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Texas - April 2017 (1 Viewer)

Paul Collins

Well-known member
Overview

I have just returned from an 18-day trip to Texas, catching up with my old university friend Mohammad. It has long been my desire to pay a visit to the Lone Star State. Having heard all about the mass warbler and wader fall-outs that occur on the gulf coast every spring, the Mexican bird endemics of the south-west, and the canyon specialists of the north, the option of doing this as a road-trip with Mohammad seemed too good an opportunity to miss. This also cut costs considerably, with approximately $500 spent on food, fuel and accommodation (camping and the occasional motel) and $650 on flights.

Like me, Mohammad is also a keen photographer, so from the offset photography (of wildlife, landscapes and night skies) was the primary aim of the trip. Therefore I mainly fitted birdwatching around our other activities, or in the early hours of dawn, or during idle moments on the long car journeys (there were many), as Mohammad was only interested in the more colourful or showy species such as Caracara and Roadrunner.

Planning when and where to birdwatch was straightforward, thanks to the incredible birding infrastructure that the Audubon Society has in place across Texas (more details given with each site). I was able to get precise maps and up-to-the-day accounts of birds seen in almost every location, thanks to Audubon's online resources, national park/state park websites and the excellent ebird.org website. Despite having travelled extensively around the USA, I was lacking experience in spring birds, so I approached bird guide Mike Austin to assist me on 2 days' birding around the migration hotspots around Houston and the Louisiana border. This was an amazing and invaluable experience, even though High Island and Sabine Woods were not at their best yet.

In total I observed a respectable 239 species of bird (106 new, 130 old, and 3 heard only - Bachman's Sparrow, Sora and Northern Parula), plus 22 mammals, 19 reptiles, 3 amphibians and a plethora of butterflies, moths and exotic fauna. Most of my targets were reached, and I expect with a little more time and patience at the migration hotspots and in the canyons I could have found close to 300 species.

Each post of this report will explore area by area - from the south coast and the northeastern pine forests to the central prairies and the western deserts, detailing the common and more atypical creatures that I came across in this richly rewarding region.
 

Paul Collins

Well-known member
HOUSTON - INNER CITY SITES

Overview

My trip started and ended on Wertheimer Road, in downtown Houston. There's not much to say about the city from a tourist perspective. The landscape is characterised by flyovers, highways and drive-thru "Tex-Mex" restaurants. The small Museum District, on the fringe of Hermann Park, is a notable highlight and this whole area is pedestrian-friendy. I visited the Museum of Natural Science on my last day - it has a very nice butterfly walkthrough, and an excellent room of dioramas showcasing Texan wildlife (a very surreal experience to walk around this on my last day, having seen most of the species alive and not stuffed during my road trip).

Travelling - buses are apparently unreliable and taxis are overpriced, so I always used Uber. Most Uber journeys from downtown to the centre (around the museums) cost a very affordable $5, and it was a nice way to meet locals and exchange observations on American and British life.

Sites: (1) Houston Arboretum (2) Memorial Park (3) Hermann Park (4) Waugh Bridge and Buffalo Bayou (5) Rice University and Arboretum

Houston Arboretum

Website and maps: http://houstonarboretum.org/visit/plan-your-visit/trails/
Photo album of present bird species: https://www.inaturalist.org/guides/3665
Reptiles Checklist: https://www.inaturalist.org/guides/3665

A recreational parkland and arboretum in the north-west of the city, with numerous woodland trails, cypress swamps and pools, a small prairie area. The Outer Trail is the longest, covering the park's circumference, and intersecting with shorter Inner and RA Vine Trails. Eastern Screech Owl and Great Horned Owl nest on the reserve, and guided walks are given to see these at night. A good place to see reptiles, on cool mornings along the trails. Busier on weekends; on weekday mornings, I saw a few joggers and dog-walkers. Memorial Park and golf course is next door.

