16 April 2010

Shorebird Showdown...(Bolivar Peninsula, Texas): 16 April

Our noon "shorebird showdown" was a spectacular feast of shorebirds as ever. Little was evident at HAS Bolivar Flats save for a small batch of American Avocets floating in the surf, and a lone Piping Plover scurrying around a beach pool. As a result we headed to Frenchtown Road, where shorebirds were loaded in a small pool by the roadside. Peeps were relatively few, but the ones that were there were in our faces, feeding on the very near edge and comprised of mainly Leasts, with quite a few Semipalmated Sandpipers (bottom photo), and just a single Western Sandpiper. The reeds at the back of the marsh held a Sora, and a much larger Clapper Rail or two also patrolled the edge. Short-billed Dowtichers outnumbered all else with hundreds present on the pool (middle photo), along with several Whimbrel, and a pair of Stilt Sandpipers.

Our third stop on this tour of the coastal hotspots on the peninsula was at Rollover Pass, that has been THE hotspot of the spring so far with a multitude of terns, shorebirds and others present everytime. Today was no different: A single Wilson's Plover competed with a pair of Snowy Plovers (top photo) to see who could give us the best view; the mass of terns held 2 Black Terns in non-breeding plumage hid in amongst the melee. A Long-billed Curlew flew lazily in and alighted on a sand bar for a short time, and the pack of Black Skimmers (numbering in the hundreds), and terns, Marbled Godwits and others allowed us to roll the car right up and snap away. Magical scene.

Our final shorebird stop was in the oilfields on the edge of High Island, where the red-letter bird was a non-breeding plumage Red Knot (in contrast to the rusty bird of a few days, back decidedly dowdy), in addition to at least 8 Stilt Sandpipers amongst a horde of other waders.

I then headed back to the High Island woods to see what had swept in from Mexico...

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