Thursday, 31 March 2016

Last Kick at the Can

Skip and I met our birding group for the last time this morning over at the lot at Sheepshead. It was pretty windy so we didn't see much. However, a scissor-tailed flycatcher posed for us for quite a long time.

We then headed over to the Convention Center. I have no idea what this fuzzy caterpillar will turn into.
The tide was high so there weren't may bird out on the Laguna Madre. These two American avocets had their heads tucked under their wings and appeared to be snoozing.
Back at the bottlebrush trees there was lots of activity. The northern parula flitted about for a long time - but I couldn't ever get a good photo of it out in the open.
This was the best of the lot.
Several ruby-throated hummers worked the bottlebrushes as well. This female posed for us for quite a long time.

We took a selfie with the timer on the camera to record this day for posterity.
We think this is a song sparrow.
A hooded warbler finally came close enough for me to get some good shots.

The black and white warbler didn't give me a good profile but this shot is very typical of how they work down a tree - mesquite in this case.
Other species spotted but not photographed were savannah, clay-coloured, and chipping sparrows, a yellow-throated warbler, an ovenbird, a couple of worm-eating warblers, royal terns, a reddish egret, and black-bellied whistling ducks.

It was a great way to end our birding marathon.

Tomorrow we begin our journey home.

Penultimate Day of Birding

Yesterday we went to the Birding and Nature Center for the last time this trip.  It was late in the day and the light wasn't great for taking photos but we wanted to have one last look.

I made Skip take a photo of me looking out to the trees along the edge of this grassy area. There were lots of birds working the area. This concrete and steel structure is the western facade of the South Padre Island Convention Center where there are several different birding habitats - all free to the public.
The calls of the great kiskadee are imprinted on my brain for all time. It is ubiquitous here on the island and many other spots of the RGV.

I can now readily identify the red admiral butterfly.
Out along the boardwalk we spotted this juvenile little blue heron. Its blue beak with a dark tip and greenish legs confirm it.

At the water feature, this little guy flew in. We were able to ID it as a yellow-throated vireo - a life bird for both of us.
We also spotted an eastern phoebe.
Over at the Birding Center I checked on the monarch larvae.
They're still doing great, munching away on this milkweed.
I finally got a good shot of a great southern white butterfly. They and a lot of other birds and insects LOVE the bottlebrush trees.
At the water feature, this lizard was out in the open having a snooze.
Along the boardwalk we again spotted this hybrid duck - mallard/muskovy perhaps?
The baby gators were in their usual spot.
The white ibis gave us a show,
holding its wings up in the air for several seconds before it flew off.
Other birds we spotted were a grey catbird, ruby-throated hummingbird, and the usual array of cormorants, stilts, blue-wing teal, coots, etc. etc.

Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Late Afternoon Birding

At about 4:30pm, Skip and I headed over to the Birding and Nature Center here on the island. We got there in time to go through the entrance and they closed up behind us. A loggerhead shrike flew into the tree right beside us as we were getting out of the car.

The red-eared sliders were still sunning themselves beside the water feature.
On the deck, we encountered Gerry and Rose Ann from Michigan who were just starting a tour of the boardwalk themselves. Rose Ann volunteers at the Birding Center and leads tours.

First she pointed out that these white butterflies were called Great Southern White Butterflies. They LOVE the plants in the butterfly garden and expecially these bottlebrush plants.

Rose Ann took me around to the butterfly garden to show me the monarch butterfly larvae that were on the Texas milkweed.
Woo hoo! These would be the second generation after the ones I released last summer.
I'm going to go back tomorrow and see if they're still there or forming chrysalises yet.
The usual redheads were still there and a couple of roseate spoonbills.
Down at the pond, the spotted sandpiper is finally getting some spots on its chest.
Then a willet flew in. I love getting photos with the reflection.
Again, there were a few scissor-tailed flycatchers. One was seen eating one of the great southern white butterflies.
I can't not take more photos of these guys.
We finally saw the clapper rail. It's been around but we hadn't seen it in a couple of weeks.
The green heron gave us a good show as he sat on the railing of the boardwalk for a while.
At the little pond, we saw three of the newest alligator babies that were born last November. It's the first time we've seen these little guys this year.
A different green heron was on the far side of this little pond, keeping an eye on us.
On the other side of the boardwalk from the little pond was this little guy
and these two. So we saw 6 of the seven remaining baby gators.
Apparently mama will lay 30 to 50 eggs. I think about 30 hatched last November and there are 7 survivors to date of which we saw 6 today. There was no sign of mama today.

At the next bird blind we heard this coot making clicking noises with its beak. Basically it was slamming its beak shut repeatedly - probably as some kind of signal or communication with another nearby coot. I had never really noticed the black spot on its white beak before.
 In the reeds by the big pond, we spotted this egret. This wasn't a great shot but we knew it wasn't a snowy or great egret. Turns out it is an immature little blue heron.
The belted kingfisher was a couple of hundred feet away on another section of the boardwalk railing. The absence of a rust 'belt' below the blue one indicates that this is a male.
The blue tilapia have made several of these 'nests.  The tail has turned red on this one which shows he's ready to fertilize some eggs.
This compact blue-wing teal was paddling around near the end of the boardwalk.
Looking back towards the big pond, the wind was lifting the feathers of this great blue heron.
On the way back to the parking lot, this solitary sandpiper flew in and was feeding in the little pond.
This picture really shows the white eye streak well.

And in shallower water the bright yellow legs are really striking.
It's amazing how fast the time goes when we're strolling around the boardwalk. It's fun birding with other people, too, as there are more pairs of eyes for spotting.

Before we knew it, it was 6:30 - time to go back to the condo for dinner.

I suspect we'll be going out multiple times in the last few days we have left here.