I visited the Arboretum, in the north west of the city along the Buffalo Bayou, on two occasions - on the first and last mornings (13th and 30th) of my trip. This was a very sensible decision, as the first trip was a gentle acclimatisation to American birdwatching in a peaceful setting, and the last trip was a good way to wind down from the road-trip before my flight home. Better still, both trips gave me very different species, the latter trip being a fine example of migration in full spring.

13th April, 7am-12pm
Birds: 1 Blue-Headed Vireo (lifer), 1 Brown Thrasher (lifer), 2 Grey Catbird (lifer), 2 Blue-Winged Warbler (lifer), 2 Ruby-Crowned Kinglet, 2 Yellow-Crowned Night-Heron, 25+ Northern Cardinal, 8 Blue Jay, 6 White-Winged Dove, 5 Great-Tailed Grackle, 1 Northern Flicker, 1 Pileated Woodpecker, 5 Northern Rough-Winged Swallow, 2 Northern Mockingbird, 2 Tufted Titmouse, 7 American Robin, 4 American Crow, 2 Red-Bellied Woodpecker, 10 Barn Swallow, 10+ Chimney Swift, 2 Turkey Vulture, 10+ Common Grackle, 1 Brown-Headed Cowbird
Other Wildlife: Gulf Fritillary butterfly, 2 Spurge Hawkmoth, 30+ Red-Eared Terrapin, numerous Bullfrog, 6 Brown Anole, 5 Five-Lined Skink, 1 Ground Skink, 1 Leopard Frog, 3 Swamp Rabbit, 10+ Grey Squirrel, 1 American Snout butterfly

30th April, 7.30am-10.15am
Birds: 1 Black-Throated Green Warbler (lifer), 1 Tennessee Warbler (lifer), 1 Ovenbird (lifer), 1 Chestnut-Sided Warbler, 1 Eastern Wood-Pewee, 40+ Cedar Waxwing, 1 Pileated Woodpecker, 2 Downy Woodpecker, 2 Red-Bellied Woodpecker, 2 Carolina Wren, 1 Scarlet Tanager, 2 Red-Headed Woodpecker, 1 Tufted Titmouse, 2 Carolina Chickadee, 1 Cooper's Hawk, 10+ Northern Cardinal, 4 Blue Jay, 2 Great White Egret, Chimney Swift, Northern Rough-Winged Swallow, 4 Pine Warbler, 3 White-Winged Dove, 4 Mourning Dove, Rock Dove, 2 Great-Tailed Grackle
Other Wildlife: 1 Western Ribbon Snake, 1 Eastern Yellowbelly Racer Snake, 2 Red-Eared Terrapin, 5 Grey Squirrel, 1 Swamp Rabbit

Memorial Park

A large recreational parkland with forests, golf course and sports centres, adjoining the Arboretum. I didn't spend long here because of hunger, tiredness and sheer number of joggers on the Sunday morning.

30th April, 10.30am-11am
Birds: 35+ Cedar Waxwing, 2 Red-Bellied Woodpecker, 1 Red-Tailed Hawk, 1 Broad-Winged Hawk, 1 Northern Mockingbird, Northern Cardinal

Hermann Park

Overview of Park: http://houstonaudubon.org/birding/bird-surveys/hermann-park.html
Recent Bird Sightings: http://ebird.org/ebird/tx/hotspot/L128990
Photo Gallery of Typical Birds: https://photos.google.com/share/AF1...?key=NXZTMG0zSExTSTdvMlNKS0t0MTZqWlNtOHN0WFV3

The city's central park. Wooded areas, ponds and bayou attract 150+ bird species, although the very common urban species are more likely to be seen (e.g. Red-Bellied Woodpecker, Northern Mockingbird, Northern Cardinal, White-Winged Dove, Great-Tailed Grackle...). On the west side of the Bayou is the McGovern Lake, surrounded by trees (pines, bald cypress, sycamore, red maple, oaks) and understory plans (Turk's cap, American beauty berry, yaupon), attracting warblers and woodpeckers.

