Thursday, April 24, 2008

Upper Texas Coast - April 18, 2008 - Derailed at Anahuac

Rain was coming down hard on Friday morning. Rain is good, the birders at High Island told us. That means there will be birds coming in. But first, we have to wait for the rain to stop, right? Not! Neither rain nor sleet nor snow would stop a dedicated birder from pursuing his target bird.

After about a couple of hours the rain did stop. Still there were a few birds to be seen. Nothing unusual has made an appearance yet.

So we decided to visit Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge where "at least four kinds of rail can be seen". There we got good looks at Cattle Egrets and an American Bittern that decided to show itself.

We did an auto tour around Shoveler Pond where we picked up lifer # 21 - a Mottled Duck.

Spending close to an hour at the boardwalk hoping to find a rail - any rail -became an exercise in fulility. Thankfully, we got lifer # 22 when we caught a glimpse of a Least Bittern flying across the road. We tried the other routes but all we saw were alligators.

Back at High Island, things were still slow at 3 pm. The only thing of interest was a Little Blue Heron devouring a huge orange-colored fish.

By 4 pm, bird activity started to pick up. Colorful tanagers raided the mulberry tree above the "grandstand". By the "cathedral" we picked up three species of vireo, two of which were lifers 23 and 24, Red-eyed and Yellow-throated, respectively. The third was a Blue-headed which we have already seen two days ago.

A commotion at the grandstand indicated that warblers were coming in. We joined about a hundred other enthusiasts as the local experts started calling out the names of the warblers that showed up. Tennesee Warbler (lifer #25),

Black and White Warbler! (#26)

Blue-winged Warbler and finally Golden-winged Warbler (#27). Eventually, the excitement died down as evening approached. As a last hurrah, I spotted a Rose-breasted Grosbeak preening itself above us. It was our 28th and final lifer of the trip.

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