northern Shoveler 3
Gadwall 5
American Wigeon 5
Northern Pintail 15
Green-winged Teal (American) 10
Lesser Scaup 1
Double-crested Cormorant 4
American White Pelican 180
Great Blue Heron (Blue form) 1
White Ibis 200 migrating flocks
Long-billed Curlew 1
Ruddy Turnstone 17
Sanderling 165
Willet 60
Laughing Gull 140
Ring-billed Gull 11
Herring Gull (American) 51
Lesser Black-backed Gull 1
Least Tern 30
Common Tern 2
Forster's Tern 1
Royal Tern 335
Sandwich Tern (Cabot's) 96

South Padre Is.--Willacy Co., Willacy, Texas, US
Mar 19, 2018 2:10 PM - 4:50 PM
Protocol: Traveling
10.5 mile(s)
Comments: Willacy county line to Port Mansfield cut.
26 species (+1 other taxa)

Blue-winged Teal 6
Red-breasted Merganser 2
Double-crested Cormorant 80
Brown Pelican 860
Great Blue Heron (Blue form) 3
Great Egret 4
Snowy Egret 1
Cattle Egret 10
White Ibis 1270
American Coot (Red-shielded) 1
Black-bellied Plover 38
Wilson's Plover 2
Ruddy Turnstone 27
Sanderling 165
Dunlin 2
Short-billed/Long-billed Dowitcher 1
Willet 47
Laughing Gull 72
Ring-billed Gull 15
Herring Gull (American) 83
Least Tern 5
Gull-billed Tern 16
Caspian Tern 2
Forster's Tern 1
Royal Tern 532
Sandwich Tern 35
Crested Caracara 1