Date: 6/27/18 7:08 am From: Joseph Kennedy <josephkennedy36...> Subject: [texbirds] East beach to Anahuac yesterday, arriving migrants and baby birds
Started the day at sunrise at Galveston's east beach. Horned larks were up singing about having another brood. A locally banded snowy plover was out by the jetty with a fully feathered chick from this year. A couple of feathered Wilson's plover chicks further down the ship channel.
Tides during the previous week had been high and combined with the heavy rain over many days ended the nesting of the small number of least terns nesting. One fledged least tern flew by.
Two crested caracara chicks were out with the Wilson's plovers but it would be more accurate to say that the plovers were harassing the caracaras.
Two pairs of Caspian terns had brought their chicks down behind the barricade.
The summering semipalmated plover flock totaled 26 birds and there were a few sanderling.
One good way of censusing willets in an area is to have a caracara fly over. This showed that most of the east beach, bob road and yacht basin road eastern willets were not on territory. I did not find large numbers assembled but did not go out the bolivar jetty. They will leave soon and last year most were gone by July 15th and almost all by the following week.
The annual coconut migration has started. The first sightings were likely from Mexico as the nuts only had a few small barnacles. Later migrants will be heavily encrusted with large barnacles.
The Frenchtown road pond and the tidal ponds by Fort Travis were full. Most areas that depend on rain were still dry but some were damp and held no shorebirds.
The drive out Retillon Road was very interesting for its singing birds. They included 1 gray catbird, 2 black rails, at least 3 horned larks and 2 gull-billed terns. Not the usual mix of species at any season.
Drove the beaches east and west from Retillon and only had a couple of summering western willets and 4 sanderling. A tent was located where the terns like to gather.
One black tern made was the first in a couple of weeks. Migrants will be arriving soon and many fly/feed in the daytime. Most continue offshore to feed in large flocks but some return to the coast to roost at night. There will be a steady stream of birds going by Anahuac and along 1985.
Baby tern chicks were on the beach in numbers. Most were sandwich terns with a relatively small number of royal terns. Usually, royal chicks are first as the royals leave the beaches for the nesting islands a good bit before the sandwich terns. Some local least tern chicks have fledged and are feeding themselves but still take food.
Watched one chick getting fed. However it did not want to be fed. Parent one came in with a fish and the chick moved off about 10 yards. Parent followed and the chick ran further. Other parent arrived with a fish and the chick ran from both. I left with the 3 birds about 10 yards apart and the parents still holding their fish.
The high tides had taken out a good deal of the tern barricade and it was being replaced. Quite a few nests of least terns had been outside the barrier. Most of the piles of hyacinth roots from Harvey were finally sent elsewhere except for one small area where some had been moved to.
Good mix of shorebirds. 2 red knots and 2 short-billed dowitchers. Western sandpipers. Heard the white-rump when a caracara caused a panic. Had a total of 65 semipalmated plovers but that probably included the east beach birds that fly across when the beach goers arrive on Galveston.
Only arriving shorebirds were a dozen marbled godwits with their orange bills and still suffering from nesting territoriality. Also a few western willets.
Not much seen going east to high island. The largest number of birds for the day was at 1985 and Pear Orchard Road where the crawfish farm was in the final stages of draining. Maybe a thousand herons and ibis and a couple of thousand laughing gulls. A good part was dry but the area just back of the 1985 levee still had water with most at the southeast corner where it is hard to stop and limited visibility due to vegetation. How did the laughing gulls know to come here instead of the bay/beaches for food.
Anahuac was very hot and still dryish although water levels in shoveler pond were up a some. Rookery going great. Gadwall getting rattier but will molt soon into its eclipse plumage. All the landbirds were keeping out of the sun as were most of the waterbirds. Lotus is blooming good but filling in much of the open water areas.
One really needs to check areas like Anahuac or Tyrell marsh as a masked duck just flew over them over the weekend to arrive in Louisiana yesterday. Water level changes in Louisiana could also move the limpkins here to any areas that have apple snails.
-- Joseph C. Kennedy on Buffalo Bayou in West Houston <Josephkennedy36...>