Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Texas: The Final Day

Wednesday April 30th was my last day for birding in Texas and I still had a couple of target birds I wanted to find, I did a little extra driving and headed east from Winnie to the small town of Anahuac.  Someone had suggested that Swallow-tailed Kites had frequented the area from time to time.  Well not this time, so I once again struck out on this bird and came home without this bird added to my list.  But while I was there and driving the streets, I did happen to find a pair of Purple Martins on a nest box built for them.  Not a bird that I see that often and although I prefer photos without man-made objects in them, I was happy to find them and add them to my Texas list.

Pair of Purple Martins with a neighboring House Sparrow

The rest of the day was spent by revisiting some of the places I had already been and first on the list was Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge.  It is one of those places that deserve a second visit and I have no regrets on the return visit as this time other birds showed themselves well and another critter was seen multiple times as well.  Fulvous and Black-bellied Whistling Ducks and Mottled Ducks are common in this location and I was able to find all 3 species with the Fulvous Whistling Duck and the Mottled Duck being a couple of life birds for me.  

 Black-bellied Whistling Ducks

 Fulvous Whistling Duck

Fulvous Whistling Duck

To many the Mottled Duck probably looks a lot like a female Mallard.  However, 2 key identification marks are the black spot at the gape of the bill and the absence of white feathers in the tail.

Mottled Duck

This day just happened to be the day of the Least Bittern.  I visually saw 4 of these elusive and secretive birds on this day and captured photos of 3 of them.

 Least Bittern - female

 Least Bittern - male

Least Bittern - female

An American Bittern was seen in the grass which is a bit uncharacteristic of this elusive bird.  Not sure if it thought it was invisible or not, but then once I got out of the car to snap photos it did not stick around very long and took flight in the opposite direction.

American Bittern

One of the biggest reasons to return to this place was because a rare bird had been reported here.  The Ruff is a Eurasian species that has a habit of showing up in the United States from time to time and this time one of them chose Texas and since I was in the neighborhood, I kind of thought it might be best to try and add it to my life bird list.  Surprisingly, when I arrived at the location that others had seen it, no one else was there and I was wondering if I would be able to pick it out.  Definitely was not a problem as it stood out from the rest of the 'peeps' in the shallow water.  Also had a couple of Stilt Sandpipers and a gorgeous female Wilson's Phalarope in the same pond.



 Stilt Sandpiper

Wilson's Phalarope - female

So many birds were present, some of them even common to Arizona.  Here are a few more photos of wading/water birds.

Green Heron

 Great Egret - note the bright green facial pattern, breeding plumage

Purple Galinule

On the way out, the Dickcissels were singing on both sides of the road and one male was quite content to let me capture a couple of photos even while a couple of Northern Bobwhite were calling nearby.


And of course another photo of my non-nemesis bird, the Common Nighthawk.  Just had to have my daily dose of this bird, but I am definitely not complaining!

Common Nighthawk

And just to prove that birds were not my only interest, I happened upon one of the area's most notable reptiles, the Alligator.  I actually found 3 of them on this day in this location and 3 more in another location later that afternoon.  I liked this pose the best.  


Once again I will have to complete one more blog post after this one to finish out my trip.  I ventured back to High Island to finish my final day and got some photos of one of my key target birds.



  1. Gordon I've enjoyed your posts from Texas, it looks like a very fun trip! Too bad you missed the Swallow-tailed Kite. But hey, at least you have another excuse to go back....

    1. Tommy,
      It was a great trip. STKI is probably a bit more common a bit further east and into FL. So guess it means another trip somewhere! Can't complain about that.

  2. Nice work with those shorebirds--especially the Ruff--and that Fulvous Whistling Dude.

    I've loved these posts Gordon and you've wracked 'em up out east!

    1. Laurence,
      Yes, I had a great trip and can't wait to see what you find on your trip. I have a feeling you will be seeing some different birds in different areas. Thanks!

  3. A fantastic group of birds here. The Swallowtail will happen......especially if you go to Florida:) You have lots of hard to capture birds here. This looks like a great place to bird for better observations on the normally elusive ones we only hear from the reeds:)

    1. Chris,
      Great birding all year in this location, but spring is probably the best due to migration. And yes, the STKI will be mine some day! Thanks