Monday, August 8, 2016

Shore Birds at Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge, Tx

It's start of return migration for shorebirds and there is already slow influx of shorebirds here. Thankfully forum members at Audobon dallas site keep posting the sightings and that helped me to finally go out for birding. It's been more than 3 months now since I went out for birding, I guess the last time was for seeing the spring migration at High Island. Combination of work, Texas heat and laziness too kept me away from birds for a while :-) Now since the fall migration starts, I have start going out more. Have a trip to Boston this month, I hope to get atleast 1 morning for birding. Would like to see Boston specialties atleast Black-capped chickadee :-)

I wanted to see Mississippi Kite and other shore birds at the refuge. Thanks to Chuck who helped me shortlisting the spots to visit the places in the refuge. And I was able to see the Kite at exactly the spot where he mentioned I would see this bird :-)

The shorebirds are not in huge numbers but you can still see different birds spread in pockets around the refuge. It was a challenge to bird in the heat but since most of the refuge is accessible by road, its easy to bird apart from the walk we have to take to visit "Dead Woman's pond" and "Meadow pond trail".

I reached the refuge at around 6:40AM. Went directly to "Dead Woman's pond". When I reached Picnic pond I heard huge sound and it turned out to be "Wild hogs". There were at-least 4 of them drinking water. Thankfully they were at quite a distance from the trail. Apart from these I saw a lone Green Heron and a Great Blue Heron in the pond. After waiting for a while to make sure the hogs have gone inside the forest I headed towards the "Dead Woman's pond". And in "Dead Woman's pond" I saw quite a few Green Heron's, a lone Little Blue Heron, few GBH and Great egrets. Apart from these I saw few Indigo buntings(Both male and female). I also saw couple of Hawks but they were very far hence could not Identify them correctly. I also heard the pecking sound from a woodpecker but could not locate the bird. Thought of walking this trail for a while but again I saw 3 wild hogs at the end of the pond. Since I was birding alone, I did not want to take any risk and hence headed back to refuge road and try my luck with shore birds.

When I reached the lake I did see few birds but not in the numbers I was expecting. You could see them in pockets spread across. There were quite a few Least Sandpipers, Semipalmated Sandpipers, Dowitchers and Canada Gesse. I also saw quite a few Pectoral Sandpipers, Stilt Sandpiper and Upland Sandpipers. Other notable birds I saw were couple of White-faced Ibis. There were lot of Female Red-winged Blackbirds too. I did walk the "Meadow pond trail" to try my luck with Mississippi Kite. I Could not believe my luck, I saw the bird immediately after entering the trail. I would have missed him if I were late by even couple of minutes:-) Thanks to Chuck for mentioning this spot. I did walk till the Deavers pond but did not see many birds in the trail apart from Green Heron, GBH and Great Egrets in pond and few buntings and Cardinals in the trail.

Indigo Bunting(Female)

Probably Painted Bunting(Female) - need to confirm

Red-winged Blackbird(Female)
Upland Sandpiper
Short/Long Billed Dowitcher

Least Sandpiper

Semipalmated Sandpiper

Least and Semipalmated Sandpipers for comparison

Stilt Sandpiper


Spotted Sandpiper

Came back and tried my luck again in the lakes. This time I got lucky at finding a lone Buff-breasted Sandpiper. Had to head back home since it started getting pretty hot. Infact saw lot of these shorebirds taking rest under some of these small plants and some trying to use water to cool down. It was a very good day personally since I got to see atleast 6 new birds :-) There are few more shorebirds in my wishlist, hope to see them before this fall migration completes.

Green Heron

Indigo Bunting

Upland Sandpiper taking rest in shade

Stilt Sandpiper and Pectoral Sandpiper

Pectoral Sandpiper

White-faced Ibis
Buff-breasted Sandpiper

Little Blue Heron

Stilt Sandpiper
ebird :

List of birds :

1 Canada Goose  
2 Great Blue Heron  
3 Great Egret  
4 Snowy Egret  
5 Little Blue Heron  
6 Cattle Egret  
7 Green Heron  
8 White-faced Ibis  
9 Black Vulture  
10 Turkey Vulture  
11 Mississippi Kite  
12 Spotted Sandpiper  
13 Upland Sandpiper  
14 Stilt Sandpiper  
15 Least Sandpiper  
16 Buff-breasted Sandpiper  
17 Pectoral Sandpiper  
18 Semipalmated Sandpiper  
19 Short-billed/Long-billed Dowitcher  
20 Eastern Phoebe  
21 Scissor-tailed Flycatcher  
22 Blue Jay  
23 American Crow  
24 Carolina Chickadee  
25 Carolina Wren  
26 Blue-gray Gnatcatcher  
27 Northern Mockingbird  
28 Red-winged Blackbird  
29 Northern Cardinal

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Birding trip to High Island - Part2

On Sunday morning decided to check out the Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge before heading towards Boy Scout Wood Sanctuary. But lost my way and instead did birding just around the fields. But still the birding was amazing. Got to see my first Swainson's Hawk, Black-bellied Whistling ducks and Cave Swallows. Also saw some Dowitchers, Black-winged Stilts, Mottled Ducks and White-faces Ibises. And there were lot of singing Dickcissels in the fields. There was a lone Crested Caracara on the road feeding on a road kill.

Western Kingbird

Swainson's Hawk

Black-bellied Whistling Duck

White-faced Ibis

Black-winged Stilt

Cliff Swallow

Cave Swallow


At 8:30 joined the morning walk at Boys Scout Wood Sanctuary. Saw the regulars like Tennessee Warblers, Orchard and Baltimore Orioles along with Indigo Bunting and Rose-breasted Grosbeak. The new arrival were Nashville Warbler. And on the trail we saw Red-tailed Hawk, Broad-winged Hawk, couple of Green Herons, Crested Caracara, Loggerhead Shrike and a Veery.

