2021-04-18 SPI Sunday Bird Fallout, Round Two

Wood Thrush - Hylocichla mustelina
Unsatisfied with the images of this bird from Saturday, I liked these images much better. 
Scarlet Tanager - Piranga olivacea
This day provided me with brilliant looks at the Scarlet Tanagers. Sunday was the 2nd day of the great warbler fallout, but unlike Saturday’s expedition, the sun shone through to light her subjects.

Gone were the dense clouds and drizzling rain that plagued me early Saturday. The wind and the birds remained. There seemed to be even more birds on the island than yesterday. There were also more people.

My first stop on the island was a brief visit to the Sheepshead Bird Sanctuary, where I captured respectable images of the Kentucky Warbler foraging on the ground. From Sheepshead, I drove north to the Convention Centre. It was hoppin’. Birds and people were everywhere. There were even shorebirds sharing the lawns (Pectoral Sandpipers) with sparrows, buntings, thrushes, cowbirds, blackbirds, dickcissels, warblers and flycatchers.

With a pile of images from Saturday to process, and a story to write, I told myself I’d stay for only a couple of hours to work on those birds that eluded me the previous day. Ha! Who was I kidding? Five hours later, I was still there shooting away.

When I’m immersed in nature photography, I try to avoid crowds. But during a major bird fallout event, folks excited to experience the spectacle come from far and wide. Isolation is impossible. Most of the folks in attendance here were like-minded nature lovers, and conversations came easily. Most of them, like me, were wearing masks. There’s no way to be sure, but I suspect many of the non-maskers were vaccinated. I’m not, and I’ve been told by Cameron County staff here in south Texas, I won’t be able to get mine until I return to California. (Crazy, isn’t it!)

The majority of the warbler activity at the Convention Centre takes place on the lawns and trees near the primary facility. This is where most of the people gather to witness the warblers and other migratory species. While I too love the birds found there, I also like to walk out on the boardwalk called the Laguna Madre Nature Trail, and meet the resident birds that live there. Sometimes migrant shorebirds and passerines visit as well. There is a Honey Mesquite tree next to the boardwalk I’ve found quite productive. Sometimes warblers, thrushes, gnatcatchers, and vireos put on a show for the careful observer.

I executed my plan for gathering the images I missed on Saturday, but there were other encounters I’d not expected. When I finished my day’s shooting, I’d captured images of 27 species. The list included the following birds: American Redstart, Barn Swallow, Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher, Dickcissel, Eastern Wood-Pewee, Kentucky Warbler, Lark Sparrow, Least Bittern, Least Sandpiper, Mottled Duck, Northern Waterthrush, Ovenbird, Painted Bunting, Pectoral Sandpiper, Rose-Breasted Grosbeak, Scarlet Tanager, Semipalmated Plover, Sora, Swainson’s Thrush, Veery, Western Tanager, White-Eyed Vireo, Wilson’s Warbler, Wood Thrush, Yellow-Billed Cuckoo, Yellow-Headed Blackbird, Yellow-Throated Vireo, and Yellow Warbler. There were no first encounter species on the list, though I caught images of the Wood Thrush that I failed to get on Saturday. Fear not, my friends! I returned on Tuesday and met several new birds, but I’ll save that story for another chapter.

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