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Spring Blitz

Part 18:  Guadalupe Delta WMA & the Weekend at Port Lavaca (with a visit to the Magic Ridge area, 24-27 APR)

Headed to Port Lavaca after that and went straight to River Road, and it is indeed a promising-looking road, only it’s an “Old Port Isabel” style road, and I actually had to turn back at about the four-mile mark (and it looked like it went into private property down the road anyway).  But part of it is actually in the Guadalupe Delta WMA, so it’s nice to know that there’s a section you can actually access!  The wind was really picking up by the time I scouted, but I could tell I’m nearing home as a Kiskadee sounded off in the woodland!  Added a handful of things for the day (including Bank Swallows overhead), but a Swainson’s Hawk circling overhead was a nice end to the day!

Habitat along River Road, which goes through part of the Guadalupe Delta WMA

Like many dirt roads in Texas, they're fine when dry but can get a little dicey when wet!

Scene near the end of the road (or as far as I went, anyway...)

       

Swainson's Hawk

Headed back to the BW, and after I checked in and found a parking spot, I took a double take at the SUV next to me because it had a Vietnam Vet sticker, then I saw Boggus Ford Harlingen, and thought, “Is that Norma’s car?!”  So I called her and asked her if she was in Port Lavaca – yes!  At the Best Western?  Yes!  She almost died when I told her I just happened to park next to her!  So after unloading everything I went to say hi (she was right under me, actually, so I promised not to jump around J), and they were here to see one of their granddaughters before heading up to Tyler for a grand-niece’s wedding!  What a hoot!

Woke up at 6:30, so after the morning routine headed to the elevator for breakfast and a Texas-shaped waffle et al.  Next was laundry, and like the last place, the dryer wasn’t all that great, but at least some things were dry, and the Lord reminded me that I could always just lay things out to dry like I do at home (I’ll be here two days, after all), so that’s what I did.  This C.S. Lewis book is turning into a real nail-biter, but he makes some interesting points that make you think:  the main character is a guy who likes to be liked, and it’s gotten him into a real bad situation.  That’s a red flag with those who do like to be liked:  don’t seek someone’s approval so strongly that you wind up more anxious to please them than to please God!  Regardless of your personality, sometimes God calls you to do the courageous thing, even if you’re shaking in your booties!

It was raining by the time I finished that, so I gave it a half hour while working on the pictures, then headed to the HEB.  Decided to get a rotisserie chicken for lunch, and was able to find pretty much everything I needed, then swung by the Wal-Mart for the Off wipes (miraculously they had them) and a replacement walking stick (thankfully they had singles – when I got that first one you had to buy them as a set of two), which was very reasonable. 

Seeing it was past 11:00, I decided to swing by the DQ after all for a blizzard, only their ice cream machine was frozen!  (How’s that for irony??)  So she directed me to another one, only I got turned around, which was okay as I wanted to explore anyway.  Eventually I did find it and tried their Waffle Blizzard Treat, which was quite good!  It turned out to be a beautiful sunny day, so after I finished that I went to the bird sanctuary and took a walk; Clapper Rails were sounding off all over, but there were more people than birds, and as I was telling the maid later, I felt warm all over watching the families and kids play on the beach!  The sidewalk passed under some trees where a Black-and-white Warbler came so close I thought he was gonna land on me!  Needed the bins for the Tennessee Warbler, however… J

Headed home and spent the rest of the afternoon working on pictures and chatting with the maid, who was from Edinburg originally!  At 5:00 headed to the seafood restaurant across the street; the menu advertised a ribeye steak and shrimp, and the gals at the front desk confirmed that that was the only place they knew of that had steak, so I gave it a shot.  At first I was dubious, because it looked like one of those casual “greasy spoon” joints at first, but their food was actually quite good!  I had to try their frog legs, so she gave them to me as an appetizer, and then had the “raw” ribeye and shrimp plate which came with a salad and baked potato, and also some pretty tasty veggies!  The steak was great:  they cooked it to order, and it didn’t even need any salt! 

Click here and scroll down for the sermon notes from church!