There are a few noteworthy targets in this park - (1) Muscovy Duck, a feral species in Houston and can't be seen anywhere else in Texas, and with difficulty in other parts of the USA (2) Black-Bellied Whistling-Duck, better views than anywhere else in Texas and a local specialty. Both these ducks are ludicrously tame. The Swan Geese are a domesticated species. (3) Neotropic Cormorant, again a local specialty but hit-and-miss here (4) Green Heron and (5) Yellow-Crowned Night-Heron, common in the Japanese Garden and very approachable on the west side of the Bayou. My notes say that the Miller Theatre can be reliable for Red-Headed Woodpecker, and for herpetologists the McGovern Lake is particularly good for Snapping Turtles.

Like with the Arboretum, I made two visits here - on the first and penultimate afternoons (13th and 29th) of my trip.

13th April, 12.40-5.30pm
Birds: 7 Black-Bellied Whistling-Duck (lifer), 20 Muscovy Duck (lifer), 10+ White-Winged Dove, 4 Mourning Dove, 5+ Chimney Swift, 3 Green Heron, 2 Yellow-Crowned Night-Heron, 1 Cooper's Hawk, 1 Snowy Egret, 1 Northern Cardinal, 5 Blue Jay, 3 Northern Rough-Winged Swallow, 4 American Robin, 4 American Crow, 5 Greylag Goose 20+ Great-Tailed Grackle, 15+ Common Grackle, 5+ Starling, 4 House Sparrow, 3 Northern Mockingbird, 2 Great White Egret, 1 Great Blue Heron, 5 Mallard, + Rock Dove, 3 American Coot
Other Wildlife: 5 Snapping Turtle, 50+ Red-Eared Terrapin, 30+ Grey Squirrel, 1 Cottontail Rabbit

29th April, 1-1.30pm and 4-4.30pm
Very similar to the previous visit, if a little quieter, and with late afternoon additions of Eastern Wood-Pewee (lifer) and Pine Warbler.
 

Paul Collins

Well-known member
HOUSTON - INNER CITY SITES continued

Waugh Bridge (Bat Colony) and the Buffalo Bayou

Bats: http://www.houstontx.gov/parks/batpage.html

From late March through the summer, a quarter of a million Mexican Free-Tailed Bats emerge at sunset to hunt over the Buffalo Bayou in North Houston. It's a spectacular sight, and when I went it attracted an audience of a couple of hundred, spread out across the Waugh Bridge and on the grassy slopes. The bats roost under the bridge, and some can be seen sleeping in between the cracks if you look carefully (but take care with shining torchlights on them). From a birding perspective, it's also a spectacle to see migratory Broad-Winged Hawks, and maybe the occasional Kestrel, Peregrine or Swainson's Hawk, stoop to take a bat and glide very low over the crowds.

The Buffalo Bayou, in late spring, is apparently quite good for warblers and vireos, and is the most reliable place in Houston for Philadelphia Vireo and Tropical Parula (although I saw neither in my brief visits). North of the Bayou, in the Heights, there are scattered reports of Red-Vented Bulbul.

Red-Vented Bulbul hotspots: https://s3.amazonaws.com/core-produ...e23e64eec2bfb3fe0fa7b7ef5fedd097cd11358db8ce9

13th April, 6.20pm-8:20pm
Birds: 20+ Cliff Swallow, 5 Broad-Winged Hawk, 1 American Kestrel, 4 Black-Crowned Night-Heron, 1 Northern Cardinal, 10+ Starling, 3 Rock Dove, 2 Blue Jay, 5 Mourning Dove, 5 Common Grackle
Other Wildlife: 300,000+ Mexican Free-Tailed Bat

14th April, 7.40pm-8.20pm
Birds: 2 Broad-Winged Hawk, 1 Ruby-Throated Hummingbird
Other Wildlife: 300,000+ Mexican Free-Tailed Bat

Rice University

Article about Rice University birding: http://magazine.rice.edu/2017/02/a-birds-eye-view/
Birdwatchers at the Rice University: http://www.cintylee.org/#/guiding-services/

I made a brief visit here from neighbouring Hermann Park, having heard a lot of good stuff about this - it's one of the top migration hotspots in the city. I didn't record anything notable, but one professor regularly does dawn bird surveys around the campus oak trees.
 

