2021-04-22 SPI On A Slow Thursday

Mottled Duck - Anas fulvigula
Mother Duck was giving a tour of the grounds to her offspring. My stay at the Convention Centre was relatively brief this Thursday. There was a lull in the migration, but even on a slow day good things can occur here.
Dark-Eyed Junco - Junco hyemalis
This Oregon Dark-Eyed Junco wouldn’t get much notice out west, but here in Texas it was a celebrity. 

My stay at the Convention Centre was relatively brief this Thursday. There was a lull in the migration, but even on a slow day, good things can occur here. In the few short hours I spent at the Convention Centre, I met the American Redstart, Black-and-White Warbler, Black-Throated Green Warbler, Dark-Eyed Junco, Least Bittern, Mottled Duck, Northern Parula, Pectoral Sandpiper, Scarlet Tanager, Worm-Eating Warbler, Yellow Warbler. 

While I have your attention, I’d like to mention the 25th Annual Great Texas Birding Classic. My friend Luciano Guerra invited me to join his “Big Sit” team this Sunday. This is an honor I do not take lightly. When he’s not photographing and writing articles for his hometown newspaper in Mission, Texas (called the Progress Times), he devotes his energies to many worthy causes such as fundraising for scholarships. These days, he spends most of his time at The National Butterfly Center, as director of their “Educational Outreach” program, which is how I met him.

I left my base camp in Port Isabel Saturday morning and headed west. There was enough time in the day for a side trip, and I wanted to explore the beach at Boca Chica to find Sandwich Terns. They weren’t there on March 27th, when I last visited there, but a month had passed since then, and the birds were being seen for a couple of weeks in the region.

I reached the beach at 9:30am and rode out on my bike. I found a mixed flock of Royal and Sandwich Terns a short distance south from the beach access road, but I wanted to check out the Rio Grande River Mouth to see if there might be better photo-ops, and I peddled on for three more miles. When I reached the river mouth, there was very little of the bird activity I saw a month earlier. It made sense though; many of the players were by now immersed in the business of nesting. I rode back to the location I’d seen the mixed flock. The birds were still loafing near the gulf shore along a narrow strip of the beach, in a location where vehicle traffic and bipedal waders played. I managed a few long distance shots before oncoming traffic kicked up the flock and they flew away into the gulf. I’d hoped to get better images, but some things you just can’t control <sigh>. I rode north past the beach access road for several miles, hoping to meet another flock, but the tide was high and I realized there was little hope of spending quality time with these birds this day. I turned back and resumed my journey to Mission (Texas) and the National Butterfly Center. (I’ll tell you that story in my next episode.)

Click map markers to reveal further information