Monday, 6 February 2017

February 6 Birding on SPI

Skip and I have recovered enough from our 5 day drive to South Padre Island (SPI) that today we ventured out to the World Birding Centre here on the island.

It was a comfortable 24C with a nice breeze and sunny, even though all the weather apps predicted 'mostly cloudy' skies. Not many clouds over the island, that's for sure.

I got excited when I saw orange butterflies all over the butterfly garden. I quickly realized they were not monarchs (it's too early for them) but queen butterflies.
The first bird we saw from the boardwalk was a white ibis.
A snowy egret (black bill and yellow feet) was wading.
Nearby was this gator.
A great egret (larger with yellow bill and black legs) didn't linger on the shore as the gator looked on.
Along the boardwalk we saw a green heron. It was staring into the water but there weren't any fish nearby.
Mr and Mrs Wigeon paddled about.
A Northern pintail snoozed on the edge of the waterway.
All species of ducks seem to co-exist harmoniously.
Mottled Ducks
Out on the Laguna Madre were dozens of redheads. Skip also spotted a marbled godwit.
From the boardwalk, I was able to get very close to this spotted sandpiper that was working the shoreline
Looking straight out, there were lots of wigeons near the part of the boardwalk that juts out into the Laguna Madre.  It was low tide.
Out beyond that covered bird blind, were 10 black-necked stilts standing in the shallow water. I counted 4 males (with the black backs) and 6 females (brownish backs).
Just north of the walkway was this tricolor heron doing his 'hooding' maneuver to catch something to eat.
I got a trifecta in this shot: a preening reddish egret, a great egret and a resting snowy egret.

A project is underway to tear out the excessive cattail rushes. Within a couple of months, grasses will have grown back. Here, Skip is taking some of his own photos.
After exiting the area, there is a walkway back to the parking lot. I saw this Couch's/tropical kingbird fly down from a hydro wire.
Back in the parking lot I got a shot of this common buckeye butterfly that is missing a large chunk from its right wing.
Butterflies are hard to photograph with a point-and-shoot camera. This was the best I could do capturing another queen butterfly
Tropical milkweed is also cultivated in part of the butterfly garden.
Last March I saw several monarch larvae munching on plants in this area.

Looking out on the flats, I saw this long-billed curlew fly in and was able to get a fairly decent shot even though I was a couple of hundred metres away. It sure helps to have a 30x zoom on my little  Lumix camera.

 Back inside the birding centre, the whiteboard displayed the birds spotted in the last few days. We really had nothing to add. In addition to ones that I photographed, we did see coots, brown pelicans, moorhens (common gallinules), great-tail grackles, little blue heron, red-wing backbirds (male and female), rock pigeons, royal tern, and a Northern harrier. Not bad for 1.5h of birding.
On the way back to the car, this immature white ibis flew to the water feature beside the parking lot.
We now have season passes so will be able to visit many more times.


  1. Wow ! Great pics of unusual birds. And amazingly a mention of "Grackles" - a bird my husband happened to mention on Sunday. Do you keep a lifetime list, I wonder?

    1. Yes, my life list is on my iPhone app - Peterson Birds of North America. 262 out of a possible 820