Paul Collins

Well-known member
South Coast

Overview

These are coastal sites covered with my bird-guide Mike Austin on 14th April, aiming for waders, marsh birds and migrant warblers.

Sites: (1) White Memorial Park, Anahuac (2) Chambers County roads (30 Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge (4) Bolivar Peninsula, mudflats and North Tuna Road (5) Hook's Wood, High Island (6) Cedar Hill Park, Wallisville

White Memorial Park, Anahuac

Website: https://tpwd.texas.gov/huntwild/wildlife/wildlife-trails/utc/anahuac-loop

A large area of pine forest over well-kept lawns, it has the feel of a wild golf-course. There is a Rodeo here on some weekends, so we got there very early to avoid possible Good Friday crowds. Targeting Red-Headed Woodpecker which are easy to find here, particularly around the car-park where they drum on the pylons. Herons and Ibis fly over from their roosts on the Trinity River. Otherwise it was quite quiet and warblers were surprisingly tricky to find during my visit.

14th April, 7am-7.30am
Birds: 3 Red-Headed Woodpecker (lifer), 1 Great-Crested Flycatcher (lifer), 6 Killdeer (2 adults with chicks), 1 Ruby-Crowned Kinglet, 1 Pine Warbler, Red-Winged Blackbird, Little Blue Heron, Tricoloured Heron, Cattle Egret, Snowy Egret, White-Faced Ibis (lifer), 1 Red-Shouldered Hawk, 1 Swainson's Hawk, Chimney Swift, Mourning Dove, Starling. Also heard Blue-Headed Vireo, Carolina Wren and Red-Eyed Vireo (all would have been lifers).
Other Animals: dead Virginia's Opossum

Chambers County roads

Roads leading to the Anahuac NWR. A mixture of prairie and marsh, yielding typical species like Eastern Meadowlark, Scissor-Tailed Flycatcher, Eastern Bluebird, Brown-Headed Cowbird, Eastern Kingbird, Crested Caracara and other raptors in migration. Boat-Tailed Grackle, a grackle more commonly found in Florida and Louisiana, creeps in here.

14th April, 7.30am-7.50am
Birds: 5+ Eastern Meadowlark (lifer), 4 Eastern Bluebird, 1 Broad-Winged Hawk, 1 Red-Shouldered Hawk, Boat-Tailed Grackle, 2 Eastern Kingbird, 4 Brown-Headed Cowbird, Northern Mockingbird, Northern Cardinal, Mourning Dove, Rock Dove, Common Grackle

Anahuac NWR

Website: https://www.fws.gov/refuge/anahuac/
Recent Bird Sightings: http://ebird.org/ebird/hotspot/L128874

A must-visit - 34,000 acres of marsh, prairie and scattered woods with rich birdlife. The Willows, a tract of trees near the entrance, is a magnet for migrant songbirds, waders and herons. The pools along this tract was my favourite spot, with many new waders at close quarters, mainly Long-Billed Dowitchers, Black-Necked Stilt and Greater Yellowlegs, with pepperings of Least Sandpiper. Although this section can be done by foot, most of the reserve is "drive-thru", but this can be the best way of getting very close to birds which feed along the roadsides (such as Black-Necked Stilt, Forster's Tern, Neotropic Cormorant and Rails). We got incredibly close to skulking Brown Thrasher and Marsh Wren, the latter which sang out in the open.

