Date: 4/13/17 2:18 pm
From: Joseph Kennedy <josephkennedy36...>
Subject: [texbirds] Bolivar ferry to Anahuac yesterday, oldsquaw, black rails and shorebirds
The forecast heading out was for a partly sunny day but sprinkles hit on
the way to the ferry and on the sunrise ferry ride. Poking around port
bolivar and looking back at Galveston, there was a brisk rain and looking
at the radar all day, orange and red was moving inland about half way down
the island but there was no more on the east side of Galveston roads.
A very large flock of both pelicans and gulls was feeding about 500 yards
off the end of the ferry jetty in a rip current and was attracting many
birds from both directions but too far and wet to make out goodies from the
parking lot.

After the rain on Tuesday, I was surprised to find no migrants at the
little corners of port bolivar that have trees and mulberries. Nor any
shorebirds as it was very dry still.

Stopped at Fort Travis for grasspipers and found much of the grass brown
from lack of water but there was one damp spot of about 2 or 3 square feet.

Headed out to bolivar flats on Retillon and had 3 black rails calling
again. Last week one was close to the road and the other two were at war a
long way out. Yesterday, the close bird was further off and the other two
were spread out and all claiming territory.

The tide was a lot higher than a week ago and even though it was high on my
arrival, the strong eastish wind kept it coming in during my stay which
lasted until about 10:30.

A big change in shorebird numbers. Western willets were way up and much
further along in molt as were dunlin. Small plover numbers were way down
from 200 to 90 to maybe 20 yesterday. Only one Wilson's plover but I did
not walk the vegetation line and I saw no snowy plover.

5 red knots were great with a group of 3 red birds and a group of 2 with
one just a little red and the other still gray. Many black-bellied plovers,
least sandpipers and westerns. My general impression was of a lack of
variety. A good number of avocets were swimming and feeding out past the

All day from port bolivar to Anahuac and the rice fields flocks of greater
and lesser yellowlegs went by with most keeping going and not stopping at

The oldsquaw showed up sitting with a couple of lesser scaup out on a
really wet section of mud that was being covered by the tide so he moved a
couple of times and once flew down to the edge a channel where there were a
couple more scaup. Did not see the scaup flock that has been offshore. No
falcons seen but something scary came down the beach and flushed most of
the birds east of us and then the skimmers etc west of us. Did not see
anything or hear a whoosh.

there has been a good influx of common terns and one flock of all
non-breeding birds was on the flats with more spread along the beaches
further east. A lot of the forster's terns have moved on.

Shrimp are just offshore and being fed on by both the royal and sandwich
terns judging by the number of birds with antenna dangling from the beaks.
Coincidentally, royal tern beaks are getting redder on many birds.

Found another one of my returning whimbrels friends that is on the same
driveway and parking area as last year and feeds on cabbage butterflies
just like then.

Headed to high island and apparently there were some birds there early but
by mid day, the numbers were scarce and hard to find but there was a
swainson's warbler which is often hard to get.

Lots of rice going on along 1985. East of Pear Orchard road, most of the
fields have not been flooded and there was not enough rain to really make
them damp. But going west, things were good.

The great big field of fame a few years ago had birds. Shorebirds near the
highway and golden plover to the north where the water had already drained.
The wet stuff extends most of the way to the bayou just east of the main
Anahuac entrance. Birds mixed differently in different patches: one had
whimbrels and another dowitchers etc. and migrating yellowlegs.

Tried the willows and woodlot at Anahuac for landbirds and heard a mystery
buzz. But saw no birds and did not find the territorial broad-winged hawks
heading up to I-10. But a great day.

Joseph C. Kennedy
on Buffalo Bayou in West Houston

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