Date: 3/24/21 11:14 am
From: Petra Hockey <phockey...>
Subject: [texbirds] Espiritu Santo Bay and Matagorda Island after the freeze

Taking advantage of calm wind and mirror-flat water we checked out Espiritu Santa Bay and the center part of Matagorda Island yesterday. It was the first visit after the Deep Freeze.

I feared for the little Brown Booby colony around the small gas wells. They had been present for several years and lately numbered up to 16 individuals. None were found and many/most/all (?) are presumed to have perished. A highlight from the center part of the bay was a large pre-migratory flock of 53 Common Loons with a smaller Pacific mixed in and an even larger flock of 240 Red-breasted Mergansers. Their wings made a lot of wind noise when they flew away from our boat.

On Matagorda Island we checked around the headquarters, along several runways, a freshwater pond and “The Triangle" (an area with more trees than much of the rest of the island). Overall the number of small birds was quite low, as expected after the vicious freeze. No kinglet, no gnatcatcher, just 1 Eastern Phoebe. But we did find a nice mixed warbler flock with our first of season Blue-winged Warbler, several Black-throated Green, N. Parula and Nashvilles. 9 warbler species total were present. The 10 sparrow species were unusually high for the island but numbers of individuals were very low. We watched 2 Clay-colored, 2 Lark, 1 White-crowned, 1 Grasshopper, 1 Vesper, 1 Song, 3 Swamp, 3 Chipping, 5 Lincoln’s and 15 Savannah Sparrows. Many of those are pretty uncommon on the island. Long-billed Thrashers were in full song on their perches. The first Scissor-tailed Flycatchers had arrived and Barn Swallows were migrating along the barrier island in a constant slow stream. In total
we tallied 77 species in 2.5 hours. Complete list has been posted to e-bird.

An afternoon walk along less than 0.5 mile of shoreline along the bayside of the island at Josephine’s Motte had 15 dead Green Sea Turtles and countless desiccated fishes of many different species.

Petra Hockey
Port O’Connor, Calhoun Co.

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