14th April, 7.50am-11am
Birds: Black-Necked Stilt (lifer), Crested Caracara (lifer), Scissor-Tailed Flycatcher (lifer), Long-Billed Dowitcher (lifer), Hudsonian Whimbrel (lifer), Common Yellowthroat (lifer), Neotropic Cormorant (lifer), 2 Least Bittern (lifer), 1 Orchard Oriole (lifer), Fulvous Whistling-Duck (lifer), Marsh Wren (lifer), 2 King Rail (lifer), 8 Stilt Sandpiper (lifer), 6 Semipalmated Sandpiper (lifer), Cave Swallow (lifer), 3 American Golden-Plover (lifer), Savannah Sparrow, Eastern Kingbird, Ruby-Throated Hummingbird, Eastern Meadowlark, Brown Thrasher, Black Vulture, Brown-Headed Cowbird, Red-Winged Blackbird, Greater Yellowlegs, Black-Bellied Plover, Boat-Tailed Grackle, Northern Harrier, White Ibis, Killdeer, White-Faced Ibis, Roseate Spoonbill, Great Blue Heron, Tricoloured Heron, Least Sandpiper, Great White Egret, American Coot, Purple Gallinule, Common Gallinule, Pied-Billed Grebe, Mottled Duck, Mourning Dove, Laughing Gull, Black-Crowned Night-Heron, Forster's Tern, Little Blue Heron (and pied morph), Barn Swallow, Chimney Swift, Green Heron, Tree Swallow, Turkey Vulture, Swainson's Hawk, 1 Pectoral Sandpiper, 1 Peregrine, Gull-Billed Tern, Cliff Swallow, Lesser Yellowlegs. Also heard Sedge Wren and Sora (both potential lifers).
Other Animals: American Bullfrog, Alligator, Nutria (aka Coypu).

Bolivar Peninsula

Recent Bird Sightings: http://ebird.org/ebird/hotspot/L248017?yr=all&m=&rank=mrec

The Bolivar Flats Shorebird Sanctuary, on the Bolivar Peninsula long sandy beach with mudflats. I've never seen such large numbers of waders, nor at such close range, nor in such favourable light and weather conditions. Truly one of the best ID experiences a foreign birdwatcher can have, with waders of all sorts left, right and centre. A few pairs of Wilson's Plovers nest on the dunes along with Horned Larks.

The nearby North Tuna Road is a nesting site for White-Tailed Kite, which can also be seen hunting around the Sanctuary, and in the surrounding farm tracks we found Seaside Sparrow, Nelson's Sharp-Tailed Sparrow and Clapper Rail.

14th April, 11.30am-2pm
Birds: 2 Clapper Rail (lifer), 5+ Nelson's Sharp-Tailed Sparrow (lifer), 2 White-Tailed Kite (lifer), 1 Wilson's Plover (lifer), 1 Snowy Plover (lifer), 20+ Piping Plover (lifer), 1 Long-Tailed Duck (only 10th record for Texas according to my guide), 5 "Western" Willet (subspecies from "Eastern Willet", likely to be split in near future), "Eastern" Willet, 1 Pectoral Sandpiper, 1 Merlin, 1 Collared Dove, 8 Lesser Scaup, Black-Bellied Plover, Turkey Vulture, 1 Osprey, 2 Yellow-Crowned Night-Heron, 3 Loggerhead Shrike, 2 Ring-Billed Gull, Sanderling, 1 American Herring Gull, 3 Horned Lark, 1 Green Heron, Brown Pelican, Gull-Billed Tern, American Avocet, Laughing Gull, Black Skimmer, American White Pelican, 1 Knot, Dunlin, Blue-Winged Teal, Snowy Egret, Little Blue Heron, Great White Egret, Least Tern, Semipalmated Plover, Western Sandpiper, 1 Reddish Egrets, 2 Semipalmated Sandpiper, 1 Ruddy Turnstone, Black-Necked Stilt, 10+ Royal Tern, Least Sandpiper, Long-Billed Dowitcher, Common Grackle, Tree Swallow, Neotropic Cormorant, Double-Crested Cormorant,, Roseate Spoonbill, Great Blue Heron, Sandwich (Cabot's) Tern, Greater Yellowlegs, Savannah Sparrow, Cattle Egret, Boat-Tailed Grackle, Northern Mockingbird, Scissor-Tailed Flycatcher, House Sparrow, Red-Winged Blackbird, Brown-Headed Cowbird, Rock Dove, Eastern Meadowlark

Hook's Wood, at Boy Scouts Wood, High Island

High Island Website: http://www.birdinghighisland.com/birdinglocations1.htm
Recent Bird Sightings: http://ebird.org/ebird/hotspot/L297250

