Texas 2017

~WILSON’S PLOVER was one of my favorite birds of the entire trip. It helps that the birds were fairly accessible and provided some good photo ops. Sargent Beach, 03/31/17.~

Tricia and I spent nearly a week in Texas on a family birding vacation with Tricia’s sister Carolyn, her husband Bill, and their daughter Cameron. We stayed at Bill’s friend Joe Zanone’s beach house at Sargent Beach, which is a barrier island between the Intracoastal Waterway and the Gulf of Mexico.

~What a beautiful bird! American Avocet in Sargent Texas, 04/02/17.~

We flew into Houston and on our first day Bill and I did some brief birding at Hogg Park, walking a trail that bordered the White Oak Bayou. The next day we headed to the beach and did the remainder of our birding at Sargent Beach and two nearby National Wildlife Refuges – San Bernard NWR and Brazoria NWR. We did a good deal of birding right off of Joe’s back deck, looking over the Intracoastal Waterway into the marsh. Both NWRs were were loaded with birds and feature extensive wildlife drives which allowed us to cover a lot of territory in the car. As good as the refuges were, my best birding experience was when Joe took Bill and I to the north end of the island. The “road” that heads out this way is just brutal. It is not really a road, having just been created by vehicle traffic, and it is littered with absolutely massive potholes. Bill and I tried to head out that way on an earlier occasion, but had to turn back because the road was too bad. Joe, however, knew the road and knew how to drive it. He drove us way out, pretty much in the middle of nowhere; we eventually saw the fenceposts that border San Bernard NWR. We had not seen many Osprey the whole trip, but out here, for some reason, there were at least a half a dozen Osprey, all perched either on the ground or very low perches, something that I’d never seen before and found fascinating. I really enjoyed the feeling of being pretty much in the middle of nowhere; it was just us and the birds.

~This is one bird that I really wanted to see, and I was flipping out when we saw a pair near the entrance to San Bernard NWR. I was convinced, for some reason that it would be tougher to find this bird, but we ended up seeing several in the time we were there. SCISSOR-TAILED FLYCATCHER, San Bernard NWR, 03/31/17.~

The whole area is extremely birdy, but I think because we never really birded any significantly different habitats, I felt that our total number of birds was on the low side. We had a total of 108 species in what amounted to five days in the area (I’ve included a list of all species at the bottom of this post). Of those 108 species, I managed to get 12 life birds:

*Neotropic Cormorant, White-winged Dove, Long-billed Curlew, Wilson’s Plover, White-tailed Kite, Least Grebe, White-tailed Hawk, Vermilion Flycatcher, Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, Gull-billed Tern, Snowy Plover, and Western Sandpiper.*

Normally the raptors on any list would be among my favorites, but I think because we got such limited looks at both the White-tailed Hawk And the White-tailed Kite they don’t rate as high as I would have thought. My favorites were the WILSON’S PLOVER, SNOWY PLOVER, and of course the SCISSOR-TAILED FLYCATCHER. All three are beautiful birds that we got really good looks at and photos too. The LEAST GREBE was also pretty amazing to see, but it was miles out and could only seen with the scope.

It was a really great birding trip, and I hope to get back there again some day soon. Enjoy the photos.

~A cute little SNOWY PLOVER on the far side of Sargent Beach island, 04/01/17.~
~Grackles were extremely numerous just about everywhere we went; we had three different species, Boat-tailed Grackle, Great-tailed Grackle, and Common Grackle. This Great-tailed Grackle was at Sargent Beach on 03/31/17.~
~I’ve come to the conclusion that all birders love shrikes. One of Joe’s friends told the story of a birder they knew that arrived on the island and jumped out of the car going absolutely nuts about a Loggerhead Shrike. I wasn’t that bad, I swear. LOSH at Sargent Beach, 03/30/17.~
Willets are everywhere at the beach. I took advantage and photographed them a good bit. At one point I had to make a rule for myself to not take anymore perched Willet shots. WILL at Sargent Beach, 03/31/17.~
~But I still allowed myself to take them in flight. Willet at Sargent Beach, 03/31/17.~
~I really enjoyed seeing the Whimbrels, plus, I’d never had them in the States before having only ever seen them in Ireland. Whimbrels in flight over the Intracoastal Waterway, 04/01/17.~
One of about 15 Piping Plovers I had at Sargent Beach, 03/31/17.~
~Ruddy Turnstones on a nice perch. Sargent Beach, 03/31/17.~
Always a favorite, the ever-so-cute Semipalmated Plover at Sargent Beach, 03/31/17.~
~Osprey at the far end of Sargent Beach, 04/02/17.~
I wish I’d gotten a better photo of a Crested Caracara, they are such an interesting looking bird. Sargent Beach 04/01/17.~

~POOR PHOTOS OF LIFERS SECTION~

I have this as a WESTERN SANDPIPER. Please leave a comment if you think this is not accurate. Sargent Beach, 04/02/17.~
~WHITE-TAILED HAWK in flight. We saw several of these birds, and they were stubborn, never allowing for a photo. San Bernard NWR, 03/31/17.~
~I have this bird as a Neotropic Cormorant, Hogg Park 03/29/17.~
White-tailed Kite hunting over a field. We saw this bird on our way to San Bernard NWR, 03/31/17.~

 

13 thoughts on “Texas 2017”

    1. Thanks Kyle. Honestly I was sort of disappointed with my pics, I felt like I had a good amount of good shots but not many standouts. Matt

  1. WOW!! Great trip! Love the Whimbrel in flight photo and managing to get a the photo of the White-tailed Hawk in flight! VERY COOL!!

    Scotty

    1. It was a great trip Scotty, and I really like the Whimbrel shot too – not sure why but it just looks cool to me. Matt

  2. So jealous. Just finished a quick three day trip to south FL & the glades One of our targets was the White-tailed kite. Sadly, we struck out on that bird. Congrats on the kite & other lifers!

    1. As you can tell from the photo, we only got very distant looks at the kite. It was early in the trip, so I was hoping for better looks but we never saw another one. You never know how it’s going to go. I assume you will be coming north soon? Matt

  3. So glad you had a great time. Texas birding is certainly a memorable experience. Awesome shots, as always, Matt!! Karen

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