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2021-04-04 Continuing the SPI Saga

Mottled Duck - Anas fulvigula
Up close and personal. April on South Padre Island provides me with close encounters like no other place I’ve ever visited. By most experienced birders here, it will only get better in the coming weeks.
Brown Anole - Anolis sagrei
Had it not been for the throat fan display (called a dewlap), I might have passed on shooting this Anole. 

The early spring migration season on South Padre Island has been exciting for me. I’m finding one or more new bird species with each visit. The privilege of witnessing so many species passing through isn’t lost on me. Were it not for the work required to process the images, I would happily pay daily visits here. I’ve found on average, every hour in the field taking pictures (fun), requires two hours at the computer (work). By limiting my time here to half-day affairs, I can keep the workload more manageable. My Friday and Sunday session each lasted 4½ hours. In that space of time, I’m able to collect ample images for weaving a story, and I’m still able to present my account on this blog the following day. I’ve paid the price when I’ve given in to the impulse to continue capturing images from early morning until day’s end. I’ve found it becomes a daunting task to process them and weave my narrative. Then the work outweighs the fun.

There is an aspect to my adventures on SPI that surprised me. Most of the time when I pursue bird images, I am isolated. I’m able to immerse myself in the act of capturing pictures. On South Padre, isolation is not an option, it is a Mecca for many birders and bird photographers. My surprise is how much I’ve enjoyed meeting these folks and sharing our stories. We all share a common love of nature. I now embrace the inevitable conversations I used to try so hard to avoid. This shift in my point of view gives me a richer experience, while still enjoying my time with the birds. I think there’s something about Texas that has given me a fresh perspective. I should point out that mask-wearing and social distancing is the norm for me.

Being Easter Sunday, I wasn’t sure what the crowds on the island would be like. My first stop was at the Sheepshead Bird Sanctuary, where I found many visitors enjoying the birds. However, I didn’t see any birds I’d not seen on Friday. The lighting (or lack thereof) on the south lot makes it difficult to capture images. Lighting on the north lot is better, but I found the birds scarce. So I continued north on the island where I thought I’d give the SPI Birding and Nature Center a try. However, they were closed for Easter. No worries! The SPI Convention Centre is right next door.

I was not alone in my interest in Easter birding at the SPI-CC. There were several dozen nature lovers there on my arrival. But as I stated above, this is not necessarily a bad thing. I carried my gear out to meet the day, where I found birds I’d recently met, some I’d met last year, and some, like the Prothonotary Warbler for the first time. When I finished for the day, I’d captured images of a Brown Anole (Lizard), Hooded Orioles, Hooded Warblers, a Mottled Duck, Orchard Orioles, Ovenbirds, a Prothonotary Warbler, Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds, White-Eyed Vireos, White Ibis, Worm-Eating Warblers, and Yellow-Rumped Warblers.

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