Saturday, April 30, 2016

Birding trip to High Island - Part1

High Island, the best place to be during winter migration :-) I had read a lot about this place while reading about birding in Texas. Thankfully I was able to plan a trip to this place, thanks to my wife :-)

The plan was to join the bird walks arranged by Tropical Birding group. They were amazing. Took time to explain about the habitats, about the migration patterns and interesting behaviors in birds. They were very helpful and all of them volunteering for this work. They have 3 walks planned everyday during the spring migration except for Tuesday's and Wednesdays. The morning walk starts at 8:30 near the Boy Scout Woods Sanctuary. And this walks lasts about couple of hours. Afternoon walks start at 12 and the walks are planned either on shore or inland looking for shorebirds. And the evening walks start at 4 at Smith Oaks Bird Sanctuary again looking for warblers and other birds. And if possible a walk would be planned near the rookery to look for the roosting birds.

I started at 6:30 and by the time I reached Boy Scout Wood Sanctuary there were already people near the Audubon center looking for birds. There was lot of activity there already. One of the first birds I saw was this beautiful Rose-breasted Grosbeak. Singing in this beautiful sunlight. First of the many life birds I saw during the visit. I thought it wouldn't be common but over the weekend I saw lot of them. The other very common bird we saw were the Orchard Oriole, Baltimore Orioles, Scarlet and Summer Tanagers. These beautiful colored birds were everywhere in the woods. And most of the times seen munching the berries. All these birds do is eat after their long journey and then need to bulk up a little before they again start their northward journey. The bottle brush plants near the Audubon center was attracting lot of these birds and there were lot of Tennessee Warblers around the same trees. We also saw lot of Indigo Buntings around. There was another bird which I need to confirm the ID which looked like a Blue Grosbeak.

Rose-breasted Grosbeak

Orchard Oriole(Female)

Orchard Oriole(Male)

Tennessee Warbler

Orchard Oriole(1'st Summer Male)

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Indigo Bunting

Blue Grosbeak

I met Charles Carlson and Chris at the Sanctuary before the walks started. I have done few birding walks with Charles Carlson and he has been very helpful with birding here in Dallas area. He usually helps me with the birding places around and helps with bird ID's :-) Even during this trip we did lot of birding together.

The bird walk was inside the Boy Scouts Wood Sanctuary. At the start of the trail we saw lot of Grey Catbirds and Tanagers. The first of the warbler seen during the walk was a Yellow Warbler and Golden Winged warbler. Also tropical birding group explained about the Brewster Warbler(which is a cross between Golden-winged Warbler and Blue-winged Warbler). We also saw Black and White Warbler near the prothonotary pond. That was the only bird we saw near the pond. I was hoping to see the water thrushes but we did not have any luck. And further on the trail we only saw Eastern-wood Pewee and a flyover Barn-owl. Since we were not seeing lot of activity on the trail we decided to head towards the Audubon center to check for birds near the bottle-brush trees.

Grey Catbird

Yellow Warbler

Golden-winged Warbler

Black and White Warbler

Behind the Audubon center they have few bird feeders where I saw a Rose-breasted Grosbeak and Indigo Bunting feeding. We also saw a lone Inca Dove there and other usual suspects(Tanagers, Orioles, Tennessee warblers and couple of Ruby-throated hummingbird) near the center.

Rose-breasted Grosbeak

Inca Dove

The walk ended at around 10 at which point I joined Chuck to checkout the Smith Oaks Bird Sanctuary. There were lot of birds and the first bird we saw after entering was Chestnut-sided warbler and Black-throated Green Warbler. We also saw few Swainson's thrushes and Tanagers here. We also saw lot of Red-Eyed Vireos around

Chestnut-sided Warbler

Swainson's Thrush

Summer Tanager

Red-eyed Vireo

Northern Cardinal

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Summer Tanager

Black-throated Warbler
After a while we went to the Rookery area to see the Gallinules and other roosting birds. We saw lot egrets with chicks and there were lot of Roseate Spoonbills too. There were few Common Gallinules. We also saw a big alligator near the rookery probably waiting for an easy meal.

Pied-billed Grebe

Common Gallinule
Near the parking lot saw this beautiful Scarlet Tanager munching on the berries. Charles dropped me at Boys Scout Wood sanctuary where the noon bird walk was supposed to start. And near the Audubon center saw few people looking for birds where I got to see my first Blackburnian Warbler also present was aWhite-eye Vireo, Chestnut-sided Warbler.

Scarlet Tanager

Blackburnian Warbler

White-eyed Vireo

For the noon walks usual we have to drive in our cars to some designated shorebird spots. The spots are communicated before and we were supposed to meet at Rollover pass. We had to follow the walk leaders in our cars. When we reached the rollover pass we saw there were lot of people enjoying their weekend time. We still saw few Black Skimmers, Terns and Sanderlings here. Also saw a White-morphed Reddish Egret here. Because of the number of people near there were not many birds around. Instead we were taken to Yacht Basin Road. 