My guide was a little reticent about visiting the Boy Scouts Wood, of which Hook's Wood is a small section - despite it being a "must-do" site - because it was likely to be seriously crowded, and we had plans to visit Sabine's Wood the following day (which he considered superior). The set-up there is totally different from anything I've experienced in Europe. When you arrive at Boy Scouts Wood, a very unassuming forest in a coastal cul-de-sac, there is a wooden shack where you pay your entrance fee, and a mini "theatre" of tiered wooden benches all facing a bird-feeding station. Here, several dozen birders sit with binoculars and long lenses pointed at the feeders, eagerly salivating for the next rarity. As there were only individual counts of each warbler species (nothing like the hundreds that can be seen in a single day), we only had a brief wander around Hook's Wood, the more shaded and quieter alternative.

14th April, 2.50pm-3.10pm
Birds: 1 Hooded Warbler (lifer), 1 Grey Catbird, 6 Turkey Vulture, Brown-Headed Cowbird, Common Grackle, Northern Cardinal

Cedar Hill Park, Wallisville

Bird Checklist: http://ebird.org/ebird/tx/printableList?regionCode=L283544&yr=all&m=12

A good spot for vireos and Swainson's Warbler, although we only heard the latter and saw one vireo species. Avoiding the midday heat and crowds at High Island, we came back this way towards Houston.

14th April, 4pm-4.15pm
Birds: 2 White-Eyed Vireo (lifer), 1 Black-Crested Titmouse (lifer), 1 Carolina Wren (lifer), 2 Tufted Titmouse, 3 Northern Cardinal, 1 Eastern Bluebird. Also heard Northern Parula, Blue-Headed Vireo, Swainson's Warbler and Red-Bellied Woodpecker.
Other Animals: Green Anole, Brown Anole.
 

Paul Collins

Well-known member
EAST (Louisiana Border)

Overview

These are eastern sites along the Louisiana border, covered with my bird-guide Mike Austin on 15th April. Targets were migrant warblers (Swainson's, Prothonotary and Kentucky mainly) and woodland species.

Sites: (1) Boykin Spring Recreation Park, Angelina Forest State Park (2) Martin Dies Junior State Park (3) Sabine Woods

Boykin Spring Recreation Park, Angelina Forest State Park

Pineywoods, 3hrs' drive north of Houston. Targeting Red-Cockaded Woodpecker, Brown-Headed Nuthatch, Bachman's Sparrow, territorial Yellow-Breasted Chat and eastern wooded prairie birds. The woodpeckers were very vocal and easy to see, and let us get very close; the nuthatches less so, keeping high up to the crowns of the pines. Bachman's Sparrow was frustratingly elusive, but its absence was made up for by splendidly displaying Yellow-Breasted Chat (one of my favourite birds on the trip), Indigo Bunting, Blue Grosbeak and a rare pair of Mississippi Kites passing through.

On the Pineywoods habitat:
From the Texas wildlife dioramas at Houston's Museum of Natural Science:
"Extensive Piney Woods habitat occupies the eastern part of our state. Houston is very near the extreme southwest boundary of this habitat; from here it continues north towards the Red River and east well into neighbouring Louisiana . . . With its high density of tall trees, many of which are suitable to build nest cavities in, the East Texas Piney Woods harbours several species of woodpeckers, including the endangered Red-Cockaded Woodpecker . . . Piney Woods historically dominated much of the Eastern United States prior to use for lumber and clearance for expansion."

