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Rockport Area, Texas

Part 2:  Magic Ridge to Aransas NWR

I was gratified to hear the Clapper Rails going at it when I walked out to my car this morning!  Headed down to Magic Ridge first thing, and it was great to get there at first light and with no wind!  Dickey birds were easier to call up now, as Lincoln's and Swamp Sparrows joined the Savannahs.  There weren't a whole lot of shorebirds and waders in the eastern wetlands like yesterday (a calling Long-billed Dowitcher flew by, making me think that perhaps that's what I had yesterday as opposed to Short-billed), but there's a wider wetland off to the west where Sandhill Cranes, Snow and White-fronted Geese, and Avocets all gave distant views, but their calls filled the morning air!  According to the GTWT map, Long-billed Thrashers get up this far, and I indeed heard the duit call coming from the scrub, and later heard what I presume was the same bird singing.  Just before leaving, a pair of Hooded Mergansers zipped in and landed in the marsh, promptly disappearing in the reeds!

Magic Ridge wetlands at first light

Savannah Sparrows

   

Eastern Phoebe with breakfast (ID challenge:  what's the dragonfly?)

  Two birds song-battling

Common Green Darner; the bull's-eye on the "nose" is diagnostic

Headed straight into Indianola from there and Powderhorn Lake, where there were several Sedge Wrens calling at several stops, one giving a brief glimpse.  A Reddish Egret in the wetlands was new for the trip.  Over by the bay a couple flocks of Lesser Scaup flew overhead, and heading up Ocean Drive I was treated to a roadside Oystercatcher and Common Loon!  Just before getting into the residential area is a little boardwalk going into the wetland (you can see the Zimmerman Road cemetery across the way) where both flavors of night heron stood stoically.  

   

Lesser Scaup flock

Reddish Egret

Eastern Phoebe at the cemetery

Loggerhead Shrike

   

American Oystercatcher

Magic Ridge wetlands from the east side (you can see the Zimmerman Road cemetery across the way)

Both types of night herons in the marsh

Forster's Tern feeding overhead

   

Sanderling (left) and Common Loon (right) along the coast

The Map also suggests visiting Seadrift, so I headed that way and ended up in a new development looking for Swan Point; when I finally found the CTC site it was actually RW Bill Sanders Memorial Park.  A swan-like White Pelican floated by (I guess "Swan Point" is more picturesque-sounding than "Pelican Point"), and the Browns gave great photo ops, but there weren't any unusual ducks in the bay.  From there they suggest you peruse the bayfront in Seadrift itself, so I did, and picked up both Boat-tailed and Common Grackle for the trip, but not much else (except an Inca Dove in the RV park). 

   

Two views from Swan Point (aka Bill Sanders Memorial Park)

       

Long-billed Curlew in the surrounding lawn area

White Pelican

   

Forster's Terns

   

Brown Pelicans

   

Great Blue Heron (left) and Herring Gull (right) along the Seadrift bayfront

 A brief stop at the observation platform at Guadeloupe WMA yielded a couple of Black Vultures only, so from there headed south to reconnaissance Aransas NWR for tomorrow.  The gal in the visitor's center told me which trails would be safest with my bum foot, so I gingerly poked along ten minutes' worth of the Rail Trail and the Heron Flats Trail after picking up their Kiskadees!  Didn't have many birds at either spot, but the Rail Trail had these interesting grasshoppers that were greenish-yellow with three broad black bands around each leg!  All the Panoquin butterflies seemed to be in this one purple bush along the Heron Flats Trail (just had Ocola and Obscure--that's one's for you, John! ), along with this incredible fuzzy caterpillar that was chowing down on said bush!  Also had Turk's-cap White Skipper, Orange Sulphur, and a Phaon Crescent along here.  

Melonworm Moth caught by a Crab Spider

Phaon Crescent

Ocola Skipper

Rail Trail

Female (or young male?) Eastern Pondhawk

Mystery grasshopper with strongly-banded legs

Observation deck along the Heron Flats Trail

View from the observation deck

Orange Sulphur

Turk's-cap White Skipper

   

Obscure Skippers

   

Salt-marsh Moth caterpillar (left) and Twin-shielded Leaf Beetle (right)

Immature White Ibis (token bird)

Jones Lake was full of water this time (it was bone dry the last time I was here), and added Coot and Moorhen to the trip list, along with a few ducks.  I was just about to leave when a familiar nasal trumpet split the air, announcing the presence of a pair of Least Grebes!  That sure was special this far north!  

Jones Lake

Lousy shot of a somewhat rare bird this far north:  Least Grebe!

Dragged myself up the observation tower (although I admit the exercise felt good), and while there were no Whoopers, it was still a great view as always (along with the nice breeze)!  Joined a transplanted Brit from Houston on the boardwalk as we enjoyed the mob of Pintail out in the bay, that also had a few Gadwall and Redheads in with them.  Several Royal and Forster's Terns batted about as well.  

View of Aransas Bay from the observation tower

Bayside Boardwalk

Whizzed through the tour route as I had to get back to Port Lavaca; an Osprey and a sluggish Armadillo were the only critters of note.  Doing up the bird list I noticed that we're at an even 100 for the trip so far!

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