Sunday, April 15, 2007

Weekend at High Island

Went to High Island on Saturday, and had so much fun that I went back on Sunday. Given a choice I'd rather go mid-week and avoid the crowds, but I don't get to choose my days off, and any day spent birding is better than a day spent working.

It was very windy on Saturday, and the strong gusts blasting through the trees made it difficult to spot birds. I hadn't brought a jacket, and later I wished I had - by the end of the day my hands were numb from the cold. I thought the north wind might produce a fallout, which it didn't. Warblers were present but less numerous than on my previous visit. I did get a few additions to my year list at Smith Oaks - Western Kingbird, Nashville and Blackburnian Warblers, Yellow-breasted Chat, and Blue Grosbeak.

This cute little Hooded Warbler was photographed along a path at the Boy Scout Woods.There was one interesting migration event. At evening I witnessed a grounding (literally) of swallows at Smith Oaks. Just before dusk I had flocks of as many as six species (Tree, Barn, Cliff, Cave, Bank, and Northern Rough-winged) resting on the ground in the parking area. You can see five species in the group shot below. The birds were clearly exhausted, and I was able to get close enough to some of them for frame filling pictures.Sunday was warmer and sunnier, without the wind. I spent most of the afternoon at the Boy Scout Woods, sitting in the photo blind. There I endured hours of tedium to get just a few decent pictures. A drip next to the blind attracted Scarlet and Summer Tanagers, but not much else. Most of the birds that approached the water never came close enough to be photographed. I did get one lucky shot of an Ovenbird that ambled by. So patience paid off...more or less. I might have had more and better photo opportunities if I had instead spent the time walking trails.This male Bullock's Oriole was also at the Boy Scout Woods on Sunday. I think it's the first time I've ever seen this common western species in Southeast Texas.Shortly after seeing the oriole I had my first Yellow-billed Cuckoo of the season feeding on tent caterpillars at Purkey's Pond.On my way home I made a detour to Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge to do some shorebirding. Highlights there included flocks of Fulvous Whistling-Ducks, a distant Hudsonian Godwit, an American Golden-Plover, and a Yellow-throated Warbler. Again I birded until dusk.

Spring migration is a special time, and Michelle has been very sweet and understanding in encouraging me to go both days. Thanks Honey!

Here are a couple more weekend photos from the Boy Scout Woods at High Island (Blue-headed Vireo and Summer Tanager).


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