Monday, September 14, 2009

Suter Wildlife Refuge Report

As reported by Mary Mauel...

Location: Suter Wildlife Refuge
Observation date: 9/8/09
Notes: The weather was overcast from rains the night before. The sun did not come out until 10:30am. The trails were muddy from the good rain and there was water in the creek where the bridge one crosses before entering the board walk. That is where the Louisiana Waterthrushes were observed. More rain is expected here at this site during September 9-12, 2009. A possible female American Wigeon was spotted today. However someone else and I will have to verify it because I could not see it clear enough with my binoculars. It was mixed in with the Mottled Ducks on the shore line to the right of the end of the board walk. Good birding!
It was cooler on this morning and probably about 75 degress F. Butterfly species observed were 7 Western Pygmy Blue, and 1 male Pipevine Swallowtail. The butterflies were observed from entering the South Entrance to the park. The Western Pygmy Blue is only observed along the shore line by entering at the South Entrance to the park and walking down to the shore line and observing them on their larval host plant. There were some Sea Oxeye Daisy still blooming which they do like to nectar on also.
Number of species: 44

Black-bellied Whistling-Duck: 12— Flew over head while on the board walk.
Mottled Duck: 20
Pied-billed Grebe: 7— Swmimming and diving in the bay.
American White Pelican: 100
Brown Pelican: 6
Neotropic Cormorant: 8
Least Bittern: 1
Great Blue Heron: 25
Great Egret: 15
Snowy Egret: 5
Little Blue Heron: 1
Tricolored Heron: 3
Reddish Egret: 2—Observed 1 as the white morph feeding in the bay near the shore line and the
dark morph perched on top of a tree like shrub near the lagoon.
Green Heron: 2—Feeding for fish along the lagoon.
Black-crowned Night-Heron: 1— Observed the adult standing in the lagoon at 7 am.
Yellow-crowned Night-Heron: 2—Observed the adult in the bay and the immature in the lagoon.
White Ibis: 1—Feeding by the end of the board walk along the shore line.
Roseate Spoonbill: 7
Sora: 3—Juvenile was feeding on the dry land picking up washed up small fish and other items of interest right where the water meets the dirt. He was flicking up his beigy brown tail for about 10 minutes having a good time feeding after the good rains filled up the lagoon and the Oso Bay on Monday night, September 7, 2009. The waters in the bay were high along all the shores. The adults were feeding along the lagoon. Both adults were observed for about 3 hours. It was a good day for herons and rails.
Common Moorhen: 2
American Coot: 4
Black-necked Stilt: 19
American Avocet: 3
Willet: 1—Was in his winter plumage.
Sanderling: 5
Semipalmated Sandpiper: 1
Western Sandpiper: 1
Laughing Gull: 50
Caspian Tern: 2
Forster's Tern: 1
Mourning Dove: 5
Black-chinned Hummingbird: 1
Golden-fronted Woodpecker: 2
Eastern Wood-Pewee: 2
Eastern Phoebe: 1
Couch's Kingbird: 2
Loggerhead Shrike: 2
Nashville Warbler: 1
Yellow Warbler: 2
Louisiana Waterthrush: 3
Northern Cardinal: 2
Red-winged Blackbird: 6
Great-tailed Grackle: 10

Location: Suter Wildlife Refuge
Observation date: 9/3/09
Notes: Sunny, clear, skies; very humid, probably about 77 degrees F. This was the temperature at the beginning of the birding time at 8am and was probably around 87-90 degrees by the end because of the humidity factored in for the day time heating already. Good birding!
Number of species: 34

