Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Bolivar Flats Bird Sanctuary

We drove slowly down Retilion Road without seeing a single bird. The beach between there and the sanctuary was empty except for Laughing Gulls and a few Willets. Even the sanctuary beach itself was nowhere near as busy with birds as I'd expected.

The first interesting bird up was a Long-billed Curlew, perhaps my favorite shorebird and one that I hadn't seen yet this year.

We then had to walk west almost to the end of the beach before we saw more birds on the ground or in the water. Brown Pelicans were sharing the area with perhaps a couple of hundred other birds: Laughing Gulls, Royal and Sandwich Terns, Black Terns, Sanderlings and a solitary Neotropic Cormorant.

There were a few Gull-billed Terns, too.

Least Terns were nesting in the grass behind the beach, and parents kept zooming over carrying small fish to their young.

The only plovers around were three Wilson's Plovers.

My day was made when I came across a pair of Black Skimmers. With their huge bills, they are such comical and yet graceful birds. These two seemed to be enjoying a pleasant walk together.

As we approached, they stopped as if to discuss me.

When they turned, I was amazed to see just how thin their bills are. I've never been close enough to notice this before. I suppose it is to allow the bottom mandible to cut through the water with minimum drag when they are fishing.

So not a great number or variety of birds on Bolivar Flats this time, but still well worth the visit, if only for the close-up views of the Skimmers. My year list moved to 256 with the addition of Long-billed Curlew, Black Tern, Sandwich Tern, Wilson's Plover, Western Sandpiper and Red Knot.


Birdwoman said...

Great pictures as usual. You gotta love those skimmers. Such perfectly engineered bodies for the work they do. Of course, you could say that about just about any bird.

Jeff said...

Absolutely. Birds such as Skimmers, Pelicans and Vultures look really ungainly until you see how beautifully adapted their bodies are for the way they live.