Monday, August 17, 2009

Beach Birding Update

By Billy Sandifer

On August 17th, Mel Cooksey reported 700 Buff-bellied Sandpipers at the sod farm off Highway 664, a Zone-tailed hawk and Least Grebes being regular at Pollywog Pond and an unusually high number of shorebirds on the mud flats on the West side of Oso Bay. We saw our first Orchard Oriole of the season on July 22nd, and the Ruby-throated Hummingbirds are beginning to move though in small numbers. This will increase dramatically in September. By the third week of September, we usually have over 70 Ruby-thoated and Black-chinned Hummingbirds in our yard here in Flour Bluff daily.

There are LOTS of birds on the beach. I observed 2 Hudsonian Gobwits on July 20th. These birds are typically not seen here this time of year. I'm seeing more than 20,000 Black Terns daily as well as good numbers of Tri-colored, Little Blue and Great White Herons, Snowy and Cattle Egrets, Yellow-crowned Night-Herons and occasional Reddish Egrets migrating daily. Some Red Knots are usually seen daily in the area between the 15 1/2 and 20 mile beach although numbers are small. Piping, Semi-palmated, Snowy and Wilson's Plover are seen daily as are RuddyTurnstones, Sanderlings, Willets, Long-billed Curlews, Ring-billed and Laughing Gulls, Brown Pelicans and all of the resident and migrating Tern species. Occasional "peep' and Spotted Sandpipers are seen as are Turkey Vultures, Caracaras and White-tailed hawks. September is THE month to see a Sabine's Gull in Texas, and the Padre Island National Seashore is the most reliable place to see this bird in TX. I have 1-3 sightings every September. The tremendous numbers of birds on the beaches of the Padre Island National Seashore this time of year is genuinely spectacular and one of the most overlooked wonders in the Natural World of Texas. Enjoy.

Capt. Billy

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