Monday, April 20, 2015

Good Weather for Birds but Bad for Us

Saturday at High Island was incredibly frustrating for both Dee and myself. The problem was not a lack of birds. On the contrary, there were birds everywhere. Twenty-eight species of warblers were in the woods. The parking lot had tanagers, orioles and grosbeaks. The front yard of the Houston Audubon house opposite the entrance to Boy Scout Woods was hosting warblers, vireos, buntings and orioles. Unfortunately, Dee and I wear glasses and this is a problem when you try to use binoculars on a humid day. Whenever we raised our binoculars to watch a bird, we would have only 3-4 seconds of clear vision before our glasses fogged up! 

The fact it was a dark and gloomy day didn't help either, since my cameras aren't good enough to handle low-light photography. Of the eleven warbler species that I saw, I only managed (poor) photos of three: Prothonotary, Tennessee and Blackburnian.

 I had the same problem with the larger birds that I came across in the morning and on the afternoon bird-walk: Common Nighthawk, Eastern Wood-Pewee, Baltimore and Orchard Orioles; Scarlet and Summer Tanagers; Indigo and Painted Buntings; Rose-breasted Grosbeaks; Wood and Swainson's Thrushes; and White-eyed, Warbling and Yellow-throated Vireos.

In the early afternoon we abandoned High Island and drove up to Anahuac NWR, where we did a quick tour of Shovelers Pond. We were hoping to see our first Purple Gallinule of the year and we were thrilled to see no fewer than seven of these beautiful birds.

We were also delighted to spot a Tricolored Heron looking magnificent in its breeding plumage.

On our last visit to Anahuac, I had been upset to see that the staff had put up strips of metal spikes to prevent swallows from nesting in the roof of the old visitor center. So on this visit I was delighted to see that a pair of Barn Swallows had outsmarted the staff by building a nest on one of the inside walls of the building. I hope other swallows follow their example! 

After leaving Anahuac, we headed back east along FM 1985. The trip took longer than expected because three cowboys were driving a herd of cattle along the road. Watching them keep the cattle moving made a nice change from birding.


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