Sunday, May 14, 2017

Bulletin 292 - miscellaneous local birds from winter and spring

I did not get out as much recently due to work requirements and I guess some degree of boredom, as I already have pretty good photos of most local birds. I do take photos when a good opportunity pops up to improve my existing photos of various species. And also, having been to Ecuador and Colombia, it does not seem nearly as exciting here. So here are my interesting photos since the New Year.

The Burrowing Owl (Athene cunicularia)  returned to the same place at Anahuac NWR for a second winter.

Burrowing Owl
A funny looking leucistic American Coot (Fulica americana). A leucistic bird is one with some white feathers, but is not an albino.

American Coot - leucistic
I had a Buff-bellied Hummngbird (Amazilia yucatanensis) once again in my yard this winter, but he was not there regularly. I saw or heard him maybe a half dozen times, but at least I got a nice photo. Such a treat to have this bird as a winter visitor.

Buff-bellied Hummingbird
The cute 13" Bufflehead (Bucephala albeola) is our smallest duck in North America. The male appears almost all white with just some purple on his head. The female is all brown with a white stripe across her cheek. This pair was at LaFitte's Cove in Galveston.

Bufflehead - pair

This spring I got several good photos of various birds. Photographers are told to get the best photos, it is necessary to be at eye level with the subject. So a bird on a fence is a better photo than one on the ground or way up in a tree.

Here is a beautiful male Scissor-tailed Flycatcher (Tyranus forficatus).

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher - male
I also got a nice 13" Forster's Tern (Sterna forsteri) on a fence post. The small size and bicolored bill is the ID for this bird.

Forster's Tern - breeding

There were 2 birds that I saw in the ponds at LaFitte's Cove in Galveston this spring, that I do not recall having ever seen there before. The first was a 30" Reddish Egret (Egretta rufescens). This bird is normally in salt water rather than fresh water ponds. It is IDed by the gray body, shaggy reddish neck and pink bill with black tip.

Reddish Egret
Also, last weekend I saw Wilson's Phalaropes (Phalaropus tricolor) in the ponds at LaFitte's Cove for the first time. Phalaropes are sandpipers that swim. They are unusual for birds in that the female is more colorful and the male looks after the eggs and raising the babies.

Wilson's Phalarope - female
A 23" Glossy Ibis (Plegadis falcinellus) was found at LaFitte's Cove last weekend as well. This bird has raised considerable discussion on Texbirds as to whether it is a Glossy Ibis or aberrant White-faced Ibis or possibly a hybrid. The discussion is still ongoing, but it sure looks classic to me for a Glossy and a number of other experts who saw it. It has classic Glossy field marks with the dark face and eye, pale blue lines above and below the face and dark legs.

Glossy Ibis

And a second photo.

Glossy Ibis
I also got photos of a new turtle at High Island this year. This large turtle (estimated 10-12") had a very long neck with a streaking. I looked in my guide book and came up with the ID of a Chicken Turtle (Deirochelys reticularia). I confirmed the ID with a Texas reptile expert.

Chicken Turtle
And a close up of the head.

Chicken Turtle
Overall, spring migration was very quiet for the second year in a row. The most warbler species I saw in a day was 8. Normally mid teens is average and 20 or more is possible in a good day. I hope this is not indicative of a severe decline in the bird populations.

Happy birding and photography,

David McDonald

photos copyright 2006 - 2017 David McDonald

To have these trip reports sent to your email, please email me at the above address and ask to subscribe.

No comments: