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2012 Big Year - January

January 15 - Goose Island & Port Aransas

A business trip to Corpus Christi allowed me to do some birding in an area I rarely visit, so I headed up Sunday morning, adding several Valley specialties to the day list while packing the car (the Green Parakeets I added earlier in the week as a flock screeched by outside my house).  Had a couple of suspected Ferruginous Hawks going up US 281 and then across "Hawk Alley" (SR 285) to Riviera, but I wasn't in a position to stop, unfortunately...  One of the many Redtails looked like a good Krider's as it was with a normal morph bird.  A flock of Sandhill Cranes along SR 285 was definitely new for the year!

Stopped at the hotel first to record the mileage, then headed over the bridge (which reminded me of the Blue Water Bridge to Canada back home in Michigan) and up to Goose Island State Park in hopes of bagging a Whooping Crane, since I have gotten them there before.  A Sunday afternoon probably wasn't the best time to try that, as cars were crawling all over Lamar, but there was a nice selection of shorebirds, including many Long-billed Dowitchers and a Long-billed Curlew.  A Roseate Spoonbill got a guy with a camera out of his car, and the little marsh on the corner had several ducks; mainly Pintail and Redhead, but also some token teal.  Best bird there was a female Vermilion Flycatcher and a Green Heron.  A flock of icterids included a few Brown-headed Cowbirds.

Northern Pintail at the "corner pond" in Lamar

First-year Herring Gull at the same spot

Female Vermilion Flycatcher

Two Greater Yellowlegs with a much smaller Lesser Yellowlegs on the right

Headed into the state park proper after that, heading straight down to the little pier, which is where I had Whoopers before.  No such luck this time (lots of pelicans of both flavors, though), but the best birds in the bay were definitely ones that I probably wouldn't pick up in the Valley:  two Common Goldeneye!  The "camping finger" that hugs a marsh had a new boardwalk installed since I was there last, where there were several more shorebirds including a handful of Semipalmated Plovers.  Back at the bridge, there were at least 40 Black-crowned Night Herons all scattered around!


The bird of the day was this Common Goldeneye!

Mob of Black-crowned Night Herons at the little bridge near the boat ramp

Brown Pelicans checking things out from the lamp post

Wrapped up there and headed back to Port Aransas, once again getting turned around getting off the ferry! :-P  However, I immediately saw a sign for Charlie's Pasture, which I think was also new since I was there last.  They have some great trails, boardwalks, and observation decks there, but it was relatively birdless when I hiked it! :-(  Highlights, however, included a pair of Field Sparrows at the trailhead, and a pair of White-tailed Hawks on a platform.  While resting at one of the decks a Peregrine came screaming by, running off an interloper!

Squadron of White Ibis at Charlie's Pasture

Couldn't find Paradise Pond, but I did manage to stumble upon the Birding Center at the wastewater plant; this was a delightful little fresh water marsh with oodles of ducks that were so used to people that they snoozed only feet away!  A calling Yellowthroat was the only new bird for the day, but it was wonderful getting point blank looks at Green-winged Teal and Shovelers, among other ducks!


Green-winged Teal, snoozing and non-snoozing poses...

Male Northern Shoveler coming out of eclipse plumage

Neotropic Cormorants, with more teal in the background

It was time to head back to the hotel after that.  Oh, and an update:  our mystery gull was indeed a 1st-year Herring, so strike the California (I found out later that the reported bird was an adult)...

Bird List (new year birds are in CAPS):

  American Wigeon                       Anas americana

  Mottled Duck                          Anas fulvigula

  Blue-winged Teal                      Anas discors

  Northern Shoveler                     Anas clypeata

  Northern Pintail                      Anas acuta

  Green-winged Teal                     Anas crecca

  Redhead                               Aythya americana

  Lesser Scaup                          Aythya affinis

  COMMON GOLDENEYE                        Bucephala clangula

  Pied-billed Grebe                     Podilymbus podiceps

  Neotropic Cormorant                   Phalacrocorax brasilianus

  Double-crested Cormorant              Phalacrocorax auritus

  American White Pelican                Pelecanus erythrorhynchos

  Brown Pelican                         Pelecanus occidentalis

  Great Blue Heron                      Ardea herodias

  Great Egret                           Ardea alba

  Snowy Egret                           Egretta thula

  Little Blue Heron                     Egretta caerulea

  Reddish Egret                         Egretta rufescens

  GREEN HERON                             Butorides virescens

  Black-crowned Night-Heron             Nycticorax nycticorax

  White Ibis                            Eudocimus albus

  Roseate Spoonbill                     Platalea ajaja

  Black Vulture                         Coragyps atratus

  Turkey Vulture                        Cathartes aura

  Osprey                                Pandion haliaetus

  Northern Harrier                      Circus cyaneus

  Harris's Hawk                         Parabuteo unicinctus

  White-tailed Hawk                     Buteo albicaudatus

  Red-tailed Hawk                       Buteo jamaicensis

  Crested Caracara                      Caracara cheriway

  American Kestrel                      Falco sparverius

  Peregrine Falcon                      Falco peregrinus

  American Coot                         Fulica americana

  SANDHILL CRANE                          Grus canadensis

  Black-bellied Plover                  Pluvialis squatarola

  SEMIPALMATED PLOVER                     Charadrius semipalmatus

  Killdeer                              Charadrius vociferus

  American Oystercatcher                Haematopus palliatus

  Greater Yellowlegs                    Tringa melanoleuca

  Willet                                Tringa semipalmata

  Lesser Yellowlegs                     Tringa flavipes

  LONG-BILLED CURLEW                      Numenius americanus

  Least Sandpiper                       Calidris minutilla

  Dunlin                                Calidris alpina

  LONG-BILLED DOWITCHER             Limnodromus scolopaceus

  Laughing Gull                         Leucophaeus atricilla

  Ring-billed Gull                      Larus delawarensis

  Herring Gull                          Larus argentatus

  Royal Tern                            Thalasseus maximus

  Black Skimmer                         Rynchops niger

  Rock Pigeon                           Columba livia

  Eurasian Collared-Dove                Streptopelia decaocto

  Mourning Dove                         Zenaida macroura

  GREEN PARAKEET                          Aratinga holochlora

  Buff-bellied Hummingbird              Amazilia yucatanensis

  Golden-fronted Woodpecker             Melanerpes aurifrons

  Ladder-backed Woodpecker              Picoides scalaris

  Eastern Phoebe                        Sayornis phoebe

  Vermilion Flycatcher                  Pyrocephalus rubinus

  Great Kiskadee                        Pitangus sulphuratus

  Loggerhead Shrike                     Lanius ludovicianus

  Green Jay                             Cyanocorax yncas

  Ruby-crowned Kinglet                  Regulus calendula

  Northern Mockingbird                  Mimus polyglottos

  European Starling                     Sturnus vulgaris

  Orange-crowned Warbler                Oreothlypis celata

  Common Yellowthroat                   Geothlypis trichas

  Yellow-rumped Warbler                 Setophaga coronata

  Field Sparrow                         Spizella pusilla

  Savannah Sparrow                      Passerculus sandwichensis

  Northern Cardinal                     Cardinalis cardinalis

  Red-winged Blackbird                  Agelaius phoeniceus

  Western Meadowlark                    Sturnella neglecta

  Great-tailed Grackle                  Quiscalus mexicanus

  BROWN-HEADED COWBIRD                    Molothrus ater

  House Sparrow                         Passer domesticus



So far:  157 SPECIES

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