Sunday, 10 December 2017

Status Quo

Think I've finally re-adjusted after the trip!?

A couple of days reducing the Holiday debt then down to Nottingham last night to see the legendary Dennis Locorriere...THE voice of Dr Hook.


Obviously my era BUT the guy has transcended the generations. He has a unique voice and at 68 he's still belting it out. All songs sung correctly...just like the records. A fantastic 2 hours!!! Sylvia's Mother was one of the first records I ever bought. "We shared the night together". Nostalgia over.

Over to the LDV on Thursday to try for the reported Glossy Ibis (a potential York tick). I arrived at Bank Island at dawn in the pouring rain...and waited. No sign by 9.30. I had a few things to do in Selby before spending 2 hours at NDC. Water levels are very high in the Valley but not quite high enough to fill the Carrs. I did see a few Whoopers flying down the river though. Back to Bank Island for 2.30. Gave it till dusk but still no sign. I tried.

Thursday, 7 December 2017

Texas 17 - Day 22

Negotiated an 11am departure from Galveston after a final coffee and chocolates at La King's at 10.30. So, up at 5 and back on the Ferry to arrive on the Bolivar at dawn. Thankfully no fog today.

My main focus in the 90 minutes I had was to try again for American Oystercatcher. It's a local but elusive species. Alas, it proved too elusive for me once again (I did have great views last year).

I did have a wonderful walk out onto the famous Bolivar Flats Sanctuary. Thankfully it's another area of habitat safeguarded for future generations.

I enjoyed the sunrise...I don't say that very often!


Again...plenty of birds here...


Avocets of the American kind...
 
 

A distant Reddish Egret...


More Nelson's Sparrows...

Must be a good year!
A bathing Long-billed Curlew...



My time was up. I couldn't find any Snowy or Piping Plovers which was both surprising, disappointing...and maybe slightly embarrassing. I blame it on my time window...or exhaustion!

My last trip tick came on the return Ferry crossing in the form of a Red-breasted Merganser...

For the record
That's it then. Hope you found something of interest. I'll do a numbers post and a summary ASAP.

Tuned out!

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Texas 17 - Day 21

Last full day...so needed a belter!

It was time for a trip on the iconic Galveston Ferry...


Always a treat...and it's free!

I'd got the good lady out of bed at 5.30am so I'd better give her a great day as well! She'd gone back to sleep at this point. Nothing unusual was seen on the crossing. As we docked the fog rolled in!!! More "luck"!

Never mind. First stop was going to be Frenchtown Road were fortunately you can usually get close views of the birds present. Visibility was sufficient to make it worthwhile to linger.

A Willet appeared out of the gloom. Will one ever make it across the "pond"?


More Ring-billed Gulls...


Then the little guys started to appear. From being disappointed with the poor weather this turned out to be an excellent session with more best ever views...of Nelson's Sparrow...




Great to get such prolonged, close views of this typically elusive Ammodramus Sparrow...


FR is also famous for Rails. Last year I saw both Clapper and Sora, this year I managed a brief running Clapper...

It was Foggy!
A lovely Marbled Godwit dropped in...


Half-way up the peninsular is Rollover Pass...a channel that cuts right through and is a magnet for feeding and resting birds...

A Royal Tern drifts over the Skimmers, Terns and Gulls
A wonderful vista...


We then turned north and headed through the fabled High Island. Probably THE most famous migrant hotspot in the US. No lingering today but a record shot just HAD to be taken...



We headed through Beaumont to the Edgewater Picnic Area


Again in search of Woodpeckers but again I drew a blank. I had seen Red-headed here last year. Pileated may be the largest but it's not the easiest to see! I did sneak a brief view of a silent Hermit Thrush...


There was some amazing habitat...


Looks good for IVORY-BILLED!!!

I was determined not to spend too much time in the car. So I scrubbed a site and decided to spend the rest of the day at Cattail Marsh just west of Beaumont. I'd been here many moons ago but the site has been developed and thankfully secured for the future.

We spent a wonderful last three hours of daylight here. Slightly better than yesterday.

I finally found a superb male Cinnamon Teal amongst the thousands of ducks present, far further North than anticipated...


with females I do believe
Winter plumaged Pied-billed Grebe...


Black-necked Stilt...


Blue-winged Teal...


White-faced Ibis...


American Avocet...


Plenty of birds today!

We'd had a great chat with a retired local couple who visited the Marsh regularly. Interesting how they said we'd visited at the best time of year...both for Birds...and weather. They said they'd lived here all their lives but "you don't want to be here in summer"! Hurricane territory.

I'd seen a record of Bald Eagle on eBird. I asked them f they'd seen one lately. They said they hadn't but they pointed out a nest at the far end (and I mean far end) of the reserve...

See it?
He also said there were some diving ducks in the deeper water at that end. I was tempted and I still had an hours light. No further species of Duck were seen unfortunately but I needed the exercise!

Here's the corny but. Strange but true!

It was time to head back to Louse and the couple as the sun was sinking fast. I had a last look at the nest and thought..."Be nice if the eagle flew in now"...IT DID!!!

