Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Bulletin #108 – Spring Migration #3

David McDonald Photography
Friendswood Texas
April 20, 2010

Bulletin #108 – Spring Migration #3

Hello friends,

Spring migration has generally been slow for the first part of April. There were a number of birds of different species, but not a lot of birds and one had to work diligently to find them.

However, things changed dramatically on Sunday the 18th. The skies were literally raining birds all along the coast from South Padre Island to High Island. This was a wonderful day showing spring migration birding at its finest with a good fallout. High Island reported 29 warbler species for the day and I saw most of them in 3 hours. Even rarities such as Cerulean and Blackburnian were present in multiples. One large Live Oak had at least a dozen species in the single tree!

For photography, however, LaFitte's Cove remains my favorite location as the trees aren't so tall, and the water drips are close to the path.

On Friday afternoon, everyone's target bird, the male Painted Bunting (Passerina ciris) was abundant with at least a dozen birds in the brush. They would periodically come to the water and posed for photos.

A number of warblers were available for close-ups over the weekend. As you know, I like to be able to see the feather detail in my photos.

The secretive Kentucky Warbler (Oporornis formosus) popped out of some brush for all of 30 seconds, but I had the camera ready and got him. He is IDed by the olive and yellow body and black 'whisker'. The sexes are similar.

Also, the American Redstart (Septophaga ruticilla) put in an appearance at the drip. All warblers are very active when feeding and thus are hard to photograph. However, this bird is hyperactive, flitting around in the branches. Thus, it was nice to have him still for a moment at the drip. Notice, he is on the same log as the Painted Bunting in the first photo. This is a male. He is IDed by the black, orange and white pattern. No other small bird is like this.

After his drink, he flew up to a branch right over me.

Here is another bird in a tree. They fan their tails constantly when feeding giving a flashing orange pattern. Here is one with his tail spread.

The next warbler is a female Black-throated Green Warbler (Dendroica virens). She is IDed by the black on the throat, yellow face and green back. Notice the white in the center between the black patches. The male has a solid black throat.

The Tennessee Warbler (Vermivora peregrina) is a drab bird with green back and white line over the eye. This is a male with a gray head. The female would have a green head.
Shorebirds also migrate through here in the spring. Although generally not colorful, they offer an identification challenge to birders.

Here is a Red Knot (Calidris canutus). This 10" bird is IDed by the gray back, reddish breast and short bill. If you have been watching the 'LIFE' series recently on Discovery Channel, this bird was discussed as having one of the longest migrations in the bird world. They summer in the Canadian arctic and winter in Argentina.

Here is a Solitary Sandpiper (Tringa solitaria). It is IDed by the dark wings, spotted back and bright white eye-ring.

The Pectoral Sandpiper (Calidris melanotis) is a bird that I never saw well until this weekend. There were several birds at LaFitte's Cove. It is IDed by the sharp demarcation on the breast/belly of the streaked upper part and plain lower part. In the breeding plumage here, there is a bit of rust on the face and head.

The last sandpiper is the breeding Dunlin (Calidris alpina). This bird has rufous feathers on his back and black patch on the belly. The bill is slightly downcurved at the tip.

Now for an ID quiz. I photographed this bird on Galveston Island last weekend. I’m sure the experts will get the correct species. However, how about others? It can be IDed from this head on view. Email me with your guesses. I’ll post the answer in a couple of weeks.

I will be leading a 9 day bird photography tour to Costa Rica in conjunction with Lillian Scott-Baer of Baer Travel March 3-11, 2011. We have worked out an itinerary to visit La Selva Preserve, Savegre Mountain Hotel in the central mountains for Resplendant Quetzal and other montane species and Wilson Botanical Gardens (Las Cruces). We have also retained the services of local guide Rudy Zamora to accompany us and locate and ID the birds for us to photograph. We will also have beautiful flowers and hopefully some mammals - tamanduas, monkeys etc.

I will be giving several talks in the evening on bird photography, Photoshop etc.

The price will be $1960 double to $2380 single. This includes hotels, all meals, guide, transportation in Costa Rica etc. The only other cost will be airfare and personal purchases (alcohol, souvenirs etc) . Space is limited to 10 persons to maximize our opportunity to see and photograph the birds. I have birded in Costa Rica previously. It is a wonderful country to visit and the bird life is exceptional. I hope that you can join us.

Here is the schedule of payments for the trip.

$ 25 reservation fee (not refundable)
$ 575 due April 30, 2010
$ 600 due July 30, 2010
$ 740 due January 15, 2011
Please send deposits to:

ScoBar Inc.
34 Galway Place
The Woodlands, TX 77382

Note - we will try to pair up singles and triple would be $1890 per person.

There are only 2 spaces left for this trip as of today, so please email me, if interested.

All comments and suggestions are welcomed and appreciated.

Happy birding and photography,

David McDonald

email: davidkmcd@comcast.net

photos copyright 2010 David McDonald

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