Mottled Duck: 10—Swimming in the lagoon.
American White Pelican: 75
Brown Pelican: 5
Neotropic Cormorant: 4—In the lagoon.
Least Bittern: 1—Fishing in the lagoon.
Great Blue Heron: 20
Great Egret: 4
Tricolored Heron: 1—Fishing in the lagoon.
Green Heron: 3—The immature and the 2 adults were fishing in the lagoon.
Yellow-crowned Night-Heron: 1—in the lagoon
White Ibis: 1—Only had the brown on the neck remaining as a juvenile.
Roseate Spoonbill: 25
Purple Gallinule: 3—Juveniles foraging with the adult in the lagoon.
Common Moorhen: 2—Foraging in the lagoon.
American Coot: 2—Swimming in the lagoon.
Wilson's Plover: 1—Full breeding plumage.
Black-necked Stilt :15
American Avocet: 1—in breeding plumage in the bay.
Willet: 5
Marbled Godwit: 4
Ruddy Turnstone: 2—Molting between breeding and winter plumage.
Sanderling: 10
Short-billed/Long-billed Dowitcher: 5
Laughing Gull: 50
Black Skimmer: 3
Black-chinned Hummingbird: 3—Nectaring and perching at times by the flowers and shrubs at the Butterfly Garden.
Loggerhead Shrike : 2
Tennessee Warbler: 2
Yellow-throated Warbler: 1—Observed him to be the Interior East with the white lores and had just caught a dragonfly and was working on eating it along the trail.
Northern Cardinal: 2—Coming the sprinkler along the beginning of the trail at the parking lot.
Red-winged Blackbird: 10
Great-tailed Grackle: 6

Friday, September 11, 2009

Join us for the Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony and Grand Opening of Blucher Park

Blucher Park Enhancements to be unveiled at September 17 Grand Opening

Blucher Park, a well-known park popular with birders, has undergone a transformation receiving about $86,000 worth of improvements, which will benefit both the birds and the birders who enjoy them.

The Corpus Christi Convention & Visitors Bureau and the City of Corpus Christi will host a Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony and Grand Opening of the Blucher Park Enhancement Project during a press conference at 11 a.m. September 17, 2009 at the park located at the corner of Carrizo and Blucher streets.

Blucher Park is one of the major "Fall Out" or resting stops along the migratory pathway. The park is known worldwide among the birding community. The goal of the project is to enhance the visitor experience in Blucher Park through a defined trail system and educational signage with the protection of bird habitat at the forefront.

The improvements include a trail system mulched with native wood chips, a pedestrian bridge, eight individual seating units, 12 way-finding markers, removal of invasive plants and the addition of two chimney swift towers within an interpretive kiosk. The Chimney Swift kiosks will serve as nesting and roosting sites for the birds. Improvements will be completed in time for fall migration.

Chimney Swifts are sleek birds with crescent-shaped wings and acrobatic flight patterns. They migrate to North America from the Amazon River Basin each spring to breed and raise their young. They can be seen arriving in Corpus Christi in March and usually make the city their home thru the summer months to roost and nest, leaving the area with the first major cold-front. Large flocks of Chimney Swifts will roost in a single chimney or tower, however only one nesting pair will nest in a chimney at a time. To help conserve the Chimney Swift the CVB partnered with local birders and architects to design the two chimneys.

The CVB spearheaded the Blucher Park Enhancement Project and challenged the public and private sector to fund the $86,000 project with matching funds provided by the CVB. Funding was secured by in-kind services, grants and sponsorships from: Coastal Bend Bays & Estuaries Program, American Birding Association, AEP Texas and the City of Corpus Christi Parks & Recreation Department. The project was generated from the Coastal Bend Nature Tourism Initiative, a project of the CVB.

The Coastal Bend Nature Tourism Initiative fund-raising effort allows stakeholders the ability to improve several sites throughout the area that can draw significantly more visitors when improved, interpreted and packaged for marketing. Blucher Park is the first of three planned park improvements, which have been initiated and organized by the CVB.

It is the goal of the CVB to be a nationally recognized Nature Tourism Destination within five years and internationally renowned in 10 years.