Told you it was corny! I set the scope up and tried for a last minute record shot...

Evidence!
A VERY satisfying day.

Going home tomorrow. I wonder if I can sneak a last sesh early doors?

Stay tuned...

Texas 17 - Day 20

Just to add some balance to all this fun...today wasn't (much) fun! Sometimes the type of holiday we chose to take involves logistical problems. Today was such a day.

I was hoping to try for some of the Woodpeckers available. First stop was Armand Bayou Nature Centre but it wasn't for long as it was closed! Should have checked...but can't think of everything...not by a long chalk! We did pass the Space Centre so would have been rude not to take a few pics...(phone pics clearer when clicked).



Even McDonald's joins in...


Next we tried W.G.Jones State Forest north of Houston. Always a sensational drive through this great city...






We eventually found the less than obvious entrance, parked up and had lunch.

This reserve is famous for its Red-cockaded Woodpecker...


No sign of this or any other Woodpeckers in a two hour search...


Wonderful spot
I did find a nest tree, with man-made cavity. Obviously to protect the site from larger Woodpeckers...especially Pileated (never did find one!).


It was now 2pm and time to leave for the target bird...American Woodcock. We had to take on the Houston traffic!




1.15hrs around the ring road. Lets give it 2.30hrs. I've done this route many times and although very busy never had any major problem...until today. As we approached I10 from the 610 ring road a warning sign...

"Entrance road to I10 closed due to major accident".

Oh Dear!!!

Louise was driving so I tried plan B. I won't bore you with the full story but the I290 we diverted onto was a building site (reminded me of England) with poor signs and we got hopelessly lost. I'd blown my chance of a Texas tick. I'd planned to make an attempt on Sunday but again the Houston traffic beat me. Guess it wasn't to be. We headed for the Texas Roadhouse as consolation. The best night out in Texas!

I drove the I45 back to Galveston. We were back at the Motel at 9.30pm. I've had more successful days...still fun though...sort of!? No species added!

Stay tuned...

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Texas 17 - Day 19

So, where was I?

Monday the 27th...I think!

Dawn found me at East Beach, Galveston after driving in along Retillion Rd...


This was the area the TAMAULIPAS CROW was seen in yesterday lunchtime/afternoon. I drove all the available areas for an hour or so, as did a few others but there was no sign of the bird. As already stated this wasn't a "new" bird for me (I've just looked...April 13th 2001!!!). However, it's still a rare bird (Code 3) and many had travelled far to add it to their lists, as there hadn't been any records for years.

Not many birds present at all but I did get great views of Ring-billed Gull...


I returned to the Motel for breakfast and then took Louise to the wonderful historic district of Galveston. We had a coffee in the unique La King's sweetshop...


Nice coffee and chocolates!!!

It was BIG shopping day for her today. Everything was open but quiet...perfect! I decided to have a run down the island and try a few hotspots before returning to pick her up at 3. That gave me 4 hours.

First stop was Sportsman's road which always gives great close views of wading birds.

Roseate Spoonbill...


Not the best looking but the colour is stunning...better in flight!

Others were more distant in the haze...


...including this Reddish with a Great, Tri-colored and some more RS.

Belted Kingfishers were plentiful along this stretch of road...


Next it was on to the remarkable Lafitte's Cove. A nature reserve in the middle of elite bay houses...


This place is a magnet for migrants on migration, offering great close views. Obviously quieter at this time of year but I did get my best ever view of a Sedge Wren...


Really pleased with this sighting as I'd looked for this bird on many occasions previously without much luck. considering the time of day the bird performed admirably. However, I couldn't find a YC Night Heron to add to my trip list.

Onward down the 22 mile island. Next, a White-tailed Kite on the wire...


The area west of LC always has these birds hunting the pastures. As usual I was cutting things fine time-wise. I wanted a quick look at San Luis Pass (a favourite location) but it was going to be tight (daft really). I negotiated my way across the pot holes and puddles and found a spot were I could scan the birds from. I had 10 minutes...ish!

I did get a nice view of a juvenile Black-bellied Plover...


...and a fast disappearing Greater Yellowlegs...


Then the monumental moment...at least for me!

I'd parked next to a couple of fishermen's trucks. As per usual a few Grackles were perched on them hoping for scraps. I heard a "croak"? I'd like to state here and now that I'm no world authority on ABA birds...or anything else for that matter! However, I had checked my Ibird pro app earlier at East Beach for the call of the TAMAULPAS CROW. It sounded rather similar! I turned around and this is what I saw...


It was only there for seconds but this time  was quick enough to grab the evidence. I had FOUND a rare bird!!! OK, not a stunner but...who cares! A truly magic moment for yours truly especially considering the circumstances of the day. Looked for at dawn at the other end of the island and a ten minute window at this end. These moments are the icing on the cake of Birding...not that I've had that many!

Elated I floated back to La King's to join Louise. Unfortunately due to technical issues I was unable to spread the news of my sighting until the evening. Incredibly I found out that some other birders had seen one/the same on the other side of the pass mid-afternoon!

A day to last in the memory.

Stay tuned...