Date: 7/10/20 11:43 am
From: Joseph Kennedy <josephkennedy36...>
Subject: [texbirds] Coast Thursday, black rails, black terns, baby birds and shorebirds coming and going
Did my weekly loop around the coast yesterday and had a good day. Started
on east beach on Galveston with the young crested caracara working over the
tern flock for breakfast but it had to scavenge a well plucked and eaten
laughing gull and then found a partly eaten hardhead in some sargassum.

There actually was a good bit of sargassum on parts of the beaches which
was greatly enjoyed by the birds. It had come in earlier and so was picked
over but still had food for the shorebirds.

Not many shorebirds on East Beach. A single snowy plover and 3 wilson's
plovers were joined by newly arrived semipalmated plovers and western
willets. The local eastern willets and the american avocet flock have
departed. One piping plover and a single rough-winged swallow among the
barn swallows.

Eastern willets were gone from a number of sites but still at others. My
past summers have shown that local groups all migrate at the same time but
others wait a few days. They also arrive back as a group in March. Most
will be gone within a week or so except for late nesters, or re-nesters
that have youngsters. The youngsters go with the adults in most cases.

Each summer american avocets linger after the main bolivar flock leaves.
Sometime around the end of June almost all of the avocets go somewhere else
and there there only a couple last week and this week.

Almost all the terns on the beaches and flats were royal terns with lots of
chicks. The sandwich terns have moved elsewhere as they did last summer.
They seem to specialize more in shrimp so that diet choice may move them
around. Parent royals bring food to chicks in the flock are starting to be
set on by other terns. It will be very lively out there in coming weeks
until the chicks are no longer fed.

One pair of least terns on Bolivar flats was still doing the "give me a
fish and we can mate act" but there were only say a dozen there and one on
east beach.

Two black terns had just dropped in on the flats for the first of the
summer. Did not see any crossing over 1985 or Anahuac.

Nothing on the ferry ride and only one warbler in port bolivar crossing the
road and vanishing. Painted buntings still singing at several sites.

The stars of the day were either 2 or 3 black rails along Retillon road in
the same spot where they lived 3 summers ago. I have stopped every trip
since then with no luck until today when somebody called grrrr.

A few more grrrr's and then a kick grrrrr. Two birds called back and forth
and maybe one answered from the west side of Retillon. If you come from the
beach, stop where there is a sandy pulloff on the right before the sandy
pulloffs on the left. Walk a little bit north and there is a single
scraggle salt cedar. Past it a little damp slough of short green grass runs
back southeast to the beach and the rails were calling just past the salt
cedar. I had them calling about 11:30. Three years ago there were more
birds again east of Retillon but opposited the dirt pulloffs on the west
side of the road. Did not hear them there.

It is drying so they may not hang around.

Eastern willets were along Retillon but not the roads to the east. Still on
Yacht Basin Road.

Good shorebirds on the flats. About 500 western sandpipers have arrived
still in breeding plumage. They appeared tired and slept as well as
feeding. Looked for goodies among them and found one each least and
semipalmated sandpiper. 4 dunlins continue to summer and maybe 50 western
willets have arrived. 12 piping plovers and 40 semipalmated plovers joined
3 summering black-bellied plovers. Wilson's plovers are starting to flock
and there were about 35 birds.

Newly arrived short-billed dowitchers were in high breeding plumage as were
several marbled godwits. Only a single long-billed curlew. Newly arrived
ruddy turnstones were turning the sargassum and finding goodies.

The summering osprey was not on its usual perches which have been taken
over by brown pelicans. It was perched on one the the nesting area signs
down the flats.before heading back towards port bolivar.

Looped around Anahuac on the way home and the rookery was going well. Lots
of youngsters out with 5 species of newly fledged birds on a reed bed.
White-faced ibis chicks were making more noise than the cattle egrets. No
buteos again for the day and only 2 turkey vultures but the black vulture
pair were on their pole.

I spent several hours walking the beaches and you do need water out there
but that is normal for the season.

Joseph C. Kennedy
on Buffalo Bayou in West Houston

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