Monday, May 12, 2014
Texas: Bolivar Flats Bird Sanctuary
After spending most of the morning at Anahuac NWR, on April 29, my next destination was the Bolivar Flats Bird Sanctuary near the tip of the Bolivar Peninsula. Another great place for birding, but a notice to anyone planning a visit to this beach area; wear long sleeve shirts and pants, no shorts. Or maybe make sure you have insect repellent applied as there are some large flies there that can really bite and leave a welt. I learned the hard way, but the birds were worth it.
This is a great place to see lots of shorebirds, along with gulls and terns. One of my target birds was the Piping Plover, a bird that is listed by IUCN, (International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources) as 'near-threatened'. Its breeding habitat is also popular with humans making its breeding efforts vulnerable. Not only did I find this marvelous bird, but I found 6 of them!
Piping Plover - there are 4 of them in this photo
Dunlin, Semipalmated Sandpipers and Wilson's Plovers were fairly common and could be seen running up and down the beaches.
Least Terns and Black Terns were also very common and the Least Terns were putting on a show with a male courting the female by offering her a small fish.
Black Tern and Least Tern
This spot is also a great spot for Reddish Egrets which is a species that I have seen in Arizona (rare) and also in Puerto Penasco, Mexico. And I could see one far off in the distance, but upon closer inspection I found one a bit closer, but did not look quite like the normal bird that I have seen. This one happened to be a much more uncommon color phase, the White-morph. The distinctive bi-colored bill is the key field mark of all Reddish Egrets and helps to identify this bird and assure it is not a Snowy Egret or a juvenile Little Blue Heron.
White-morph Reddish Egret
One other bird of note was a fly-over by a Peregrine Falcon which looked a little out of place along a sandy shoreline.
After leaving this area I headed back and made a couple of stops along the way, including Roller Over Bridge. This time and without extra people I was able to capture a couple extra photos of birds that I was not able to obtain with the group that I had the day before.
Laughing Gull, Black Skimmer, Caspian, Royal and Forster's Terns
At another stop, a Willet was more than obliging for some photos. This bird was very common just about any location where there was water. The Willets in Texas have more of a brownish color than those in the west that tend to be gray. They may appear to be a boring bird in the coloration department, but once they take flight, they are quite striking in appearance. Just goes to show what is sometimes hidden in those wings.
And the final bird? Yes, another Common Nighthawk that landed in front of my car on a gravel road.
Day 3 comes to a close with an abundance of great birds and with one day left, I had to plan my time well to see what else I could add to my list of wonderful birds in Texas.