Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Apr 21 (Day 111) - Back on track!

The plan for today was to spend a few hours kicking around Anahuac NWR (TX) before heading down to High Island for the afternoon. I figured that a few relaxing hours of morning birding would be a nice change of pace from the high energy rail walks from the past two days. However, the morning was not without excitement as I was able to tack on two good birds to the year list. The first of these was Nashville warbler (#323). This bird normally migrates along a more inland route, so finding this lone bird this morning was a good find for Anahuac. I was also able to find a Bobolink (#324) which is a very good find for this area (but not as good as Black-throated blue warbler from last week). The normal migration route of Bobolink carries is mainly east of where I am at the moment. They are seen in Eastern Texas with some regularity, but there is no single spot to which a person can go at this time of year in Texas and expect to see the bird. I figured I would get this bird in Colorado during the summer. After today, this is no longer a variable that I need to consider in my travel equation. Just as a note, Bobolinks are closely related to meadowlarks, blackbirds, orioles. Together these birds form the family Icteridae. 

Bobolink from today - headed directly to the website!

The afternoon was spent birding at High Island. High Island sits on the Texas coast about 30 miles east of Galveston and is probably the most famous migrant trap in North America. Every April hundreds (thousands?) of birders, well-seasoned and novice alike, descend on this area to witness the spectacle of spring migration. The boardwalks are jammed with people spotting warblers, vireos, cuckoos, thrushes, and tanagers. It is a time for the birding community to come together, exchange birding stories, and spend time celebrating the birds as they return to their summer homes in North America. The birding today was fairly decent. Birding with Victor Emanuel, we were able to tease out a number of nice birds including Canada warbler, Hooded warbler, Blackburnian warbler, and most notable, my year Philadelphia vireo (#325). Today's visit was just a preview as I all be returning to the area on Wednesday for 4-5 additional days of birding.

56 miles today (54 + 2 unmapped)

After my High Island visit, I headed southwest to the Bolivar Peninsula where I will be spending the next two nights. This visit to costal cottage of Victor Emanuel is as much a social call as it is a birding endeavor. Victor and I have been friends for 23 years (we met when I was 12!), and I always enjoy hearing about the great things to which he is currently devoting himself. He has been birding the Bolivar area for many years, so I will have a very knowledgable guide for our outing tomorrow. I was also able to add Black tern (#326) on my ride to the peninsula this afternoon. I was just amazed by the number and diversity of terns I observed at Rollover Beach on the peninsula. At one point I had Caspian, Royal, Sandwich, Gull-billed, Common, Forster's, Black, and Least terns all visible at the same time. This was a real treat and demonstrated why this area is a top birding destination at this time of year. Tomorrow should be very exciting!

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