Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher @ Sabine Woods

Yesterday I visited Sabine Woods. It was a good day for mosqitoes, but not so great for neotropical migrants. Warblers were particularly scarce - during several hours of searching I saw only 2 Tennessee Warblers, a Northern Parula, a Blackpoll Warbler, 1-2 Ovenbirds, a few Common Yellowthroats, a Northern Waterthrush, and a Yellow-breasted Chat. There were a few other migrants present in low numbers, such as Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Gray Catbird, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Indigo Bunting, and Baltimore Oriole. Didn't see a single thrush or tanager.

Numbers and variety of birds were low, but there was one truly exceptional find, a Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher (rare in the US outside of its normal range in southern Arizona). Apparently it was easily observed in the morning prior to my arrival, but then became more elusive. I located the bird at about 12:30pm, and got a few brief glimpses of it before it disappeared again. Most of the birders who came later in the day were not so lucky. A couple of birders did manage to find it again, but most of those who searched in the afternoon were disappointed.

Texas in springtime is a major birding destination. In April birders from all over North American and Europe converge on the more famous sites, like High Island and Sabine Woods. It's not unusual to run into someone you know. Yesterday Jon Dunn was leading a tour group at Sabine Woods. I was surprised that he still recognized me, since we haven't seen each other in years. He asked if I had seen any bears, so apparently he also remembers a little incident involving me, another tour group, and a grizzly.


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