Monday, April 19, 2010
Another Fine Day of Birding at High Island
My day began at Anahuac NWR at 7 AM to see if there might be hudsonian godwits or white-rumped sandpipers that had come in overnite. There were not any so I headed down to High Island to see what the nite had brought in there. The number of birds were definitely down from yesterday but 2 new year birds (philadelphia vireo and wood thrush) were seen.
I had agreed yesterday to meet up with the birder from England, and we decided to start driving down the Bolivar peninsula in search of shore birds. We hit several places along the way seeing many good birds but no new ones for the year until we arrived at Frenchtown Rd. In a pool of water we found a partially molted red knot (top picture). We drove to the end of the road and then returned to the pool to check it one more time. As we scanned the water we saw a group of large birds (bottom photo above) which turned out to be hudsonian godwits. We counted 15 birds in all. Notice the dark rusty chest on 1 of the godwits. Also the long up-turned bills. Remember if you click on the photo it will get bigger.
The hudsonian godwit stops along the coast of Texas on its way to its breeding grounds in places like Alaska and the Hudson Bay in Canada. Two days ago 13 birds were seen at this same location for 15 minutes before they continued their flight northward. Today when another birder arrived and got out of his car, the group took flight and were joined by 6 other godwits that we had not noticed. They also headed north and did not return to the pool. Finding this bird today was a thrill because I have only seen them before in Alaska. Also, I really needed to see them in Texas for the big year, otherwise I would have little chance of seeing them in the fall on their return flight to South America.
We were both elated at the find. We then headed back up to High Island for late afternoon birding in the Smith Oaks section of High Island. It was another sunny end to the day with temps in the 70's. Even though it was a weekday, there were as many birders today as yesterday. Three more new warbler species for the year were located--yellow, chestnut-sided, and cerulean. The last one attracted a large crowd who happily enjoyed watching the bird quietly eat its dinner.
Today ended with 40 new birds for the week bringing that total to 160. There were 7 new year birds raising the YTD number to 494. Tomorrow I am here again to see what new migrants might have flown in overnite. Maybe a white-rumped sandpiper will make an appearance. Stay tuned!