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Spring Blitz

Part 21:  Corpus Christi Area  (29-30 APR)

Shoreline Drive

Headed on down to Corpus and Packery Channel after lunch, where I had heard a Townsend’s Warbler was hanging out.  The report mentioned Sand Dollar Road, so I found that, and discovered the Oak Motte sanctuary!  (I think Judy Kestner said it was called “Leah’s Pond” or something like that…)  Anyway, pulling up to the parking area, a lady informed me she had a Lazuli Bunting among other things!  Had a ton of Indigos there (along with orioles of both flavors and hummers attacking the coral bean and oranges), but no Lazuli.  Ran into a young man who encouraged me to walk the length of San Dollar to look for the Townsend’s Warbler, and in the process the Lazuli popped up in the yard with the feeders!  At least that's what I thought it was:  the lighting wasn’t the best, and I thought it was a male at first, but the (lousy) pictures imply a young male, as you can make out the bold white wing bar.  But as I stare at the pictures, can I really rule out a basic-plumaged American Goldfinch??  I could have sworn I saw blue when I first saw the bird (and it looked much bigger than a goldfinch), but you know how your mind can play tricks on you when you're looking for a reported rarity!  Ran into several birders (including a guy named Kevin and a young companion who were working on getting over 100 for the day – I told them they shouldn’t have a problem J), and we perused the neighborhood; the gentleman who owned the property where the Townsend’s had been very graciously invited us right into his yard while he worked on his homemade slide!  I thought that was pretty neat!


Male (left) and female Indigo Buntings at Packery Channel's Oak Motte Sanctuary.  Some female Indigos can show faint wingbars, like this bird, but Indigos will always have some streaking on the breast, which Lazulis won't have.


What do you think?  Lazuli Bunting, or wishful thinking??


Curious female Rose-breasted Grosbeak

Female Baltimore Oriole


Male (left) and female Orchard Orioles

There was a report of an ani, so Kevin and his buddy set out for that, and I intended to go to the other little boardwalk, but ended up on the same road Kevin was on; he thought he did hear it, but most of us couldn’t refind it.  I then went to the other boardwalk, was chagrined that their restroom wasn’t open, but hiked it anyway, only picking up a few orioles, I think.

After that I headed over to Padre Island; only had enough time to cruise the “free access” beach, which nevertheless had nice shorebirds and larids to shoot, including Piping Plover and mating Gull-billed Terns.  Found the lovely Best Western on Shoreline just fine, and they put me on the 9th floor with an incredible view!  I stood out on the balcony just enjoying the waterfront and saying, “You know, Lord, if You want me to move to Corpus, I could live here!” 


Least Tern at Padre Island National Seashore


Two beat-up Piping Plovers still in non-breeding plumage, while the bird in flight is in full breeding plumage.


Black-bellied Plovers; the bird on the far left is in transitional plumage.

Picturesque log with two Ruddy Turnstones and a Sanderling


Sanderling in breeding (left) and non-breeding plumages

Royal Terns

Sandwich Tern

Gull-billed Tern


Great Blue Heron sees the car and decides to take off down the beach!




But plans were possibly up in the air:  I got a text message reporting a Slate-throated Redstart on South Padre!  So I texted both Judy and Clay just in case they had gotten the same news, and basically freed them up from feeling they had to play tour guide in case they wanted to chase it!  Clay was tied up in the morning after all, so he couldn’t even come out, and Judy was heading to the TOS meeting in Winnie that afternoon, so she was still free to play guide but not to chase the redstart!  So we made plans to do Blucher Park for a couple of hours, after which I myself would be free to chase the redstart if I wanted, so I called my friend Pat and got the scoop; bottom line, our Saturday trip to the Island was still on, but Judy and I ended up spending pretty much the whole morning doing urban Corpus, so she would have time to clean up and head for Winnie. 

Oh, I can’t forget about the Best Western's lounge on the 11th floor – holy socks!!  This had windows all around, and they had a few food items, so I asked him if he could prepare some wings for me that didn’t have any sauce at all, and they were wonderful!!!  And the shoestring fries were just like the ones we'd get as kids at Chicken in the Rough back in Michigan!  Wow!!  What a treat!

So that was that.  I checked out next morning, met Judy outside, and headed over to Blucher.  And what a beautiful place –I expected a more open city park with tall trees, yes, but nothing like this totally forested area with little trails weaving in and out!  And who should we run into but the young man I encountered yesterday, whose name was Mark!  He had seen all sorts of warblers already, and almost immediately we flushed a Chuck-will’s-widow!  A Long-billed Thrasher was singing right out in the open and would be serenading us almost the whole time!  So the three of us hung around, and separated, and met up again, and during the course of the time there we encountered many Black-and-whites, Black-throated Greens, Tennessees, Catbirds, and buntings of both types, and singletons of Canada, Chestnut-sided, Magnolia, Chat, Northern Parula, Wilson’s, Restart, and Yellow Warblers.  Early on a Bell’s Vireo shot through and sang a little song, which was pretty nice of him to do!  We also had a Philadelphia Vireo singing a little before he showed himself.  But the star of the show was a female Golden-winged Warbler behind the Nature Conservancy house! 

Mark checks out the warblers at Blucher Park

Tennessee Warbler

Long-billed Thrasher that was serenading us

Shy Yellow-breasted Chat

Even shier female Painted Bunting

A Canada Warbler tunes up for the real thing when he gets home!

The Nature Conservancy office

Next stop was Rosehill Cemetery, and things were quieting down by then.  But we did manage to run into a little flock which contained more Black-throated Greens, but also a Blue-headed Vireo had me fooled into thinking it was another Philly (the voice, that is), then Judy found the star of that place:  a brilliant Blackburnian Warbler, which I needed for the trip!  Woo hoo!

Rosehill Cemetery

From there she offered to get me a real easy trip bird, so we went over to the Catholic Diocese for the nesting Monk Parakeets (I thought that was appropriate J)!  We picked up an incongruous Roadrunner on the way out, then checked out Tule Lake since it was close.  We added a few nice things for the day, including Sedge Wren, Swainson’s Hawk, White Pelican, Black-bellied Plover, Least Tern, and Whimbrel.  This place was famous for its nesting Barn Swallows, but the water was too high for many shorebirds.

Monk Parakeet at the Catholic Diocese

Tule Lake

It was getting close to 11:00, so I offered to call it a day, and she dropped me off at the BW after a wonderful morning! 

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