Thursday, April 17, 2014

Apr 16 (Day 106) - Hard work for bird #316, rundown of birds I still need on the Texas Coast

A quick note: I completely forgot to add Least flycatcher from yesterday. I heard one along the road on my ride to Sabine Woods very early in the morning. This bird was #308, and I changed the numbering of the other species I added yesterday accordingly. Now back to our regularly scheduled birdcast....

What a difference a day makes. Yesterday was incredibly birdy at Sabine woods; Today was markedly less so. While most of the birds present on Tuesday appeared to have continued north last night, only a few representatives from most of the common migrants remained to entertain birders today. I was personally able to tease out ~15 warbler species today (Worm-eating, Cerulean, Kentucky, others) but none of these were new for the year. I also found large number of both Wood and Swainson's thrushes. I refused to believe that there wasn't at least one Veery or Gray-cheeked mixed in with these more common birds. I made it my personal mission to repeatedly comb through the thrushes until I found something else. After much searching, I was eventually able to identify a Gray-cheeked thrush for bird #316. I was very happy that my strategy and diligence proved fruitful! This is a bit on the early side for this species, so it was a quality find for today.

Gray-cheeked thrush - note plain gray face, 
largely yellow lower mandible, and lack 
of buffy eye ring (like Swainson's thrush)

Everyone is in general agreement that northeast winds will likely prevent a significant trans-gulf migration tonight. Sabine Woods is thus likely to be very quiet all day tomorrow. I was going to head to Anahuac on Friday, but I might break out of here a day early if the birding gets any slower. I did take a few pics today, so here they are.

Yellow throated vireo

Solitary sandpiper

Nighthawk - there was lots of debate if it was a Common
or a Lesser. Going down as just Nighthawk in my book.
This is a relative of the Eastern whip-poor-will from yesterday.

 The always popular Scarlet tanager

A very distant shot of a Peregrine falcon. I have not
seen many of these since I left the northeast.

 Overexposed male Summer tanager

Perfectly exposed female Summer tanager. She's easier
since her colors are quite as vibrant. This will probably find its way

As far as bird finding in the next 10 days, I will focus on finding the following species before I start the run west to Austin and beyond to Arizona.

I need to be in the marshes/beaches/rice fields/wet areas to find these
Mississippi kite - I should see this, if I missed this I can get it between here and Austin
Yellow rail - Anahuac is my only shot this year. They have been seen on 2 of 8 rail walks this year. It is a down year for them. I will do 3-4 walks so, this means maybe a 25% chance at this bird.
Black rail - Very rarely seen on Anahuac rail walks, but more likely to be heard. Still a very slim chance. Will have shots at this elsewhere, but it will be just as hard/unlikely in those areas.
White-rumped sandpiper - Migrates late, should get at Anahuac or Bolivar peninsula next week.
Buff-breasted sandpiper - Same as above but harder to find. I could miss this...ugh.
Franklin's gull - Has been seen every day at Rollover Pass on Bolivar for last week. I should get this.
Black tern - Same as above.

I need to be in the woods to see these:
Black-billed cuckoo - Generally come through after April 20, fair chance at High Island next week
Yellow-bellied flycatcher - Probably won't get this, most come through in early May after I leave this area
Alder+Willow flycatchers  - These also come through really late. Also, they do not call much around here, so identification will be difficult if not impossible. Willow I could get breeding out west. Alder will almost surely be missed.
Philadelphia vireo - Come through after April 20, good chance at High Island next week.
Veery - Same as above. Could get in Northern Rockies if I miss this here, but here would be much easier!
Nashville warbler - I could get this elsewhere, but it would be good to get it out of the way now.
Magnolia warbler - Come through after April 20, great chance at High Island next week.
Bay-breasted warbler - Same as above, but less common. I should still get this at High Island.
Blackpoll warbler - Same as above
Mourning warbler - Very late migrant, very hard to find. I expect to miss this.
Cape May warbler - SUPER hard to find since it is an Eastern Gulf migrant. However, they still see more of these each year in Texas than they do Black-throated blue warblers! I do not expect to see this, but since I was able to find Black-throated blue, who knows?!?!?!?


  1. You called the vireo a Yellow-throated Warbler. ;)
    ~Patrick M.

  2. Bobolink could be slightly tricky given your route. Be ready for calling flyovers in TX; else June/July along the Front Range probably the best bet. --Dave S.