2021-03-16 SPI Convention Centre

Tricolored Heron - Egretta tricolor
This Tricolored Heron was quite bold and seemed to show off for the camera. My trip to South Padre Island this day started slowly, but picked up nicely before the day finished. The Convention Centre delivered wonderful birds, as it often will.
Black-and-White Warbler - Mniotilta varia
Some Black-and-White Warblers will spend winters on the Texas Gulf Coast.

On this early Tuesday morning, cloudy gray skies greeted me at the South Padre Island Convention Centre (SPICC). I investigated the center’s bayside and its boardwalks, but the birds were not active. It encouraged me to see offerings of nectar and fruit placed around the grounds, even though no migrants were in view. Having these offerings available seemed a good idea. When the migrating birds do show up, there will be food on hand to provide sustenance. Later I drove three miles south to the Sheepshead Preserve, but things weren’t any better there. As with the SPICC, volunteers here provided food for avian travellers if they show up.

I returned to the SPICC, made myself breakfast and watched the lawns and hedges while I ate my granola. While enjoying my morning meal, I saw a White Ibis family probing deep into the soft ground at the borders of the hedges. A mob of Savannah Sparrows gathered on the lawn, eating flower buds that grew among the grass blades. Black-and-White Warblers worked over the trunks and larger branches of the shade trees, clinging to the underside of horizontal branches in their nuthatch-like way. Clearly, the birds here were becoming more active.

During breakfast, Spring Breakers began filing in, reminding me the next two weeks here might be hectic. I knew I’d have plenty of company today, whether I liked it or not. The next two weeks here will be more of the same. I felt I should make the most of this day on SPI. The height of Spring migration here isn’t expected for another month. I think I might spend my time in the coming weeks at other locations in the Lower RGV, and return when the ratio of birds to Spring Breakers might favor the birds.

While roaming the grounds at the SPICC, birds weren’t the only subjects I found to entertain me. Reptiles and butterflies roamed the grounds and offered me occasional fleeting glimpses. My patient style of sit and wait photography had an unexpected benefit when a Mexican Racer (snake) slipped into a water feature for a drink. I was waiting on birds to photograph, but this fast-moving and elusive reptile added an unusual touch to my day.

As morning turned to afternoon, herons, rails, and skimmers patrolled the marsh and added moments of action to a day that began so slowly. Tuesday’s end concluded with a list of species I’d captured that included Black-and-White Warbler, Black-Necked Stilt, Black Skimmer, Brown Anole (Lizard), Caspian Tern, Common Gallinule, Cooper’s Hawk, Gray Catbird, Great Blue Heron, Green Heron, Gulf Fritillary (Butterfly), Laughing Gull, Lesser Yellowlegs, Mexican Racer (Snake), Savannah Sparrow, Short-Billed Dowitcher, Sora, Tricolored Heron, White Ibis, and Yellow-Rumped Warbler.

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