Bathing Beauties of Texas - p 1 of 2

 

29 Apr 2014

I did not in fact plan it this way.  But the easiest way to photograph migrant songbirds along the Texas coast turned out to be at water features.

At Sabine Woods bird sanctuary, you have your choice of Howard's or the newer Rose Ann's Water Feature.  So instead of traipsing around the reserve, I spent the morning sipping  McCafe coffee, swatting mosquitoes, and watching the parade of birds that were thirsty or maybe needed a good bath.  For example, Brown Thrasher, two of whom were regulars.  Rather shy out in the woods, they made themselves at home here, scratching in the dirt, chasing each other, or relaxing in the natural stone bird bath, into which dripped water.   

 

Brown Thrasher

Gray Catbird  

 

 

 

As soon as I entered Sabine Woods the first day, up popped a Gray Catbird for a photo.   What luck, I thought, to get this bird so easily.  But it wasn't luck.   Sabine Woods is awash with catbirds.  You can't swing a dead cat around here without hitting a catbird.  They skulk in the undergrowth, meowing occasionally, and of course are regulars at the water features. 

Few warblers are more handsome than the Chestnut-sided, shown here at Howard's water feature.  Several of these, along with Bay-breasted, showed up around 3 this afternoon, right on schedule.

This bird likely left the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico last night at dusk.  Along with countless thousands of other birds, it flew all night.   Dawn found it still far out in the Gulf.  So on it  went, finally reaching Sabine Woods after flying nonstop for 15-18 hr.  With no in-flight service.  

 

 

Chestnut-sided Warbler
Dunlin

 

 

 

 

 

Meanwhile, down at Sea Rim State Park, the shallow pools and muddy banks held up to 20 Dunlin, shown here.  Also mucking about were Semipalmated Plovers, Western Sandpipers, American Avocets, and Black-necked Stilts.

Sanderlings scurried around on the beach; terns and Laughing Gulls loafed about.  These Royal Terns, like the birds at Sabine Woods, were enjoying a refreshing bath.  Three other species of terns, Forster's, Gull-billed, and Least, could be seen among the beach idlers.  Royal Terns
Black-throated Green Warbler 30 Apr 2014

Today I drove over to Sabine NWR in Louisiana.  It has a boardwalk, the Wetland Walkway.  But I never got that  far.  Near the parking lot were mulberry trees loaded with fruit.  Just the ticket for hungry migrants.

So we had Baltimore & Orchard Orioles, Summer Tangers, a few Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, and of course warblers.  Normally eating high-protein insects, warblers like this Black-throated Green also indulged in mulberries.  American Redstarts and Tennessee Warblers were also in attendence.

 

30 Apr 2014

Rose Ann's water feature draws its share of 'trash birds' - quite a few Red-winged Blackbirds and Brown-headed Cowbirds.  A new-comer to the area is Bronzed Cowbird, moving north with each passing year.  And the occasional Common Grackle; the male's irridescence is photo-worthy in good light.

Common Grackle

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