Date: 7/20/20 7:50 am
From: Joseph Kennedy <josephkennedy36...>
Subject: [texbirds] Coastal birding and pictures from Thursday
Did my usual summer circuit around East Galveston Bay last Thursday
starting on Galveston's east beach. Tides were very low and receding a bit
with very little wind. Later in the am, the wind dropped entirely and the
waves on bolivar flats were in the 2 inch range with wide areas of mud and
slop. Lots of birds sleeping, soaking and not doing much.

East beach had very little around. No birds in the parking lots or roosting
in the fenced area. Had 2 each snowy, piping and wilson's plover. Added one
more banded piping plover when I got home and checked a practice shot to
see if the camera would fog up. That bird and 2 banded birds on Bolivar
were all born and bred in 2016 and have been wintering locally since then.

There was a group of about 135 least terns resting near the jetty. I first
thought that a good part of them were non-breeders but quite a few were
young of the year raised other than at bolivar or east beach

One caspian tern and a flock way out on a sandbar of all royal terns made
up the rest of the water birds other than a few laughing gulls and a single
ring-billed gull.

The ferry ride and Port Bolivar had few birds. A black-crowned night heron
on a fence post

And a fledged black-necked stilt

Fort Travis had 2 marbled godwits.

There was a big change in birds on Bolivar Flats from a week ago. More
people likely moved some around and as it was siesta time,, many may have
been roosting back inside the fenced area.

Did get 14 piping plovers, mainly staying wet and preening but zero
wilson's and snowy plovers.

The big influx for the day was 240 western willets. There are really large
numbers of tiny minnows in the shallows and one group of the willets was
eating lots of the minnows trapped in a small pool. A total of 22
long-billed curlews was also a big jump in numbers.

The bleached bird may have been the summering curlew

One banded american oystercatcher was my first in several trips

Also a single common tern

And a single lesser black-backed gull

Some of the laughing gulls have molted to winter plumage

The least terns on the flats sorted differently than across the bay as all
were adults

The piping plovers were feeding

Only a few western sandpipers, sanderlings, marbled godwits and ruddy
turnstones out in the open. The young of the year crested caracara was back
under some marsh grass in the shade.

The excitement for the day was provided by an adult caspian tern that took
a great dislike for my head. It flew right at my face yelling with its
mouth open as in this older picture.

The young bird was sitting a good ways off with royal terns that showed no
interest in me and just wanted to sit in the cool water.

On the way in, there was a group of 45 common nighthawks feeding in a large
insect hatch over the vegetation nearest the sandy area west of the road.
More flew in to join them. A fledged horned lark was near the traditional
nest area.

Again no hawks along 1985 or heading up to I-10. The rookery in shoveler
pond is still going strong with mainly largish white-faced ibis chicks
calling but cattle egrets are still bringing food and standing around. Many
youngsters out of the nest waiting to get the urge to find their own food.
They were mowing along the access road and were feeding a large flock of
cattle egrets.

Some rice will be harvested fairly soon and can provide a good show as they
cut and in the day or so after when hawks ans herons scarf up the critters
that lived under the rice. Some away from the road already had harvest
equipment present.

And the forecast for this week includes daily thunder showers. If you are
out in black rail country like Anahuac and roads on Bolivar like Retillon,
Johnston, or Stingaree, the rails will respond with each clap of thunder
even if it is a couple of miles away. Might even get one to fly or run
across the road. Can also try Galveston Island State park but you have to
walk out the trail there which might not be so good with lightning nearby.

Joseph C. Kennedy
on Buffalo Bayou in West Houston

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