Headed to River Road Monday morning, and it was quite foggy and sultry; Cardinals, Mockers, and Carolina Wrens were the main songsters at first, but then I heard a woodpecker “song” with a rather flat tone, and figured I must be back in Golden-fronted country!  But later on I heard the more musical, two-toned “song” of a Red-bellied, and wondered if I was losing my mind!  Nope – according to the TOS Handbook, they both occur here!  And what really threw me was the accelerating laugh of a Pileated Woodpecker!  Come to find out that a few do occur in this part of the Guadalupe River Delta (it was even on the EBird list)!

There are a couple of river accesses, but lemme tell ya, you donated two gallons of blood to check it out! L  I must have gone through six of those Off wipes; they work for awhile, but after the “juice” evaporates (or whatever), the beasties are back on ya!  Got a Green Heron out of it, and a great look at a chickadee (sad to think that I’ll be out of their territory soon)!

Muddy, foggy view of the Guadalupe River

Back on dicey River Road!

Swallows were all over the place, of course; unless they were calling, it was hard to ID some of them against the backlight, but on the way out several of them sat on a wire, and the photos revealed mostly Barn, but also a few Bank and Cliff (had Roughwings, but not on the wire), but what surprised me was a Tree that I hadn’t noticed!  Add one to the list total! J

A four-swallow wire (L-R:  Barn, Cliff, Bank, and Tree)

Cliff Swallow, showing the pale "headlights"

Preening Barn Swallow on the left shows how pretty their forked tail really is!  (Bank Swallow on the right...)

At one point a feral hog bolted across the road right about where I needed to stop, and as I was listening I heard some grunting off to the side, so I was hoping I wouldn’t get charged or something!  Two Brahma cows with a calf were in the road, and on the way back they had been joined by a bunch of Cattle Egrets!  Was pleased to hear several Yellow-billed Cuckoos singing, as I was dubious about that one up in the Pineywoods (but at the same time, I don’t know what else would have been making a sound like that)!  We’re also back into Brown-crested Flycatcher country, and Painted Buntings were singing and showing themselves nicely (one was even singing while sitting in the middle of the road)!  Only a few migrant songbirds showed themselves (a single Indigo Bunting and Blue Grosbeak, Yellow and Nashville Warblers, some Baltimore Orioles and Catbirds, and a couple of Black-and-white Warblers), but out in the open area added a whole new set of birds, including Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, Eastern Meadowlarks, Upland Sandpipers overhead, some cormorants and a whistling duck, and best of all, a big flock of Franklin’s Gulls!  They were so pretty with their white “bracelets” and pink breasts!

Brahmas with friends...

   

Close-ups of one of the Cattle Egrets in breeding plumage

Franklin's Gulls

An Osprey was trying to eat breakfast as I approached, but I got distracted by a little brown bird that shot into the bush, which turned out to be a Vesper Sparrow!  I would have thought they’d be long gone by now!  The Dickcissels that had been flying over earlier with their brat calls were now sitting up singing, and just before hitting the highway was a wetland with a bunch of yellowlegs, a stilt, a Solitary Sandpiper, a Tricolored Heron, and some White Ibis!

       

Osprey tries to eat his breakfast while keeping an eye on the photographer...

       

Vesper Sparrow along the road (middle pictures shows the diagnostic white outer tail feathers)

That didn’t take me all morning, so I decided to check out Magnolia Beach and Magic Ridge.  The beach had some nice birds for the day, including what I’m assuming was a really ratty-looking first-year Herring Gull unless someone wants to try and turn it into a Lesser Black-backed! J  A Reddish Egret was a nice addition, but there weren’t many shorebirds besides turnstones and Sanderlings.  Over at Magic Ridge there was a little more action, with both Baltimore and Orchard Orioles, a female Scarlet Tanager, several more buntings (mainly Indigo), a brief look at a Magnolia Warbler, and a Curve-billed Thrasher singing his heart out!  (In perusing the TOS Handbook I’m noticing that a lot of these things are on the very edge of their range here…)  Over on the other side where the observation deck is, two Lincoln’s Sparrows popped up to pishing.

   

Ruddy Turnstone at Magnolia Beach

   

Ratty 1st-year Herring Gull (until proven otherwise...)

    

Reddish Egret

Magic Ridge Official Greeter (Collared Dove)

View of the marsh from the access road

Looking back along the road

View from near the end of the road

Where the migrants would hide...

   

Baltimore Oriole (not quite so bright male at left, darker female on right)

Female Scarlet Tanager

Brown-crested Flycatcher

View from the overlook on the bay side

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