Saturday, May 21, 2016

Whistling Ducks

I haven't had any time for birding lately because we've been busy preparing our house for sale. However, on a recent visit to our doctor I managed to fit in a few minutes watching some Black-bellied Whistling Ducks preening behind the North Cypress Medical Center at Huffmeister and 290.

Preening starts off quietly with the careful re-arranging of a few ruffled feathers.

Then a quick splash to settle everything down.

Now it's time for some work on those harder-to-reach tail feathers.

This is followed by another quick splash.

Now it's time for the difficult part: Getting those wing feathers in order. 

There always seems to be one area that requires extra effort.

Now a really good, long splash is called for.

And the end result is a perfectly groomed Whistling Duck.


Monday, May 09, 2016

Migration nearer Home

Floods, work and preparations for selling our house have conspired to prevent us from doing another birding trip since our weekend visit to High Island, Bolivar and Galveston. So I've been restricted to occasional birding in our local area.

On a trip to apply for my first US passport I fitted in a half-hour of birding at Warren Ranch Lake, where the trees by the road had a few migrants.

Yellow-rumped Warblers were looking very spiffy in their breeding plumage. 

An Eastern Wood-Pewee was flycatching from a branch.

Nearby I spotted my first Ruby-throated Hummingbird of the year.

Some days later we made a brief visit to the Edith L Moore Nature Center. Apart from a couple of Swainson's Thrushes, the only migrant we saw was this beautiful Black-and-White Warbler.

Early May is usually a good time for spotting migrants on the CyFair campus and this year was no exception. During my final days of work at the college a few short walks around the nature trail turned up a nice selection of birds.

There were two vireo species: Red-eyed and Warbling.

Baltimore Orioles appeared on several different days.

Two Summer Tanagers turned up several days apart.

The seven warbler species I saw included a couple of Chestnut-sided Warblers.

On several days Magnolia Warblers flitted around the trail. 

American Redstarts also passed through on several days. 

I was disappointed to see only one Rose-breasted Grosbeak, and that a female.

However, my disappointment disappeared when a male Rose-breasted Grosbeak decided to make use of the suet feeder in our front yard. That was a nice addition to our list of yard birds!


Sunday, May 01, 2016

Looking for Migrants (4)

After leaving High Island, we drove west along Bolivar Peninsula to catch the ferry to Galveston.

As usual, the Bolivar harbor was busy with Cormorants, Laughing Gulls, American White Pelicans and Brown Pelicans (below).

Apart from the usual hordes of Laughing Gulls, on this trip the ferry was followed by numbers of Royal Terns.

There were other terns also. At first I thought these were Forster's but then I noted their yellow-tipped bills and realized they were Sandwich Terns.

Once on Galveston, we did a quick drive along Sportsmens' Road. My first Reddish Egret of the year was too distant to photograph but a Great Egret and a Great Blue Heron were a little closer.

The roadside ditches were empty except for a couple of Willets and the only other bird we saw was a solitary White Ibis.

Although I had high hopes for Lafitte's Cove, it turned out to have only a few resident birds and even fewer migrants. In fact, the only migrants we spotted were a Gray Catbird, a Gray-cheeked Thrush and two Scalret Tanagers (below).

As this was our last birding stop, it meant that our trip ended with a whimper rather than a bang. We weren't too disappointed, though, because overall the trip had been quite productive: We had seen 90 species, of which almost half were new birds for the year.