Sunrise over Lower Red Rock Lake

Sunrise over Lower Red Rock Lake
Sunrise over Lower Red Rock Lake

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Super Migration Fallout

Yesterday and today, the Texas Ornithological List is full of stories of birds, hundreds to thousands of them at every place one looks all up and down the Texas coast.

Natalie dragged me off to Lafitte Cove, a wooded hot spot in Galveston last evening. The skies were dark and a thunderstorm was still within hearing, but off the coast. But we were spellbound by the birds. Hundreds of indigo buntings, scores of painted buntings, lots of blue and red-breasted grosbeaks.  In one 4 X 4 foot patch, we saw two oven birds, two brown thrashers,  a Swainson's thrush and a wood thrush.And we saw several species of warblers, including long looks at yellow warblers, and a Blackburnian that was hanging out with a flock of dickcissel. And did I mention the Baltimore orioles?  There were hundreds of them and scores of orchard orioles.

One of scores of ovenbirds we saw at every location

But wait....... there's more. There were many summer tanagers and even more scarlet tanagers. And we got a good look at a sora and enjoyed the leftover ducks - blue-winged teal, mottled ducks, black-bellied whistling ducks, and some red-heads. Black-necked stilts also fed and squabbled.

Summer tanager
We had to go back out this morning. We drove over to the Texas A&M Wetlands and again found hundreds of indigo buntings and  at least one painted bunting. There were hundreds of orioles, a Nashville warbler, a Swainson's warbler, lots of summer and scarlet tanagers, and also some interesting local birds, including black-necked stilts, lesser yellowlegs in summer plumage, another sora, roseate spoonbills, and brown pelicans as well as lots of laughing gulls. I saw a little peewee and told Natalie, "I wish it was closer."  Immediately he flew towards me and landed about 5 feet in front of me at eye level.  I didn't have my camera because the light was so dim. But he definitely looked more like a Western peewee- much darker and with no eye ring. But without a picture, I couldn't call the species.

One of at least one hundred rose-breasted grosbeaks
We came home in time for Natalie to go to an appointment. There we found her yard full of Baltimore orioles.  I put out  oranges, then added grape jelly. Soon we had up to a dozen orioles, which remained until dark. I took a few pictures through the storm shutters and screens.  We were tired of watching all the action.  Soon we had rose-breasted grosbeaks, a pine warbler who darted in to steal some orange, some catbirds, and then a pair of orchid orioles. A summer tanager also showed up and checked out the grape jelly. This evening Natalie spied a Tennessee warbler.

Baltimore orioles on back taken through storm shutters and screen. This was a fighting pose, just before on of them jumped the other.
After lunch, we decided we needed to keep looking at this amazing sight, so went back to Lafitte's cove. This time I took my camera. We found the Blackburnian warbler still in the same empty lot as he was yesterday. Oven birds were everywhere. The numbers of indigo buntings were way down and I only saw one painted bunting and my camera didn't focus correctly on him. But there were still enough birds to wow the birders. One of the birds I missed was the golden-winged warbler, which would have been a life bird for me. I also got a good look yesterday at a Philadelphia vireo but didn't get his picture this afternoon.There were also lots of tanagers around, although not in as many numbers as yesterday.

Blackburnian warbler feeding on the little forbs, just above ground level

This Acadian flycatcher was new at Lafitte's Cove today

Swainson's Thrush at a water drip
Scarlet tanager - sometimes we saw several at once

Rose-breasted grosbeak eating a mulberry
Northern waterthrush
Black-throated green warbler
After a few hours, we went to Corp Woods so I could show Natalie it's location.  There we found most of the same birds in good numbers,  as well as a couple of new ones. The main new one was a Magnolia warbler. There were a few of them there.  But the place was covered in catbirds.  As we were leaving, we were seeing up to twenty birds in the path ahead of us.  There were hooded warblers, I think a Kentucky warbler, about twelve catbirds, several ovenbirds, a few thrushes, and a very tame female scarlet tanager, all feeding on or along the trail. It was very hard to get ourselves back home so I could get supper ready in time for Natalie to leave for her dog agility class.

Hooded warbler that fed along the path at Corp Woods

Magnolia Warbler

One of hundreds of catbirds in town
 We arrived home to find the  feeding frenzy  still going on in the back yard. We replenished the oranges and grape jelly and put out more seeds on a low table. We enjoyed the yard birds until dark.