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2021-04-08 SPI Birding & Nature Center

Prothonotary Warbler - Protonotaria citrea
This male warbler was having a field day with the tiny insects hiding in the grass stalks. With a momentary lull in warbler migration on South Padre Island, I paid my admission to the Birds and Nature Center to attempt catching subjects that don’t make many appearances at the Convention Centre.
Green Heron - Butorides virescens
Green Herons had pale blue eggs in their nests and were especially feisty.

I’ve made it no secret. My mission is to experience as much of the vernal migration through south Texas as I can. South Padre Island is the best place I know to meet these birds. It lies at the crossroads of their trip from Mexico, Central and South America, before they scatter with the winds that will carry them to the far reaches of North America to procreate.

I recently gave myself a guideline of a half-day limit on shooting pictures, so I can keep pace with an every-other-day shooting schedule. By using the time in-between shooting days to process images and tell my stories, experience has shown me this is possible. However, this past Thursday I broke with this pattern and shot an entire day. As expected, it cost me a skipped day in the field. The payoff for staying late was getting intimate shots of the male Prothonotary Warbler that eluded me on my past several visits to the island.

I started my day at the SPI Convention Centre, but a brief visit showed no new species for me to meet, and minimal opportunities with species whose acquaintance I’d already made. I’d not visited the Bird and Nature Center (SPIB&NC) facility next door since early February, and rumor had it there were worthwhile birds there to meet. Of particular interest to me were the reports of male Prothonotary Warblers that seemed missing from the Convention Centre.

Warbler migration at the SPIB&NC was slow as well, but I enjoyed several satisfying meetings. I had Prothonotary Warblers on my radar. They gave me distant views several times during the day, before finally providing me with a long, intimate encounter late in the afternoon. The bird’s close approach to the boardwalk allowed me to capture images as it feasted on the tiniest of insects, after ferreting them from hiding in the hollow stems of the dried marsh grass. And while I could not get a picture, a probable Yellow-Billed Cuckoo gave me a quick look before disappearing into the mangroves.

The usual marsh mix of shorebirds and waders foraged or rested on the mudflats near the boardwalk. In particular, a Roseate Spoonbill splashed and bathed only a few feet in front of me. I managed some closeup images with water flying everywhere. Green Herons are nesting within view of the boardwalk, and I could see pale blue eggs through the tangle of sticks they use for nidification (nest building).

I deleted some of the day’s subjects because I failed to capture their likeness to my satisfaction. The subjects I kept were Black-Bellied Whistling-Duck, Black-Necked Stilt, Double-Crested Cormorant, Great Blue Heron, Greater Yellowlegs, Green Heron, Laughing Gull, Lesser Yellowlegs, Little Blue Heron, Mottled Duck, Mullet (Fish), Osprey, Prothonotary Warbler, Roseate Spoonbill, Skink (Lizard), Tricolored Heron, White-Eyed Vireo, Willet, and Yellow-Crowned Night-Heron.

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