by Henry Detwiler
Barry & Margie Hawthorne, Ron Nelson, and I enjoyed two weeks
and 2600 miles of birding in Texas.
species -- complete list at end of page 1
thumbnail pictures for full-sized shots. Numbers refer to locations on
the Texas Map on Page 1.
TUESDAY, 20 Apr 04
|Since we were so close, we took an early morning hike
in W.G. Jones Forest again. Hooded Warblers sang prolifically,
but avoided all attempts to be seen. Fortunately we had
better luck with others, like Wood Duck, Chestnut-sided Warbler, and
|A couple of hours northeast took us to our first patch
of the "Big Thicket" (19), where we finally got to see our
Hooded Warbler high up in a tree. Another nice treat was this
finely plumaged Painted Bunting. A visit to the newly opened
Big Thicket Visitor Center revealed it be an informational treasure
Equipped with maps and brochures, we set out to
see Pitcher Plants and Sundews, both carnivorous plants.
Shortly thereafter, we saw the retiring Swainson's Warbler, and later still the
Bachman's Sparrow, restricted to the southern belt of Piney woods.
Margie, Barry, &
in the Big Thicket
WEDNESDAY, 21 Apr 04
|We drove straight to High Island (20)
this morning, but
southerly winds made for few warblers--the only sightings were Blackpoll
and a female Hooded. Smith Oak Woods had a fine rookery going, but also
proved to be lacking in migrants.
Yellow-billed Cuckoo at High
|After a tasty picnic in the woods, we drove a short
distance to Anahuac NWR (21). Here we added more lifers and great
birds for the trip. This was THE spot for Fulvous
Whistling-Duck, Purple Gallinule, and Least Bittern.
As we scrutinized and worked the cattails, we coaxed
this King Rail out for several brief views. In the Yellow Rail
Prairie, Ron and I attempted in vain to flush the little guys.
All I managed to flush was a 4-foot alligator, who wheeled around
and grinned at me with shiny teeth. Fortunately, we got a Seaside Sparrow farther down the road!
THURSDAY, 22 Apr
morning saw us back at High Island once again--but still no new
warblers. Fortunately, a Sedge Wren seen from the boardwalk was a
new bird for Barry & Margie. So we moved along to the
coast towards Bolivar Flats (22). This cooperative Clapper Rail was
along the way, perched up on the edge of a milk carton.
Bolivar Flats was teeming with bird life!
Least Terns were nesting and dive-bombing intruders--we saw
several eggs in their scrapes. Farther along the beach we
added Black Skimmer, a single Red Knot, more Reddish Egrets and
other waders, avocets, dowitchers, sandpipers, and all manner of
plovers: Wilson's, Snowy, Semipalmated, Piping, & Killdeer. In the
Spartina grass marsh we found our real targets, good numbers of
Nelson's Sharp-tailed Sparrows.
Nelson's Sharp-tailed Sparrow
FRIDAY, 23 Apr
Today was our last full day! We started out at
Taylor Bayou and before long Barry had his prize Prothonotary
Warbler eyeball to eyeball. To top it off, a Yellow-throated
Warbler sang at the top of a cypress. Back at High Island,
Barry and Margie waited out an Ovenbird and an American Redstart
while Ron and I found a flock of White-rumped Sandpipers back at Anahuac.
Smith Oaks Rookery
We picnicked at Smith Oaks again, and then roamed
the woods in search of new birds. Blue-winged Warbler,
orioles, Scarlet & Summer Tanagers, and Gray-cheeked Thrush were
hard-won birds. We also spent more time looking at the fine
birds at the rookery, and watching the alligators down below, who
were also watching the birds!
SATURDAY, 24 Apr 04
|Clouds and rain returned once again as we headed
north to Liberty in search of Swallow-tailed Kites. No kites, but we saw a
Red-shouldered Hawk, and watched a cottonmouth drag a dead frog
back to its watery lair. Shortly after lunch we said our
goodbyes at the Houston airport. It was an excellent trip,
with good friends and good birds--I can't wait until next time!
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