It's been a longtime since we've had a killing freeze here in the Rio Grande Valley and consequently the black mangroves at South Padre Island have really grown and increased in numbers. Some are 15 to 20 feet tall. Starting about a week ago, birders visiting the Island started to find more than a few warblers in the mangroves out on the boardwalks from the Convention Center and from the SPI Birding Center. This Black-throated Blue Warbler along the Convention Center boardwalk on 4/23 was a favorite for many.
The same day I got this Black-throated Green Warbler.
And this Northern Parula.
And this Black-and-white Warbler. I also saw Wilson's and Yellow-rumped Warblers and Common Yellowthroat. But I missed the Cerulean, Worm-eating and Canada Warblers.
Yesterday morning, 4/30, a Yellow-green Vireo was seen in the mangroves along the SPI Birding Center boardwalk and I spent a few hours looking for it. No luck but a bunch more "mangrove" warblers made it worthwhile. Here's a Bay-breasted Warbler on one of the black mangrove aerial roots.
My first Prothonotary Warbler for the year was a surprise.
Normally Golden-winged Warbler is a tough bird to find in the Valley but I saw four of them in the mangroves.
And there was it's cousin the Blue-winged Warbler. This female has some of the same sticky red substance on her forehead that we frequently see on spring Prothontary Warblers.
And a nice female Blackburnian Warbler.
And a poor shot of a Magnolia Warbler.
Northern Waterthrushes patrolled the mud under the mangroves.
American Redstarts are always had to photograph.
Not photographed were common Yellow, Tennessee and Hooded Warblers. I think other birders may have seen Nashville and Chestnut-sided Warblers but I'm not sure. This makes a total of 21 to 23 species seen in a habitat where in previous years four or five would have been a good total. Warblers were observed feeding on aphids in the mangroves and this might explain their presence. Or maybe we have a new habitat in Texas in which to search for spring warblers. The coming years will be interesting.
Update: After posting this blog entry on our local Facebook birding group, the following species have also been seen in the mangroves during the past couple of weeks: Chestnut-sided, Nashville, Townsend's, Blackpoll, Yellow-throated, Kentucky and Cape May Warblers and Ovenbird. That makes an amazing total of 29 species of warblers utilizing the mangrove habitat this spring.
Update: We are extending the time period to include birds seen back to March so Orange-crowned Warbler, Tropical Parula and Louisiana Waterthrush make a total of 32 warblers species utilizing the mangrove habitat this spring.