Sunday, April 17, 2011

High Island & Bolivar

We arrived at Boy Scout Woods at 10:30 on Friday to find the site absolutely hopping with activity. Unfortunately, there were a lot more human visitors than avian ones! 

We stayed for 90 minutes and were rewarded by views of some good birds - Indigo and Painted Buntings, Kentucky Warbler, Black-throated Green Warblers, Yellow Warbler, Summer Tanagers, Eastern Towhee, Northern Waterthrush, Eastern Kingbirds, Baltimore Oriole and a dozen or more Orchard Orioles. However, most of the birds were at the drip, where the benches and the surrounding area were jam-packed with birders. So, feeling rather claustrophobic, we decided to join in the shorebird trip led by Scott and Nick from Tropical Birding. If, as I hoped, the anticipated cold front arrived in the early afternoon, we could return to High Island later in the day to see whether more birds had turned up.

The shorebird trip was excellent, partly because there were plenty of birds to see and partly because our two guides were extremely friendly and knowledgeable. (Many thanks, Scott and Nick!)

The first stop was at Rollover Pass, where the beach and sandbars were crowded with hundreds of birds. Among the closest birds were scores of Black Skimmers, among our favorite birds.

Many of the Skimmers were hunkered right down on the sand, a typical behavior of these remarkable birds.  

Terns were plentiful, too. With our guides' help, we were able to pick out Royal, Caspian, Black, Forster's, Common and Least.

 Royal Tern
Forster's Tern
Further away, sandbars and the shallow waters were busy with Black-necked Stilts, American Avocets; Willets, American Oystercatchers, Marbled Godwits, Sanderlings, Great and Snowy Egrets and several other species, while Brown Pelicans constantly flew overhead.


The next stop was along Bob Road, where a Seaside Sparrow noisily greeted our arrival. The wetland area had Roseate Spoonbills, Great and Snowy Egrets, Blue-winged Teal, Common and Black Terns, and a good selection of shorebirds.

The shorebirds included: Least and Semi-palmated Sandpipers; Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs; Whimbrels; Willets; Black-necked Stilts; Dunlins; Wilson's, Black-bellied and Semi-palmated Plovers; Short-billed Dowitchers and a Wilson's Phalarope.

 Wilson's Phalarope

The tour was scheduled to proceed to the Audubon beach but our guides announced that migrants were arriving in large numbers at Boy Scout Woods. So we took at last look at the shorebirds and then all piled into our cars to rush back to High Island. As I will explain tomorrow, the rush was worthwhile!

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