Friday, October 26, 2018

Western Gull at Port Aransas Jetty, 10/26/18

Wow, the good birds are coming fast and furious.  Yesterday Andre Orgill found a second year Western Gull on the beach at the Port Aransas Jetty.  This is only the fourth Texas record of this Pacific coast gull species.  I missed the last one during November of 2004 at Sal del Rey.  So I made sure to run up early and grab this one.  It was pretty cooperative.  The mantle is much darker than that of the Common Herring Gulls and the species is larger than the slightly darker Lesser Black-backed Gull.  Slaty-backed Gull is similar in color but has a much smaller bill.

Just down the beach was a Lesser Black-backed Gull.

After viewing my 577th Texas species, I ran over to Paradise Pond.  It's just a shell of its former self.  The city has been removing Brazilian Pepper and then it got clobbered by storm surge during last year's hurricane.  But things are coming back and I found a couple of good birds.  This Yellow-bellied Flycatcher is a little late.

This female Scarlet Tanager was a surprise.

And then there was both a Philadelphia and a Red-eyed Vireo.

The Leonabelle Turnbull Birding Center is also recovering from the hurricane.  The storm surge flooded the marsh with salt water and killed all the vegetation not to mention destroying the board walk.  But the the little line of trees along the entrance was still attracting migrant warblers including some good ones like this Blue-winged Warbler.

Normally uncommon in fall, Bay-breasted and Chestnut-sided Warblers are showing up all along the coast the past couple of weeks.  

The same Chestnut-sided Warbler along with a Tennessee was finding something to eat on the rusty chain link fence.

This Northern Parula was pretty fearless as it foraged on the ground.

I don't get to see this immature Yellow-bellied Sapsucker plumage very often.

Hopefully I can get a couple days work done in the yard before the next chase.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Gray Flycatcher at South Padre Island, 10/23/18

After a cool drippy day with a north wind yesterday, I decided to head out to South Padre Island and see if the good warblers reported lately were still around.  Weather was better but it was still gray with a stiff north wind.  As I pulled up to the Sheepshead lot I had to be careful not to run over a couple of Black-throated Green Warblers and a Magnolia Warbler.  I knew it was going to be a good day.  A couple of other birders I know were present and we were having a great time chasing warblers around.  American Restarts were all over.  I failed to get a good shot of the Bay-breasted and Palm Warblers.  Dang!

Then I wandered over to the corner on Laguna to check out the mesquites and there was this little gray Empidonax flycatcher.  It was really gray.  And had a relatively long skinny bill with a yellow lower mandible with a black tip.  And it wagged its tail downwards instead of a quick upwards flick like most empids.  Holy smokes!  Gray Flycatcher!  Best I can tell it's the first ever record of this western species for Cameron County and only the second for the Valley.  One wintered at Bentsen back in 2011.  This was my 403rd species for Cameron County.

Now back to the pretty birds.  I finally got another Bay-breasted Warbler at the Convention Center.  It has been a really good fall for this species.

And got the Palm Warbler at Sheepshead.

Chestnut-sided Warbler is usually hard to find in fall.  Several have been reported lately.

It was so dark I opened my ISO up to 1600 and the shots weren't that bad.  Here's an Ovenbird.

Probably saw 20+ Magnolia Warblers today.

And just as many American Redstarts.

We usually have a few Black-throated Green Warblers spend the winter.

Plenty of Black-and-white Warblers around.

Vireos included White-eyed, Warbling, Yellow-throated and several Philadelphias.

Fall Scarlet Tanagers are always a treat.

My first Hermit Thrush of the fall.

And there were two Wood Thrushes.

This White-crowned Sparrow at Sheepshead was a surprise.

I wanted a Black-billed Cuckoo but had to settle for a couple of Yellow-billeds.

Yesterday I saw my first Yellow-bellied Sapsucker of the fall in our yard.  Saw another today.

Heck of a day!  I'm ready for bed.

Friday, October 12, 2018

White-crowned Pigeon at South Padre Island, 10/4/18

I was cleaning out my SD card and realized I had not posted this so here goes.  Honey's parents are visiting from the Philippines and we decided to take them up to San Antonio to see the Spurs last week.  After we had been on the road a couple of hours my WhatsApp dinged and it turned out that Javi Gonzalez had just found a White-crowned Pigeon at the Birding Center on South Padre Island.  Wow!  The first accepted record for Texas of this Caribbean species, a juvenal in Galveston, was just accepted last year.  There was was a previous sight record from the Laguna Madre years ago.  So this was a biggie.  No way I could turn around and go see it.   So I rolled my frustrations into a bitter little pill and swallowed.  The chances of this bird staying were slim at best.

Well, we watched the Spurs and did some other stuff and headed for home the next day.  Dang, the bird was still there.  My next fear was that it was not healthy and some do-gooder would want to capture it for rehabilitation.  But it was still there when we got home, so I raced out to the Island.  The bird is still present as I write this a week later.  Apparently it is feeding on the fruit of native plants on the park grounds.

Honey and I saw quite a few of them in Florida in the Everglades and on the Keys last year.  But I never thought I would see one in Texas.