Tennessee Warbler

Orchard Oriole

Rose-breasted Grosbeak(Female)

Nashville Warbler

Red-tailed Hawk

Broad-winged Hawk

After the walk with the group decided to head towards the prothonotary pond to check for water thrushes again. We see 2 different waterthrushes around Northern Waterthrush and Lousiana Waterthrush. But did not have luck the previous day and the morning as well. So wanted to try my luck again since this being my last day at the place. Luckily just when we arrived at the pond we saw a lone Northern Waterthrush feeding at the pond edge. Could not believe our luck and we had another surprise visitor at the pond, the Kentucky Warbler. There were lot of Catbirds and the thrushes(Swainsons and Wood) flying around the area. Another interesting find of the morning was a Worm-eating Warbler. 

Northern Waterthrush

Kentucky Warbler

Worm-eating Warbler

For the afternoon walk we went to Rollover pass first to try our luck and there again we saw lot of people presence because of which the bird activity was very less. But there was one Clapper Rail which was taking bath out in the open. Did not seem worried with lot of people around. After spending about 15 min at the place we decided to head towards Bolivar flats. Its another Audubon bird sanctuary on the shores. We saw lot of Terns, Gulls and Sanderlings around. We also saw a lone Snowy Plover and couple of Piping Plovers. We also saw a Reddish Egret doing its drunken dance and successfully catching its morning meals. There were lot of Sanderlings and Wilsons plovers around. We saw lot of terns which included lone Caspian , Sandwiched, Black, Common, Least, Forsters and Royal terns. We also saw few Ring-billed Gulls and a lone Lesser-backed Gull.

Clapper Rail

Piping Plover

Snowy Plover

Reddish Egret

Common Tern

Least Tern

Black Tern

Sandwich tern

Royal Terns dancing :-)

Lesser-backed Gull


Savannah Sparrow
For evening walk headed back towards Smith Oaks Bird Sanctuary. Had to bird in the rain the whole evening.  We did not see lot of birds when we started but batches of birds kept flying in. At one point all we could see were thrushes(Wood, Swainsons and Veery). There were lot of Blackburnian and Black-throated Green Warblers. We also saw couple of Ovenbirds. Since I had to be home by night had to end the evening walk a little earlier than planned. But on the whole the weekend couldn't have gone any better. It was once in a lifetime experience and hopefully I will get a chance to visit this place again(Hopefully next spring).

Scarlet Tanager

Blackburnian Warbler


Swainson's Thrush

ebird :

Birds seen during the day :

1 Black-bellied Whistling-Duck 
2 Gadwall 
3 Blue-winged Teal 
4 Double-crested Cormorant 
5 Brown Pelican 
6 Great Blue Heron 
7 Great Egret 
8 Snowy Egret 
9 Tricolored Heron 
10 Cattle Egret 
11 White Ibis 
12 White-faced Ibis 
13 Roseate Spoonbill 
14 Black Vulture 
15 Turkey Vulture 
16 Swainson's Hawk 
17 Black-necked Stilt 
18 Greater/Lesser Yellowlegs 
19 Short-billed/Long-billed Dowitcher 
20 Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon) 
21 White-winged Dove 
22 Mourning Dove 
23 Crested Caracara 
24 Blue Jay 
25 American Crow 
26 Cliff Swallow 
27 Northern Mockingbird 
28 European Starling 
29 Dickcissel 
30 Western/Eastern Meadowlark 
31 House Sparrow 
32 Pied-billed Grebe 
33 Green Heron 
34 Broad-winged Hawk 
35 Red-tailed Hawk 
36 Ruby-throated Hummingbird 
37 Loggerhead Shrike 
38 White-eyed Vireo 
39 Barn Swallow 
40 Veery 
41 Swainson's Thrush 
42 Wood Thrush 
43 Gray Catbird 
44 Cedar Waxwing 
45 Worm-eating Warbler 
46 Northern Waterthrush 
47 Black-and-white Warbler 
48 Tennessee Warbler 
49 Nashville Warbler 
50 Kentucky Warbler 
51 Blackburnian Warbler 
52 Chestnut-sided Warbler 
53 Summer Tanager 
54 Scarlet Tanager 
55 Rose-breasted Grosbeak 
56 Blue Grosbeak 
57 Indigo Bunting 
58 Reddish Egret 
59 Clapper Rail 
60 American Avocet 
61 Black-bellied Plover 
62 American Golden-Plover 
63 Snowy Plover 
64 Wilson's Plover 
65 Semipalmated Plover 
66 Piping Plover 
67 Killdeer 
68 Greater Yellowlegs 
69 Willet 
70 Whimbrel 
71 Ruddy Turnstone 
72 Sanderling 
73 Laughing Gull 
74 Franklin's Gull 
75 Ring-billed Gull 
76 Herring Gull 
77 Lesser Black-backed Gull 
78 Least Tern 
79 Caspian Tern 
80 Black Tern 
81 Common Tern 
82 Forster's Tern 
83 Royal Tern 
84 Sandwich Tern 
85 Belted Kingfisher 
86 Western Kingbird 
87 Scissor-tailed Flycatcher 
88 Red-eyed Vireo 
89 Carolina Wren 
90 Ruby-crowned Kinglet 
91 Brown Thrasher 
92 Ovenbird 
93 Cerulean Warbler 
94 Blackpoll Warbler 
95 Black-throated Green Warbler 
96 Northern Cardinal