Black Skimmers


At the Yatch Basin road we saw lot of Marbled Godwits, Whimbrels, Black-necked Stilts and Ruddy Turnstones. We also saw lone Black-bellied Plover and few Wilsons Plovers. We also saw few Semi-palmated plovers and it was good to see Wilsons Plovers and Semi-palmated plovers side by side for comparison. We saw couple of Common nighthawks and lone Crested Caracara which scared few of the birds arounds. Also present were lot of Willets. But the best sighting of the day was a Clapper Rail which was hiding just 5 feet away from me. My first sighting of the rail species.

Marbled Godwit

Black-winged Stilt

Tricolored Heron

Ruddy Turnstone


Laughing Gull

Belted Kingfisher

Clapper Rail

Wilsons Plover

Black-bellied Plover

Crested Caracara

Semi-palmated Plover
For evening walk we were back at Smith Oaks Bird Sanctuary. We saw Swainson's and Wood Thrush here along with a Veery. Of the warbler species we saw Blackburnian, Hooded, Blue-winged, Yellow-throated, Black-throated Green, Chestnut-sided, Black and White and Tennessee. We also saw White-eyed, Red-eyed, Yellow-throated and Philadelphia Vireos. We also got a best closeup view of Northern Parula which was quite joyous :-)


Black-throated Green Warbler

Swainson's Thrush

Hooded Warbler

Blue-winged Warbler

Northern Warbler

Yellow-throated Vireo

Wood Thrush

Yellow-throated Warbler

Cerulean Warbler

Chestnut-sided Warbler

At the end of the walk got to see Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Yellow-billed Cuckoo and a Blackpoll Warbler :-) Best way to end the day.

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

Yellow-billed Cuckoo

Blackpoll Warbler

ebird :
Boy Scout :

Rollover Pass :

Yatch Basin :

Smith Oaks :

Birds seen during the day :

1 Pied-billed Grebe  
2 Double-crested Cormorant 
3 Brown Pelican 
4 Great Blue Heron 
5 Great Egret 
6 Snowy Egret 
7 Tricolored Heron  
8 Cattle Egret 
9 Roseate Spoonbill 
10 Common Gallinule 
11 American Coot 
12 Yellow-billed Cuckoo  
13 Barn Owl  
14 Ruby-throated Hummingbird 
15 Yellow-bellied Sapsucker  
16 Eastern Wood-Pewee  
17 White-eyed Vireo 
18 Yellow-throated Vireo  
19 Red-eyed Vireo 
20 Blue Jay 
21 American Crow 
22 Carolina Wren 
23 Ruby-crowned Kinglet 
24 Veery 
25 Swainson's Thrush 
26 Wood Thrush 
27 Gray Catbird 
28 Brown Thrasher  
29 Northern Mockingbird 
30 Cedar Waxwing 
31 Blue-winged Warbler  
32 Black-and-white Warbler 
33 Tennessee Warbler 
34 Hooded Warbler  
35 Cerulean Warbler  
36 Northern Parula  
37 Magnolia Warbler  
38 Blackburnian Warbler 
39 Chestnut-sided Warbler 
40 Blackpoll Warbler  
41 Yellow-throated Warbler  
42 Black-throated Green Warbler 
43 Summer Tanager 
44 Scarlet Tanager 
45 Rose-breasted Grosbeak 
46 Red-winged Blackbird 
47 Great-tailed Grackle 
48 Orchard Oriole 
49 Baltimore Oriole  
50 Mallard 
51 American Bittern 
52 Tricolored Heron 
53 Black Vulture 
54 Turkey Vulture 
55 Clapper Rail 
56 Black-necked Stilt 
57 Black-bellied Plover 
58 Wilson's Plover 
59 Semipalmated Plover 
60 Greater Yellowlegs 
61 Willet 
62 Whimbrel 
63 Marbled Godwit 
64 Ruddy Turnstone 
65 Dunlin 
66 Common Nighthawk 
67 Belted Kingfisher 
68 Crested Caracara 
69 Scissor-tailed Flycatcher 
70 Reddish Egret 
71 Sanderling 
72 Ring-billed Gull 
73 Black Tern 
74 Common Tern 
75 Sandwich Tern 
76 Black Skimmer 
77 Inca Dove 
78 Chimney Swift 
79 Purple Martin 
80 Golden-winged Warbler 
81 Northern Cardinal 
82 Indigo Bunting 
83 Boat-tailed Grackle 
84 Baltimore Oriole 
85 House Sparrow 

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