15th April, 7.30am-8.40am
Birds: 6 Red-Cockaded Woodpecker (lifer), 4 Brown-Headed Nuthatch (lifer), 1 Indigo Bunting (lifer), 1 Blue Grosbeak (lifer), 2 Mississippi Kite (lifer), 1 Yellow-Breasted Chat (lifer), 1 Prairie Warbler (lifer), 10 Pine Warbler, 1 Ruby-Throated Hummingbird, 30 Red-Winged Blackbird, 1 White-Eyed Vireo, 3 Orchard Oriole, 4 American Crow, 2 Northern Cardinal, 1 Turkey Vulture, 1 Black Vulture, 2 Brown-Headed Cowbird. Also heard Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher, Bachman's Sparrow, Downy Woodpecker and White-Eyed Vireo.
Other Animals (all roadkill, but indicative of the typical mammal life in the area): 3 Armadillo, 1 Virginia's Opossum, 1 Striped Skunk, 1 Raccoon

Martin Dies Junior State Park

Website: http://tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/martin-dies-jr

730acres of piney woods with cypress swamp, as close a representation of Louisiana as you can hope for in Texas. A good spot for Prothonotary and Swainson's Warbler, and also for mosquitoes! We didn't stay here therefore too long as Mike sympathised with my pain - only until we saw the birds we came here for. They were incredibly difficult to track down, despite being typically easy species to see - maybe there weren't enough mosquitoes to feed on?!

15th April, 9.15am-10.30am
Birds: 2 Prothonotary Warbler (lifer), 2 Swainson's Warbler (lifer), 2 Yellow-Throated Warbler, 4 Anhinga, 4 Wood Duck, 1 Summer Tanager, 2 Red-Bellied Woodpecker, 4 Purple Martin, 1 Cave Swallow, 1 Great Blue Heron, 4 Ruby-Throated Hummingbird, 4 Eastern Kingbird, 5 Black Vulture, 1 Red-Shouldered Hawk, 4 Northern Cardinal.
Also heard Eastern Wood-Pewee (surprisingly difficult to locate this common species), Pileated Woodpecker, Red-Eyed Vireo, Red-Headed Woodpecker, Hairy Woodpecker (an uncommon species here), White-Eyed Vireo and Northern Parula.

Sabine Woods

Map: http://houstonaudubon.org/sanctuaries/high-island/maps.html
Recent Bird Sightings: http://www.texasbirds.org/locationDetail.php?locationId=20

WOW! This was well worth bearing the anticipation, the heat and the mosquitoes for. And this was a slow day for migration!

A significant tract of chenier woods, consisting of live oaks and a natural slough. Its location in extreme southeastern Texas, just meters from the Gulf of Mexico which you can see through the trees, makes this refuge one of the most important stopover oasis for neotropical migrants. It's a small winding labyrinth of understory woodland, creating a tempting tangle of branches for exhausted migrants to drop into. Elusive Kentucky's and Hooded Warblers crept through the leaf litter. There are also open field areas with scrubs, allowing isolated views of migrants - one highlight being a Yellow-Billed Cuckoo. A small pond area attracts warblers and buntings, and in a few minutes we had Northern Waterthrush, Yellow Warbler, Painted Bunting, Indigo Bunting, Red-Eyed Vireo and Prothonotary Warbler all crowding around a water faucet to drink.

Birds: 2 Kentucky Warbler (lifer), 2 Red-Eyed Vireo (lifer), 1 Yellow-Billed Cuckoo (lifer), 12 Scarlet Tanager (lifer), 1 Northern Waterthrush (lifer), 2 Swainson's Warbler, 4 Painted Bunting, 3 Indigo Bunting, 1 Magnificent Frigatebird, 5+ Prothonotary Warbler, 1 Scissor-Tailed Flycatcher, 1 Willet, 1 Tricoloured Heron, 1 Blue-Headed Vireo, 2 Hooded Warbler, 2 Yellow Warbler, 4+ Eastern Kingbird, 1 Purple Martin, 50+ Tree Swallow, 3 Brown Thrasher, 2 Downy Woodpecker, 1 Loggerhead Shrike, 1 Grey Catbird, 1 Swainson's Hawk, 1 Pileated Woodpecker, 1 Red-Bellied Woodpecker, 1 Green Heron, 2 Ruby-Throated Hummingbird, Common Grackle, 2 Great-Crested Flycatcher, Blue Jay, Northern Rough-Winged Swallow, Bank Swallow, Barn Swallow, 10+ White Ibis. Also heard Rose-Breasted Grosbeak, Sedge Wren and Yellow-Breasted Chat.
 

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