Home

Paintings gallery

Video clips

Images

DVD

Contact

Site map

Links

Content

Introduction

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Day 4

Day 5

Day 6

Day 7

Species list

Text only


Day 6 (Thursday, 21st April)

 


Perkey's Pond

Boardwalk

Seating overlooking Perkey's Pond

Boardwalk through the woods

On the journey down from Lost Maples the previous evening, we had fingers crossed for poor weather, but it had looked almost dry and windless through the night. In addition, as we approached High Island, there was a mist, but only restricted to the ground, which probably indicated very calm conditions overnight. Perhaps a good blow from the North with rain to bring down some migrants was too much to hope for. We spent a few hours in Boy Scouts Woods, bypassing the first seated area overlooking Perkey’s Pond, and stumbled straight away on Wood Thrush and Brown Thrasher. Exploring the woods further, we found a good vantage point over somebody’s garden, which contained a large berry tree attracting a number of commoner species: a pair of Rose-breasted Grosbeaks; a handful of Cedar Waxwings; Blue Jay; and Grey Catbirds. The darker and more enclosed parts of the reserve were quiet, until we came across an opening overlooking Prothonotory Pond, where a Green Heron was perched for a short time. The first of a handful of Ruby-throated Hummingbirds was also here, presumably passing through on migration. Further walking and we crossed the boardwalk to the decking in the centre of the pond, and stayed there for a little while. American Purple Gallinule and Moorhen were on the pond, with plenty of singing Red-winged Blackbirds throughout, and a Downy Woodpecker over. Back to the woods, still quiet, and we entered the photography hide. This was well set up, with a couple of dripping taps in front of small openings in the linen walls. We watched for a while and picked up a couple of Grey Catbirds and male Hooded Warbler. A short walk around the woods again before returning to Perkey’s Pond found a male Common Yellowthroat, and female Orchard Oriole over the pond. These were also obvious in front of the entrance, on small bushes dotting the gardens, and a male Common Grackle proved to be the only one of the trip.

Pond

Red-winged Blackbird

Boardwalk to Prothonotory Pond

Red-winged Blackbird


Map of Bolivar peninsular


Willet

Double-crested Cormorant

Willet

Double-crested Cormorant

We left High Island and joined the coastal road which ran South along the Bolivar Peninsular, where the importance of the reserve could be seen by looking back at the tree oasis on an otherwise flat and uninviting landscape for tired migrants. We drove to Rollover Pass to briefly look for seabirds, and then on to Yacht Basin Road. This track is supposedly good for sparrows, particularly in Winter, and we were looking specifically for Seaside Sparrow. We missed out on these here, only seeing Savannah Sparrows. The road did turn out to be a Mecca for Clapper Rails. In the ditches either side of the road, and the adjoining marsh, we saw at least 4 birds, which even crossed the road in front of the car, and many more calling nearby from the vegetation. Just before the houses at the end, we turned right on to the short dirt track to follow some Savannah Sparrows more closely, and added Eastern Meadowlark and Indigo Bunting. The houses themselves harboured a small pond, with upright posts in the centre – a perched Belted Kingfisher was on one of these.

Yacht Basin Road

Savannah Sparrow

Yacht Basin Road

Savannah Sparrow

We had more luck with Seaside Sparrows 3 miles further down the peninsular on Tuna Road. We had been looking for the Oryx oilfield, and found Tuna Road instead. The first birds we came across were Hudsonian Whimbrel and 3 breeding plumaged Short-billed Dowitchers next to the road. We went all the (short) way to the end, where we met the intercoastal canal, and on turning came across another Clapper Rail. Almost at the end of the road again, and we at last chanced upon a couple of singing Seaside Sparrows, about 50m into the marsh.

