Date: 4/20/17 4:59 pm From: Joseph Kennedy <josephkennedy36...> Subject: [texbirds] Bolivar to 1985 etc today, shorebirds and a little more and 6 savannah sparrows
took the early ferry across to bolivar. Missed sunrise but sunrise was earlier. Lots of birds out on the bay compared to most of last fall and winter. Great numbers of pelicans on the bolivar side just scooping up fish at the end of the jetty and bulkhead and between. Wandered some in port bolivar without many birds but did see my friendly whimbrels.
Stopped at the fort and it had greened up from last week but not a sign of a puddle and only 4 black-bellied plovers and 1 whimbrels.
Dickcissels are in and singing on territory and both male white-tailed kites were protecting their territories. Stopped at the black rail spot but they did not call coming or going. 3 pairs of horned larks, 2 on the beach and on on Retillon were acting springy with all the males up skylarking.
Lots of sargassum on the beach and going east from Retillon and all up through crystal beach made a big cleanup necessary. They really have a neat new cleaner that takes much less sand than the old system. But going down to the bollards the sargassum patches were full of sanderlings, western willets, turnstones etc.
My piping plover count over the last 4 weeks has gone from 200 to 90 to 15 and then 1 today.
about half way down where walking was great for a year, the tides or whatever had brought in a coat of clay mud ranging from 4 to 6 inches deep that one sinks down in and it does not want to let go. It has filled in the old channels so it is much deeper there. The shorebirds really liked it. A single Wilson's phalarope male flew past from the area and a few white-rumped sandpipers, still mostly in winter plumage were in it. And lesser yellowlegs so the mud brought in what would be inland birds most of the time.
Somebody had fallen earlier and left a nice impression including binoculars that went a couple inches into the goo. It was hard to get my feet out and I had to be careful.
Lots of semipalmated sandpipers in mixed with fewer westerns. And lots more least sandpipers than usual. Common plover was black-bellied, some in full summer regalia.
The rattier of the oldsquaws was way down there on the dry sand inside the main debris wrack. Very tame and let birders walk by without moving. It appears to be well fed as it decorated the sand several times. Others saw the other bird flying east out past the waves on their way down to the area. The two neat gulls were absent but a nice lesser black-backed adult gull was really way down there. And the fake great black-backed from a week ago was still present. All of the other ducks were the continuing lesser scaup. And a few white pelican but the ones at the ferry landing were not there for the first time since last fall.
Driving out Retillon, a male northern harrier was sky dancing over the old nesting sight which raised hopes of a nest this year but just after I was out on the highway he passed me like he wanted to be in Missouri tonight.
Off toward the cut east of Retillon, there was a pink-bellied laughing gull and a tame reddish egret doing its dance accompanied by a snowy egret and tricolored heron, also dancing. All caught lots of fish but tiny ones.
Bob road had both seaside and sharp-tailed sparrows, soras, and lots of noisy eastern willets.
The end of yacht basin road had a frigatebird and swainson's hawk. Little at rollover and the side roads east of there were just being mowed.
High island had the usual birds that I have found this season including a calling catbird.
The cliff swallow colony under the hiway 124 bridge is the biggest I have seen it but could not find any cave swallows. I think it is too sunny in the afternoon for them. Did not find any at either of the colonies from last summer on 1985.
Spent a good bit of time working rice fields along 1985, Fairview, pear orchard and other roads for shorebirds and grasspipers. Lots of rice fields dry and diked but never watered. The wet fields further west had no current water but just sprouting rice. The crawfish ranch had whimbrels and wading birds.
Stopped where I had a killdeer a couple weeks ago that turned out to have eggs in the pictures. The area was mowed last week and today I found it a block up the way. However, a red-bellied woodpecker had apparently gotten the killdeer to leave the nest and was eating one of the eggs. I have read about woodpeckers eating eggs but not seen but did see the pileated woodpecker enlarge my red-bellies hole when they had young for the pileated to use but they enlarge too much and the branch broke off.
There were a few birds on the board at High Island but not what should be there at the peak of the season. But some good ones.
-- Joseph C. Kennedy on Buffalo Bayou in West Houston <Josephkennedy36...>