Date: 7/11/18 5:37 pm From: Joseph Kennedy <josephkennedy36...> Subject: [texbirds] Galveston to Anahuac today, more and more baby birds and returning migrants
Started the day just after sunrise at east beach on Galveston. Really great habitat for shorebirds and the like but most of the area was like an uber-predator had flown along the water.
Much of the time, it was close to a dead calm. Later, the wind even blew from the north, northwest and west. At rollover the tide was blowing out on an incoming tide. Another day with lots of sand and puddles for birds. A good bit of sargassum on bolivar but it appeared to have been somewhere else first. Almost none on bolivar flats but a good bit further east where they had not cleaned the beaches.
A small flock of terns and gulls was in the parking lot with royal terns and youngsters predominating. One sandwich and nine Caspian tern chick/parents sets. All Caspian terns seem to only have one parent one chick.
Horned larks were up singing but the least tern seem to have abandoned the nesting effort after the heavy rain. Wilson's plovers had also stopped scolding. Did have 7 Wilson's and 2 fledged birds. 5 snowy plovers were around including 2 fledged chicks. 7 piping plovers were back from up north including 1 with a band. 2 long-billed curlew were new since the spring.
Lots of barn swallows are starting to flock and move around.
The ferry ride had 3 laughing gulls on the boat with one young of the year laughing gull trying to land. One frigatebird went over.
The Frenchtown road pond and others in Port Isabel were filled to the brim and without birds. Fort Travis had one damp spot and 16 marbled godwits already in heavy molt. Feathers sticking out all over as new feathers push out old ones.
Driving out Retillon road there were lots of willets resting out on the wet flats. Most seemed to be westerns but some were sleeping with the bill hidden. Westerns were the common bird along the beach both east and west of Retillon and a large number were sleeping way down the flats. Maybe 160 westerns total.
9 long-billed curlews on the beach and edge make up a good part of the winter contingent. Some were quite tame and probably returnees but others were very wary.
8 piping plovers were way down the flats along with 15 Wilson's plovers (6 young of the year). One red knot is still lingering. A few new arrivals included western sandpipers and short-billed dowitchers in breeding plumage.
The birds of the day were royal and Caspian terns with youngsters. Very noisy down on the large open sand area. The Caspian chicks will still be begging loudly after the new year.
Last time I was hear more than 80% of the terns were sandwich with many chicks. Today well more than 90% were royal terns with lots of squealing chicks. Most of the royal terns were bringing fish into the chicks from well to the east of the flats leading to lots of chases and other fun.
The least terns have abandoned their nesting efforts and no one cared where I walked or dove at my head. A few fledged chicks were flying. A few adults seemed to be pairing again and doing the fish bit. I did get a picture of a newly fledged chick in October a couple of years ago so they may try but almost all were elsewhere.
Going east up the peninsula found a few more tern groups and added a group of non-breeding common and least terns. The same group had just fledged and fledged a bit ago forster's terns as well as young royal, sandwich and Caspian. And another young of the year Wilson's plover with its Mohawk feathercut.
The ditches along part of Retillon had lots of water but almost no birds. Shoveler pond had been all filled up and most birds at 1pm were dispersed or hiding from the sun. They were doing work inside the pond near where the ducks had been lingering and they were elsewhere. Cattle egrets and tricolored herons are still nesting away and some cattle egrets seem to want to get started, at least they were gathering sticks.
Almost no land birds around early or late other than grackles. Did have a no-tailed grackle but it appeared to have been bitten off but not molted. But the water birds made for a good day.
-- Joseph C. Kennedy on Buffalo Bayou in West Houston <Josephkennedy36...>