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 surf.
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 habitat.
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 <Josephkennedy36...>