Date: 1/30/18 4:29 pm From: Joseph Kennedy <josephkennedy36...> Subject: [texbirds] Anahuac to Texas city today. Beware of the ferry grackles
The highlight of the trip was the attack on me and my sandwich by very hungry grackles. Apparently they are not getting fed due to cold etc. No gulls joined in. Got out of the car with my sandwich and one dove and grabbed a piece. Tried by the rail and had 4 birds on my arms and hands at once. protected the sandwich and retreated to the car. Again, the gulls were hanging out at the bolivar landing eating things stirred up by the boats in the landing. Far fewer terns than last week. Started at Anahuac just after sunrise. For those going from the west, the sun rises directly over the center strip of 1985 for the first few miles so get there earlier or later.
Shoveler pond had lots of ducks and combined with the oyster bayou tract provided a good list. Not much else seen as land birds that made it through the freeze as well as the vegetation mostly were absent. Nothing unusual, but lots more northern harriers were trap-lining but I only saw one stoop but came right up without anything. A couple of crested caracara, white-tailed hawk and red-tailed hawks. The several cooper's hawks that had been feeding on small birds were gone with the small birds. A merlin was on 1985. Lots of white and dark ibis roosting in the shoveler pond nesting area.
Had no large or even small flock of blackbirds or cowbirds on the refuge or 1985. Had less than 25 geese in total for the day with a count of 10 in one group the biggest.
A few more savannah sparrows were along road edges in the newly sprouted grass.
Almost no birds driving along the coast and nothing at rollover with the sand going way out. Nothing on Bob or Yacht Basin Road either.
The tide was way out at Bolivar Flats and I walked within say 20 yards of the jetty and could have reached it if I wanted to do mud. Saw no small plovers. Flock of many thousands of American avocets way out on a sandbar or swimming in the surf as they fed. Lots of coming and going. Hard to pick out anything else in mob. Sanderlings were the common shorebird but there were a few least sandpipers, turnstones and dunlin. A dark backed gull was too far out to id.
Tried Kempner park for any warblers etc but had none again. Did not hear the couch's kingbird that was calling off to the west last week.
Thought that the lack of birds would mean that they all moved up to the texas city dike. But that was not the case as the number of species and individuals was way down from a week ago. No skimmers and only 4 royal terns and 1 forster's tern.
Did have a large odd seagull way out near the end of the dike. A quick look said maybe a light colored California gull youngster. Had a problem with the camera and binoculars all tangled and when I looked again, it was gone never to be seen again. But it is worth looking for. Did have 6 common loons and perhaps 8 brown pelicans and 2 white pelicans.
Going to have to have different weather to get more birds here. Not sure where the geese and blackbirds went.
-- Joseph C. Kennedy on Buffalo Bayou in West Houston <Josephkennedy36...>