My Montana

My Montana
My Montana

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Migration- A Lost Art?

October 13, 2015

After visiting my friends in Corpus Christi, Winnie and I drove to Port Aransas, a marvelous coastal birding town. It has several places that are the Central Texas Coast Birding Trail, Mustang Island Loop,  and which, during winter and especially spring, are fantastic places to find both migrating and local birds.

We expected to find shore birds plus various passerines migrating, but only saw a few possible migrants, mixed in with even fewer local birds.  The only warbler's we saw were common yellowthroat, which also breed in the area. We did see Lincoln's sparrows, Savannah sparrows, and a couple of Lark sparrows. We also found on early shrike. The shorebirds consisted mostly of greater and lesser yellowlegs, black-necked stilts, and a few least sandpipers, as well as a couple of dunlin. We birded at Charlie's Pasture, known on the Great Texas Birding Trails as Port Aransas Wetland Park, at the wastewater plant, now called the Leonabelle Turnbull Birding Center. and Paradise Pond - currently looking very damaged, both by the removal of the Brazilian Pepper Bush and by the destruction of the habitat behind it - it has been stripped to turn into housing. But we did see the headline of a newspaper article that said $15,000 was going into replanting Paradise Pond.

So I'm wondering if I'm just too anxious, or if the more or more of our birds are staying north longer or shortening their migration and spending winters further north.  eBird is collecting our data and letting us figure this out from the number, so be sure to turn in your sightings to them. What is missing from your lists is as important as what is on them.

These pictures are from the Leonabelle Turnbull Birding Center, which has water, marsh, and a small area that attracts passerines in migration.

Even great-tailed grackles are interesting for the first few birds seen after a six month's hiatus 

Young pied-billed grebes were catching fish

As were the pelicans - who were newly arrived migrants

Black-bellied whistling ducks were flying or loafing in large groups

A young snowy egret looked in vain for a snack to come by
 The next pictures were taken at Charlie's pasture. It is a tidal wetland and, depending on the date, and time of day, will have more or less water in it. It is particularly good for waders, ducks,  and raptors, but does also attract passerines in migration. We saw Lincoln's, savannah and lark sparrows here. We caught a glimpse of a vireo - probably blue-headed - as well.

The clouds were making lovely reflections in the shallow water

Lots of pelicans - many of them juveniles - were flying in groups down the intercoastal canal

The birds of the day were lesser yellowlegs but there were lots of greater yellowlegs present

We mostly saw black-necked stilts in singles or pairs

Least sandpipers and, I think, Dunlin

Dunlin, I think

Immature reddish egret chasing its dinner

Algae mats - the base of the food web here,  washed off the bottoms and then wrinkled by the tide

White pelicans and other birds

View towards the beginning of the boardwalk at Charlie's Pasture

Tricolored heron 

The following pictures were taken at Paradise Pond. This is usually a great place to find passerines in migration. The only birds whose pictures I didn't take were red-winged blackbirds, grackles and three female/immature blue-winged teal.

Juvenile yellow-crowned heron

Feeding tricolored heron

White ibis

Green heron in a willow tree

Paradise Pond is just behind the San Juan, a very good Mexican restaurant.  Winnie and I finished up a great morning with lunch there before I got in line to wait for the ferry to take me across the Intercoastal Canal. I spent the afternoon driving to Galveston.

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