Clapper Rail

Short-billed Dowitcher

Clapper Rail

Short-billed Dowitcher


Bolivar Flats

Bolivar Flats

Bolivar Flats

Next on the agenda was some wader and gull watching, and this spot is reputedly the best in the state for this activity. We made our way almost to the end of the peninsular, turning left to find the road to the beach. Once there, we crossed the hard sand to the car park area. Although cars can only go so far up to the Audubon fence, the rest of the beach can be walked. It’s a fairly long expanse of sand, bounded at the back by low coastal scrub and saltmarsh. Winter is likely to  be the best time to visit, with large flocks of waders reported, but we did see a small variety including Sanderling, Grey Plover, Turnstone, Least Sandpiper, and Wilson’s Plover. The main interest thus lay in the gulls, and one or two herons. Within the former, were mainly Laughing Gulls, the odd American Herring Gull, and numerous terns consisting of Caspian, Sandwich, Forster’s, & Least Terns. The latter had a small nesting colony to the rear of the beach, which was sensibly fenced off. There were only a handful of herons, with singles of Reddish Egret, Great Egret, and Great Blue Heron. The heron put on a display of how to swallow an outsized fish, when it caught one that seemed far too large, and also stuck to its lower mandible. After a little thought and a wade into the shallow edges, it made short work of its monster catch.

Least Tern

Caspian Tern

Least Tern

Royal Tern

Forster's Tern

Brown Pelican

Forster's Tern

Brown Pelican and Laughing Gulls

American Herring Gull

Great Blue Heron

American Herring Gull

Great Blue Heron


Map of Anahuac


Anahuac

Anahuac

Shoveler Pond

Boardwalk through Shoveler Pond

After scoffing a delicious brisket burrito, we had about 4 hours of light left. The plan was to visit Anahuac for an hour or two, and then complete the day at High Island to hopefully look for warblers that might have dropped in later that day. This plan was scotched when we arrived at Anahuac, because the potential of the place looked huge when we looked at the notice board, and also the Willows within the reserve had been very poor this year for warblers due to the settled weather, and this may have been mirrored at High Island. Over the next 4 hours, before leaving at dark, this was undoubtedly the best decision. We took some time to drive the 2˝ miles around Shoveler Pond. This had some small areas of open water, but is mainly reeded with an overgrowth of lilies on the rest of the water. There is an almost continuous gap of about 5m around the edge of the pond (covered with lilies), and this is where the potential for bitterns and rails lay. We had been told that a pair of King Rails were breeding around here, but without an exact location, possibly to reduce general local disturbance, so we scoured more or less every inch along the way. We were rewarded with very close views of male and female Least Bittern on the initial part of the drive, as well as numerous Eastern Kingbirds, and of course the ubiquitous Grackles and Red-winged Blackbirds. There was also a constant singing from Marsh Wrens, although very few gave anything more than short glimpses. Meanwhile, overhead, we saw 2’s and 3’s of Fulvous Whistling-duck quite regularly. Half way around, there was a short boardwalk into the marsh, where we had an almost fully visible Marsh Wren, and American Bittern briefly over the reeds. Back on the track and on the last straight stretch, we picked up a very close and almost immobile American Bittern. A little further, and only about 100m from the end of the loop, we saw a small black chick making its way over the lilies, and consequently one of the parent King Rails. On and off, this gave stunning views over about 15 minutes.

Orchard Oriole

Least Bittern

Orchard Oriole

Least Bittern

Eastern Kingbird

American Bittern

Eastern Kingbird

American Bittern

King Rail

Boat-tailed Grackle

King Rail

Boat-tailed Grackle

Time was pushing on, and we decided on the southern 7 mile long track, which had the potential of more Seaside Sparrows. We didn’t see any of these, but did pick out many other species. This started off with the first of numerous Orchard Orioles and a singing Common Yellowthroat. There were also plenty of Savannah Sparrows throughout, and at the end of the drive (we only completed about half) we came across the first of 3 hawking Lesser Nighthawks. Turning the car round, we quickly located singing Sedge Wrens, which with patience approached the parked car. Behind these, one of the Nighthawks had landed on a fence post, backed by the song of Eastern Meadowlark. Almost back to the visitor centre, and a Racoon was tentatively feeding in the roadside ditch. Female Northern Harrier quartered the marshes to our left. As the light faded, we could make out Greater Yellowlegs and Solitary Sandpiper on a small pond just opposite the main building. Just as we about to exit this superb reserve, a Barn Owl was spotted flapping in the wind on a tree.

Loggerhead Shrike

Savannah Sparrow

Loggerhead Shrike

Savannah Sparrow

Sedge Wren

Eastern Meadowlark

Sedge Wren

Eastern Meadowlark

Home

Paintings gallery

Video clips

Images

DVD

Contact

Site map

Links

Content

Introduction

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Day 4

Day 5

Day 6

Day 7

Species list

Text only