Wednesday, March 14, 2012

South Texas - Gulf Coast

 On March 1st we drove from the dry thorn forest to the tropical forest of Sable Palm Sanctuary in Brownsville, TX; then unto the Gulf Coast at Boca Chica.  The Beach was littered with washed up Man of War jellyfish (with warning flags for venomous sea life).   But the birds were numerous including 52 Piping Plovers, Willets, Sanderlings, Brown Pelicans, Laughing Gulls and 6 species of Terns (Sandwich, Gull-billed, Royal, Caspian, Forester's, & Least).

Rio RV Park owner just happened to be the local Audubon president who offered to drive us to Brownsville's most "famous" birding area - the Sanitary Landfill.  We not only saw literally thousands of gulls, vultures, caracaras, cattle egrets, and Chihauhaun Ravens but the much sought after Tamaulipas Crow.  We saw both morphs of the Reddish Egrets on the delta plains to Boca Chica along with White-tailed Hawks and many flocks of ducks headed north along the coast.

 Our next destination was South Padre Island and a week's stay at Andy Bowie park across from the World Birding Center and also access to miles of beach.  Our twice daily visits to the elevated boardwalks provided a great variety of interesting birds: Black Skimmers, Am. Oystercatchers, Tri-colored, Little Blue & Great Blue Herons, Snowy, Reddish, Cattle & Great Egrets, Yellow-Crowned & Black-Crowned Night-herons, Roseate Spoonbills, White Ibis, Long-billed Curlews, Marbled Godwits, Black-necked Stilts, Am. Avocets, Sora, Clapper & King Rails, a Short-eared Owl and a Wilson's Plover.   Ducks and Coot were staying clear of this 8 foot long Alligator, (pictured to the left).

After 5 days of 85 degree weather, a large cold front dropped the temps 30 degrees with rain and high winds.  This produced a fallout of passerines including a nice variety of warblers: Yellow-throated, N. Parula, Black & White, Louisiana Waterthrush, Black-thr. Green and the hotline rare bird - the Golden-cheeked Warbler last seen on the Island in 1997 which brought dozens of birders to the area.

As Spring Break college kids were arriving - we were leaving, last stop church at the "Chapel by the Sea".  We drove north to Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge and the 15 mile auto tour.  Bird & animal highlights include: Botteri's Sparrow, Swallow-tailed Kite, many Roadrunners & Chachalacas, Green Jays, Nilgai ( large Pakistani hoof stock escaped from King's Ranch) 8 foot long Indigo Snake and Coyotes.

On the way to Port Mansfield, we had great looks at an Aplomado Flacon, Scissors-tailed Flycatcher and earlier that morning; Com. Poorwill, Com. Pauraque, and Barn Owl.

As we head north along the coast we are looking forward to a great Spring migration.
Our best to all,  Ida & Ty

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