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Spring Blitz

Part 16:  Galveston Island (22-23 APR)

Decided to head on in to Galveston after that, and Joe was right:  it’s a long way to Bolivar flats!  I enjoyed watching a lady feed the gulls on the ferry, and once off I thought I’d check out this Corp Woods area.  Another lady I ran into said it was kinda quiet except for some Indigo Buntings, and she was right, but I did manage to pick up a pretty Yellow Warbler and a Wood Thrush that was singing tentatively, as well as a chickadee for the day!  An empid popped up that I couldn’t ID while looking at it, but looking at the pictures (none of which were fit for publication), I’m leaning towards Least, as it had a pretty bold eyering, a shortish tail, and not much of a primary projection.

It's easy to shoot Laughing Gulls in flight when they're being fed off the back of the ferry!

Corp Woods

With what time I had left, I decided to head straight for Lafitte’s Cove (after getting thoroughly lost; the guy at the BW admitted it’s easy to do), and that proved to be pretty productive!  On the way there spooked a Yellow-crowned Night Heron, and along the boardwalk trail were these obnoxious-sounding toads that I suspect are Narrow-mouthed (after going through all those frog calls trying to figure out what I had at Huntsville)!  A Summer Tanager blasted in and bullied a Mockingbird (!), and at the drip was a crowd of people, a few with Big Guns, but plenty of room on the benches, so I wiggled in and waited for the show.  As the guys were talking it became apparent that one of them was Greg Lavaty!  I found out he guides people and was very good at helping others (including me) get on some of the birds that came in!  At first about the only thing to show an interest in the drip was a female Tennessee Warbler (with all the flashes going off you woulda thought it was a Golden-winged or something, but when it’s the only game in town…), but a Painted Bunting sat in the shadows for awhile, and then the male Canada Warbler came in, which caused a lot of excitement!  A lovely Magnolia and a Black-throated Green also came in, but alas, I had to get going (supposedly a storm was coming in, but what looked nasty in the distance must have fizzled out), picking up yet another tentatively singing Wood Thrush (the Swainson’s was a little more robust…)!

Narrowmouth Toads on the Lafitte's Cove boardwalk

Tennessee Warbler that came in to the drip


Awful but identifiable shots of the Canada Warbler

Wood Thrush singing a tentative song

Found the Best Western, got some ice and snacks, and retired to catch up!  Almost broke 100 today, and actually, if I count that Least Flycatcher, that would make it 100 even!

Note to self:  next time stay at the La Quinta (or whichever hotel it is that’s closest to the cutover)!  That’s a long drive down Seawall (even early in the morning when there’s hardly any traffic)!  And skip Settigast Road – there really wasn’t anything new on that route (except a Summer Tanager on the wire), and I had to cut my time at the state park short in order to spend quality time at Dos Vacas (providing I could find it this time)!  But Sportsman Road was good (and always is):  it had good numbers of waders, and was even able to record some White Ibis fussing with each other and a spoonbill that was muttering to himself as he fed!  I was still surprised by the lack of Seaside Sparrows (although I may have heard one, but wasn’t sure), and only picked up two Clapper Rails, whereas last year they were very vocal!  I noticed they have No Parking signs down at the end now; last year I was able to park myself there predawn and watch stuff wake up!  (Maybe that’s why they put those signs up…)  Some Marbled Godwits were nice to see, and picked up Reddish Egret for the trip here, as hoped. 

8-Mile Road

Roseate Spoonbill along 8 Mile Road  (listen for the rough, gutteral sound; a Laughing Gull sounds off early on, and the peeping noises later are Blue-winged Teal)

White Ibis (almost drowned out by Laughing Gulls)

Black-necked Stilts

Well, I lied a little:  as I look at my list, Settigast did have the day’s only Sedge Wren, Bank Swallow, and Least Tern (along with someone’s pet Helmeted Guineafowl J)!  And while it wasn’t the only White-tailed Kite, a handsome bird posed for me at the end of the road!

Helmeted Guineafowl

Distant White-tailed Kite

Settigast Road

As expected, Lafitte’s Cove was the best place, even though it was rather quiet; a rail did a deep double note that I assume was King in this fresh water stuff, and a little White-eyed Vireo greeted me before the boardwalk.  Blue-winged Teal monopolized the ponds, and the Narrowmouth Toads were replaced by something else I didn’t recognize (they had all moved over to Brazoria NWR… J).  A pair of Orchard Orioles sat up nicely, along with a female Rose-breasted Grosbeak, and once again the Wood Thrush was singing tentatively from the woods!  As I approached the “T” in the sidewalk, I recalled that this was where the Kentucky Warbler popped up for me last year, and whaddaya know – in he zipped for the briefest of looks before darting away again!  Then there was a scuffle, and apparently someone trespassed on an Ovenbird’s turf, as he posed a little longer with his beak open!  The drip was really quiet (bird-wise, anyway – they were cutting up a tree that had fallen over):  another Magnolia Warbler finally showed itself, and the Swainson’s Thrush was still singing off to the side, but new for me was a Black-and-white Warbler that came in close!  Continuing on the trail I heard Hooded Warbler and Yellow-breasted Chat, along with flyover Dickcissels, and on the open grass trail a Baltimore Oriole came screaming into someone’s bottlebrush bush!  The trail was closed after the pond crossing due to flooding, but it was just as well as I was being eaten by mosquitoes, despite the Off wipes…  Took a quick peek at Lafitte's Grove across the street, but it was dead except for a grackle...

Lafitte's Cove


Blue-winged Teal

Lafitte's Grove

As mentioned, just made a quick run-through of the state park, where even before I reached the entrance kiosk there was a female Indigo Bunting and Blue Grosbeak in the field for good comparisons!  A beautiful male Rose-breasted Grosbeak posed on a wire while I was filling out my pass, and while pulling over about a half mile in I almost ran over a Sora that was feeding in the grass!  (The Sora fled, but the cowbird stayed put…)  The wetlands had the usual suspects, but a lone Greater Yellowlegs was good for the day, and down at the kayak launch a nice Black-throated Green Warbler responded to pishing!  There was also a little woodlot where a male Indigo Bunting posed.

Indigo Bunting

Around 11:00 I headed out, and Joe had told me to look for a blinking yellow light before getting to San Luis Pass, but I knew I had the wrong yellow light when I pulled into a development with a guard shack!  The kid was very nice, but miraculously just happened to be a birder and knew exactly where Dos Vacas was, and advised me to look for the dirt road (Seabird Drive) just before the next blinking yellow light, and was able to find the place fine!  I was the only one there, and again you needed your Off wipes!  Not surprisingly it was rather quiet as well, but I can see the potential:  they have two drips running, and have just built an observation blind looking into an open field.  While giving each drip 15 minutes, I had a definite Acadian Flycatcher come in, but also something that seemed to scream “Alder” to me as it looked so similar to the Alder I had at South Padre years ago that was so expertly discussed by so many people!  But apparently it’s also a bit early (I don’t know if the 23rd counts as “very late April” or not), and the thing didn’t talk, so it’s gonna hafta go down as “empid sp.”  A Red-eyed Vireo and a Yellowthroat came in to the more open drip, and on the way out a Lark Sparrow flushed from the road.

Click here to continue to Quintana Bird Sanctuary & Brazoria NWR

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