Monday, January 17, 2011

Galveston Trip 1

When I reserved our motel in Galveston, the weather forecast predicted weekend would be warm and dry. By the time we left on Saturday morning, things had changed and the forecast was for cool, wet and windy weather. So it turned out not to be the best weekend for birding the coast.

As soon as we arrived on the island, we headed for the Corps Woods, where there had been reports of a Prairie Warbler, a new bird for both of us. We planned to picnic there but it was so cold that we decided to leave after just a few minutes. That's when Dee spotted the Prairie Warbler. It took a while but I finally got a glimpse of it, too, although it was too elusive for a photo.

Less elusive were a Ruby-crowned Kinglet and a Golden-crowned Kinglet.

A Blue-gray Gnatcatcher was even more coooperative.

On our way out of the woods, we ran across our first Catttle Egret of the year.

The ferry ride to Bolivar was as much fun as ever. We spotted several dolphins and there was the usual swarm of Laughing Gulls around the boat.

There were a few stowaways, too.

I was hoping for Red-breasted Mergansers at the Bolivar landing stage and, sure enough, we saw several. I love Mergansers!

The Audubon beach was largely empty of birds, except for lots of Sanderlings, most of which were standing or moving around on one leg, presumably because of the cold.

A Dunlin, too, was using only one leg.

There was the occasional flyby of Brown Pelicans and a couple of small flocks of avocets, and the odd Ruddy Trunstone made an appearance.

The best sighting was of a group of 20+ Long-billed Curlews. There are usually some Curlews on Bolivar beach but we'd never seen so many at once before.

As the beach hadn't been very productive, we decided to take the loop road back to the ferry. It was a good decision.

Several of the utility poles were occupied by large hawks. We puzzled over these for ages until we realized they were Red-tailed Hawks.

Further around the loop we stopped to eat our sandwiches in the car. A Belted Kingfisher was perched on the utility wires across the road.

At first we thought that no other birds were present. Then Dee noticed a solitary Roseate Spoonbill in the distance. As I watched it through binoculars, it was joined by a Little Blue Heron. A couple of minutes later, Dee spotted an Osprey perched on a fence post and, before we headed back to the ferry, I saw a White Pelican fly by.

So, although our first day had been comparatively disappointing for birds, we had seen a few interesting species. Unfortunately, the forecast for Sunday was for much worse weather and we supected that it was going to be even less productive for birds. As it turned out, the forecast was accurate but our suspicions were not.


Dave said...

Jeff great set of images mate. Lousy weather or not, you have captured the weekend well. I particularly like Sanderlings.... a great little wader


Jeff said...

They're very engaging birds, aren't they? Always on the move. I don't think I've ever seen any resting before.