10 April 2012

Early Spring...TEXAS (9 April)

Little did we know when we awoke to a hot humid day and southerly winds, what a great day fro warblers this would be. I mean after all at this time of the month, High Island is meant to relatively quite with low diversity...or so they say.

I awoke to a Northern Parula and Tennessee Warbler brightening up our backyard on 5th Street (the parula anyway!), and shortly after a male Rose-breasted Grosbeak planting itself to a mulberry tree openen our Houston Audubon walks across in Boy Scout Woods. By the end of the morning some warblers had pleased: Yellow-throated and Black Throated Green Warblers for one, and a mass of Indigo Buntings had clearlt dropped in overnight. However, Texas's own "rainbow bird" Painted Bunting somehow managed to elude me all day long, and I eagerly await my first of season-today perhaps?

However, I am not complaining as it was the best day of the spring so far with warbler numbers rising to 23 species by the close of business. After an afternoon walk along the shore at HAS Bolivar Flats where I got my season first Snowy Plover with a huddle of portly Piping Plovers, and watched a sorry-looking Red Knot limping along the beach with a couple of healtheir looks birding in tow, I returned to the woods and took on the late afternoon Houston Ausubon walks around HAS Smith Oaks. We needed to work hard for our birds but Yellow-throated Warbler came, and it was very clear that literally masses of Tennessee Warblers had dropped in for the afternoon: barely a moment went by when a Tennessee was NOT in view. A Prothonotary Warbler was more selective showing just once.

Just as we were finishing our walk a male Cerulean Warbler and the quitessential Halloween bird, American Redstart turned up and closed out the walk in dramatic fashion. Luke Seitz and I then enjoyed shooting the Roseate Spoonbills and Great Egrets in the soft evening light over Claybottom Pond before returning, almost inevitably to the Boy Scout Woods drip, which was pumping with colorful activity...

The day closed with my Leica binoculars rooted to my face, and elbows tired from the constant action unfolding before our eyes. A Swainson's Warbler dropped into the drip, causing more than a little excitement as he also had Kentucky Warbler, Louisiana Warterthrush, and Blue-winged Warbler for company at the time. When migrants rush the drp like this there is no time for rest or comprehension of the insane scenes that unfold. Some of those birds left and then were merely replaced by Worm-eating and Prothonotary Warblers, and then later a black-and-scarlet American Redstart. The warbler regularly adorned the edges of the pool like Christmas lights that clashed badly with another due to their vastly different color schemes. This was one color clash that would have been supported by all present, fashionistas or not!

More to come from the migration Mecca soon..

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