Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Willets at Goose Island Shore

A sunny afternoon awaited us at Fulton. We unpacked and headed to Goose Island State Park. We were in search of Whooping Cranes but on this shore we saw Laughing Gulls and a Willet, a large sandpiper. Willets are possible to see in Western Minnesota (Canada to the Gulf) in breeding season on muddy banks or along the Gulf Coast.  

 Laughing Gulls on Fishing Peer at Goose Island

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Least Bittern at South Padre

Least Bitterns are described as very small (11 - 14 inches) and secretive.  It is a great day if you happen upon one. There were a pair in the open among the reeds on the exit board walk.  Two sisters in their 90s sporting binoculars, spotting scopes and walkers with their adult children were as stunned as we were to watch the Bittern slowly hunt in the open. Margaret Young a daily visitor to the center was amazed also. She carries a small camera and her binoculars and caught the male opening his wings. It is a once in a life-time photo. I only photographed female so the other photos of the male are Gunnar's. When they are standing still with their beaks pointed straight up they are very camouflaged and the males darker back is hidden.

 Female Least Bittern 

The next photos are the more colorful male Least Bittern.

Male (Gunnar's Photos)

Margret Young's photo published on WBCSPI FaceBook posting.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Green Heron at South Padre

This must be my Year of the Green Heron. This is the first year we spotted them in Texas. We saw them at Santa Ana, Estero and South Padre. These last photos show the bird in top breeding coloration and it was also closer in good lighting. The heron is secretive and one does not expect to see one but delighted to. Green Herons are seen throughout most of the US. Minnesota is in their summer breeding grounds. These birds will stay in the Rio Valley.
 I was confused as it moved to the water and focused on his reflection instead of the bird.

After our delicious lunch at the South Padre Brewing Company, 
we saw another Green Heron out in the open reeds.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Falfurrias Rest Stop: Painted Redstart

The Falfurrias rest stop is an oasis of Live Oak Trees that is 1 1/2 hours north of Edinburg on Interstate 83. It is the perfect place to get out and look for birds.  The male Painted Redstart has been in the wooded park for 3 winters and probably will die there without a mate.  How sad.  This year on our way north we stopped and found him.  We have told many other birders about it so we hope had the same luck. It was a first for us as was the Yellow-throated Warbler. We were elated to see them. What a way to start a road trip! 

Yellow-throated Warber 

Hackberry Emperor in a Live Oak Tree


South Padre: Alligators, A Curlew and A Sora

What do they have in common?  They are regulars at at the World Birding Center of South Padre Island and greeted us near the center.  It was a sunny morning and the alligators were sunning themselves with silly smiles on their faces. We spotted two of the babies alligators later from the boardwalk. The Long-billed Curlew was hunting. 


The Baby Alligator
Long-billed Curlew
Mottled Ducks

Sora (Rail) posing for a shot or resting in the sun.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Great Blue Herons and Little Blue Herons

         The Great Blue Herons and the Little Blue Herons in South Padre 
are in breeding trim and looking wonderful


The Little Blue Heron was on the hunt not showing off his new feathers.

Clapper Rail at South Padre

We had an amazing last visit to The World Birding Center at South Padre on March 23rd. There were few ducks, fewer herons but the rails were out. This is a Clapper Rail which is usually a very secretive bird as is most rails. We are not sure if there was two or three Clappers, but we saw the Clappers two different times. Other birders said they saw three which is very delightful. We also saw Green Herons, a Least Bittern and Blue Heron up close.