Friday, April 05, 2013

Smith Oaks Rookery

After feasting our eyes on the myriad bird species at Rollover Pass, we drove the few miles to High Island to see another spring birding spectacular – the Smith Oaks rookery at High Island.

Several observation platforms look out over islands that are crowded with Neotropic Cormorants and various species of large wading birds.

The Cormorants are generally the least entertaining of the nesting birds. Their main contribution to the scene is to provide a soundtrack of incessant croaking noises.

Great Egrets, beautiful in their breeding plumage, either stand or sit on nests or fly back and forth bringing in nesting materials.

A smaller number of Snowy Egrets are also busy bringing in nesting materials or looking for nesting sites.

For most visitors, however, the undoubted stars of the show are the Roseate Spoonbills. Whether flying in with twigs or arguing over nest sites or picking their way carefully through the trees and bushes, they are always worth watching.

Some of them even manage to take a nap amidst all the noise and chaos of the rookery.

The water around the islands wasn't very busy on this visit but there were a few American Coots, Common Gallinules and Blue-winged Teal (below).

If you live in our area and have never been to the High Island rookery, you should definitely try to visit it over the next couple of months. Soon you'll be able to watch the birds sitting on and occasionally turning their eggs. After that there is even more to watch - and listen to - when the young birds appear and require constant feeding.

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