Monday, April 06, 2015

Coastal Trip (1)

On Saturday morning we drove down to High Island, stopping on the way to do a very brief and not very rewarding drive around Shoveler Pond at Anahuac NWR.

We got to High Island just in time to join the guided tour to some sites on the Bolivar Peninsula. The most productive stop on the tour was at the beach immediately south of High Island itself. We drove just a few hundred feet east along the beach and were lucky enough to come across a flock of several hundred terns and gulls standing near the water's edge.

The photo below shows three tern species. From smallest to largest there are: Common Terns (red bill and legs), Sandwich Terns (yellow tip on black bill) and Royal Terns (big, orange bills).

One group of Royal Terns looked quite imposing as they swaggered through the water.

Two other Royal Terns were mating.

Most of the gulls were Laughing Gulls, the most common species in our area. The photo below has two at the top left and one at the top center. However, there were also a handful of Bonaparte's Gulls, a species I'd never before seen on my birding trips in Texas. In the photo below it is the bird at the top right.

After this stop the tour moved on to Rollover Pass and two other sites on Bolivar. Unfortunately, it was extremely windy and most birds kept their distance, making both birding and photography very difficult. So rather than spend the rest of the afternoon at the beach, we decided to visit the rookery in Smith Oaks, where the nesting birds always put on a great show.

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