[texbirds] exciting shorebirding (Cameron Co., incl. SPI) Monday (07/23/12)

  • From: "Rex Stanford" <calidris@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: "TEXBIRDS" <texbirds@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Mon, 23 Jul 2012 23:37:18 -0500

Please start sending your posts to texbirds@xxxxxxxxxxxxx

Today (Monday 07/23/12) we birded three area in Cameron Co.: Resaca on south side of Hwy. 510/Ted Hunt Rd intersection (henceforth, "RESACA on 510"); Port Isabel Reservoir (west side of Holly Beach Road immediately northwest of Laguna Vista (henceforth "PI RESERVOIR"); and the bayside (i.e., Laguna Madre) beach northwest of the South Padre Island Convention Center (henceforth, "SPI BAYSIDE BEACH"). They were visited in that order today, but we spent hours at the latter location. It today was teeming with shorebirds, and they were easy to see because the sandy beach there was in excellent condition for driving, which afforded satisfying scope views of the birds at a respectable distance sufficient that no birds were flushed by our presence on the beach. Viewing from north of the birds, we could study them without the sun glaring to our eyes, which too often has been our fate on afternoon visits during which we had to view from back of the Convention Center due to tidal water on the beach. One of our primary objectives was to find our first Red Knot(s) of the season and to follow up on Bob Becker's recent exciting report on shorebirds at SPI. Our remarks will be confined largely to just shorebird species, except at SPI, for which we will mention the terns found there.

RESACA on 510: BLACK-NECKED STILT (1); GREATER YELLOWLEGS (1), LESSER YELLOWLEGS (2), SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPER (5), WESTERN SANDPIPER (3), and STILT SANDPIPER (1). These all were on the south side of Hwy.510. The water there was very limited due to the drought. (The north side portion of the resaca was dry.)

PI RESERVOIR: SNOWY PLOVER (2), WILSON'S PLOVER (10-12, hard to count precisely because this species very actively moves about), SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPER (7), WESTERN SANDPIPER (2), and WILSON'S PHALAROPE (1, probably a non-breeder male, due to its nearly non-chromatic plumage). These birds around the effluent outlet into the reservoir were viewed only from the northwest corner of the fence around the waste-water treatment facility, so additional shorebirds might have been present but missed. We were eager to head on to SPI.

SPI BAYSIDE BEACH: It did not take long, viewing from behind the Convention Center, to realized that (a) the beach northwest of there was teeming with shorebirds and (b) that the beach there was in superb condition for driving onto it for a closer study of the birds without having to stare directly into the afternoon sun. Here we found all the expected plovers for this season, namely, BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER (1); SNOWY PLOVER (6-8, difficult to count reliably because they were dashing about at ferocious speeds in pursuit of prey); WILSON'S PLOVER (est .12, same problem as with Snowy Plover relative to reliable count); SEMIPALMATED PLOVER (2, after a long search for this species, which was hard to find); and PIPING PLOVER (est. 12-14, a plump, relatively rotund species, often easy to pick out by its rounder shape relative to other ringed plovers, but always, today, confirmed by additional features). It was fun to be able find all the ringed plovers to be expected here at this season. The other shorebirds at this site were: AMERICAN OYSTERCATCHER (1, toward the north end of this area of beach, a location it often seems to favor); BLACK-NECKED STILT (1, listed here, but actually seen in a pool east of the north end of the boardwalk from the Convention Center); WILLET (est. 20-24, widespread; possibly more); LONG-BILLED CURLEW (1); RUDDY TURNSTONE (est. 30-34, but difficult to count due to constant activity and widely dispersed locations); RED KNOT (7, usually in groups of 2-5, none in bright breeding plumage); SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPER (5-6, at least, probably underestimate); WESTERN SANDPIPER (3, at least ); LEAST SANDPIPER (est. 60, too many and widespread to count precisely); SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHER (25-30, at least, all appearing to be of the hendersoni subspecies, as evidenced by some reddish color on the entire underside, combined with other ID characteristics); LONG-BILLED DOWITCHER (est. 12-15, probably conservative). As for birds in the tern grouping, we found LEAST TERN (60-65, at the very least--no puns intended--there were gobs, including many first-summer birds); ROYAL TERN (est. 45-50); SANDWICH TERN (8, at least); and BLACK SKIMMER (1).

TOTAL SHOREBIRD SPECIES (for the day) = 20. Our personal "Bird of the Day" citation goes to Red Knot.

Many Purple Martins graced the air at SPI.

Wishing everyone the very best of fall-migrating birding,
Rex and Birgit Stanford
McAllen, TX Edit your Freelists account settings for TEXBIRDS at http://www.freelists.org/list/texbirds

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