Date: 7/26/20 10:35 am
From: Joseph Kennedy <josephkennedy36...>
Subject: [texbirds] Coastal birding last Thursday illustrated
Did my weekly loop around east galveston bay on Thursday with many
different birds than on the previous week. Tides ahead of Hanna were
already high and you could only see where the galveston jetty was by some
wave action. Over on Bolivar, much of the area where birds fed in recent
weeks was well under water. People were arriving to camp for the weekend
and some set up on the water side of a recent higher tide debris line.
Looking at the beach cameras over the last couple of days, there was no
beach on bolivar and most of the galveston side was also flooded. No good
birds seen on camera unlike the brown booby a couple of weeks ago off the
east beach camera with pelicans.

Migrant birds are returning with my first red red knot on east beach.

Very few small plovers, 2 piping, 2 snowy and 1 wilson's. Snowy plovers are
way down this fall as I have had none on Bolivar and the usual roost spots
have none.

Another bird with a big change from prior years is the reddish egret

During the past few summers good numbers of the egrets were on bolivar and
most were 2nd year non-breeders. Up to a third were white phase birds. This
year numbers are maybe a third of past years and the proportion of white
birds is much smaller.

A roseate spoonbill was feeding like a woodstork, waiting to snap the bill
shut when it felt a goody

Fort Travis had 159 marbled godwits along with 6 short-billed dowitchers.
There are really lots of insect grubs in the grass there

Out on bolivar flats the common shorebirds were about 500 western
sandpipers and 200 sanderlings. The westerns were fresh arrivals in 3
roosting flocks. Most birds were roosting during my stay.

Sanderlings are big birds compared to the western sandpipers

Least sandpipers continue to be missing from both sides of the ship channel
where they are common by now in the weed lines and dryer sand.

the noise on the flats and elsewhere is mainly the young royal terns who
really want to be fed

They mainly get one fish per trip and lots of begging goes nowhere. Other
royal terns now are starting to pirate fish from parents bring fish to
chicks with up to a dozen after the fish carrier. chicks learn to move out
of the flock in order to eat

Only 1 common and 1 caspian tern for the day and 0 black terns. Very small
numbers of sandwich terns as in recent years. They seem to be more shrimp
eaters rather than fish eaters and do better like at the Quintana jetty.

Wilson's plovers were roosting in the old weed piles with 47 there
thursday. 6 had local red bands with 5 identified

The adult plovers are in heavy molt and old feathers stick out

Only 2 or 3 chicks of the year were present as many locals got flooded out
this summer

Some show off their bands

while others make them harder to read

Some of the young of the year royal tern chicks have very well marked
feather edges which will wear off during the fall

Bills on the sandwich terns can be all yellow


or black

And he stepped out of the fish line

There are more laughing gulls further east on bolivar than on the flats or
Galveston east beach

It will be interesting to see what changes Hanna brings to the beaches and
birds. Have been watching beach cameras and not seeing many birds at all.

Joseph C. Kennedy
on Buffalo Bayou in West Houston

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