My Montana

My Montana
My Montana

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Bountiful Birds in Port Aransas

I'm still on my birding trip across several ecosystems in Texas.  Monday I recuperated from the King Ranch tour and got a meal cooked and frozen so I can just reheat it this weekend to serve to my cooking group.

But the birds in Port Aransas were calling to me.  Port Aransas is on Mustang Island, a barrier island and the first land some birds see after they leave south or central America. ACape May warbler has been at the Leonabell Turnbull Birding Center for a few days and it is always good for passerines in migration, as well as ducks and waders.  I left Winnie's house an hour before sunrise  Tuesday morning and headed there first. I saw lots of quick-moving little birds, including several Tennessee warblers, a common yellowthroat, a blackburnian warbler and a Baltimore oriole, none of which would sit still long enough for me to get a good picture of them. But several other birds did pose.

Swainson's Thrush, I think

A tricolored heron hunted next to the boardwalk

And on the way in, I found my first of season Wilson's phalaropes and was surprised to see a crested caracara eating what looked like a laughing gull.

Crested caracara with breakfast
I moved on to Paradise Pond, a tiny little bird oasis in back of a pretty good Mexican Restaurant.  It had almost no birds but did have a male cerulean warbler, a life bird for me.  I watched as the cerulean, a painted bunting, and a gray catbird all arrived at almost the same time but in slightly different places in front of me. Only the catbird sat still long enough for a portrait.  I also saw a northern parula there.  A green heron posed closed to us, too.

Green Heron

Then I spent a few hours at Charlie's Pasture, a great place for shorebirds, waders, ducks, and raptors. I saw so many birds of so many species, I completely lost my ability to ID them and had to relearn them.  I was happy to see lark sparrows and enjoyed the antics of two red and two white morphs of reddish egrets. Phalaropes were spinning everywhere and a few females were getting into their party dresses. (The males sit on the eggs and raise the kids while the females go find another boyfriend so they are the beautiful sex.) And I saw a few of my favorite birds, avocets, in full breeding plumage.

I think this barnswallow is carrying mud to build a nest

A pelican flew right at me 

This bug was too photogenic to pass up

Wilson's phalarope and reddish egret

A female Wilson's phalarope with her entourage 

I'm so pretty, oh so pretty!

Semipalmated plover

Least sandpiper
Feeding avocet in breeding plumage

White-phase reddish egret on a bad hair day with roseate spoonbills

Horned Lark

Reddish egret doing its crazy chase and mantling

Stilt Sandpiper

Indigo Bunting

I birded until noon, then came back and deleted most of my pictures and helped my host, Wayne, (very little)  put my new racks on my car so I could borrow back my little whitewater kayak that I use every time I get to paddle on  South Llano River.  The rest of the evening, I edited pictures, wrote this blog, and shopped for vegetables for stir fry and cut them up so they will be ready to dump in the pot Wednesday night when I'll be camping with friends at South Llano State Park for a long weekend.  I also put the dry rub on the pork roast that will turn into pulled pork.

We'll be paddling, birding, biking, hiking and just hanging out. I'm hoping for a golden-cheeked warbler as well as lots of photogenic birds since there are four bird blinds there, as well as lots of birdy territory. The time I was birding was mostly sunny, but five minutes after I started home, I was in a rain shower. Now we have heavy clouds and wandering showers again.

Car ready to haul my kayak
Tuesday night I finished food preparations and now have the most delicious hands since the pork roast rub is under my fingernails - love that smoked paprika smell.

Wednesday, I'll head out early to save campsites close together for the early arrivals at South Llano State Park and will be birding if the weather allows. We still having some rain, although it's happening less often and with less total rainfall. And I'm looking forward to hammock time.

I've linked to Wild Bird Wednesday