The Coastal Bend alone has an impressive 153 nature & birding sites in the area available to birders and nature lovers year round. For more information on Blucher Park and other birding sites in the Coastal Bend, visit

Bird Sighting Update

As reported by Billy Sandifer

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

I drove the entire length of the Padre Island National Seashore beachfront September 8, 2009. Approximately 20,000 Black Terns showed up in the first 15 miles late in the day…The most seen in some time. Anchovies must be nearshore in that area. A total of 28 Red Knots were observed in small scattered bunches. Lesser numbers of Little Blue Herons, Yellow-crowned Night Herons and Snowy Egrets were observed migrating. At 2:35 p.m. at the 59 mile beach I observed an adult Sabine's Gull steadily headed South about 100 yards offshore. No brown was visable in the wing which leads me to call this individual an adult. I tried in vain to get a picture but the distance was too far away by the time I could get to the camera. Mel Cooksey reports the 2 Brown Noddies are still on the bouy at the Port A. jetties and that a black backed type gull was reported from the 5 mile on the Padre Island National Seashore yesterday afternoon. I never saw the bird and no photo was taken by the observer. Keep your eyes open, it could be a Kelp Gull. Had a Mourning Warbler in the yard this morning and my wife is now tending 17 hummingbird feeders. Numbers seemed down today. One Allens/Rufous first year bird remained among the regulars.

Friday, September 11, 2009

72 Red Knots total, which is the highest count in some time. What is unusual is they are quite scattered instead of in the usual area—7 were at the 43 mile, 17 were at the 58 mile and 4 were at the 59 mile. This is unusual indeed.

Good Birding, Capt. Billy

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Old Friends and New Journeys

As reported by Nan Dietert

Old friends wear well and lately old friends have been responsible for my well-being, both physically and spiritually. These friends have come in two forms; both human and non-human.

Late in the summer I was in need of some knee repair. I needed two good knees for the fall migration and I needed some time for healing, but I was beginning to run out of time. My friends began to offer help on every level. Friends from Austin, where I wished to have the surgery done, took care of me and offered their homes, their support, and home delivery – if needed. And while I took care of our parrot, Lyndon, my friend and husband, took care of all my responsibilities at home, our remarkable Scottish-fold cat, and my beloved willow trees; increasing the amount of water carried to them, from 11 to 17 gallons each evening! My friends in Port Aransas offered anything and everything to speed my recovery. And the birds from Central Texas to the Coastal Bend – filled my inner reservoirs and brought me peace and strength. All of these friends make up my world. These things are my world.

A birder’s world expands though, with the coming of any migration and the fall migration has now begun in earnest. Like birders everywhere, I’ve been waiting for the fall migration since the spring migration ended. The birds are now coming through in numbers large enough that almost everyone is experiencing migrants in their backyards and our birding sites are teaming with birds from a large variety of species.

“Firsts”, of all kinds are showing up on everyone’s check list: the first Northern Harrier, first Peregrine Falcon, first large groups of Blue-winged Teal, first Mississippi Kites, first Sora rail and so on.

Many songbirds came in with last Saturday’s front. When the wind shifted, it was an easy “freight-train” for any migrants that were fattening up and staging to our north. Baltimore Orioles now joined their Orchard Oriole-cousins, and begged to compete in shear numbers for the most numerous beauties in the garden. Many vireos and too many flycatchers to mention came in along with warblers, buntings, tanagers, kingbirds, Dickcissals, and Lark Sparrows! What a sight for a birder’s eyes. There have been so many Yellow-breasted Chats, Mourning Warblers, and Canada Warblers in the Joan and Scott Holt Paradise Pond, that I am truly unable to estimate their numbers. They are at every turn and they are flying across your field of view as you count the birds in front of you!

A few days ago, our first Chuck-will’s-widow of the season came into Paradise Pond and began to hunt while we were watering the small willow trees. Their hunting techniques had been described to me but I’d never seen them before. Like all of birding, it was an experience to remember for a lifetime.

The shear numbers of Black Terns that have recently stacked-up in our area have been remarkable. Look up any time of the day and they are traversing our island – everyday – all day long, and they have been for months.

These birds, that we share our existence with, move into and through our area twice each year. They have sensed “the fall promise” – a promise of food, rest, and survival – if they will travel south across parts of the globe, unknown to them many of them, and led by instincts we are still studying and learning to appreciate. Follow them on their epic journey south and wait for their return in the spring. If you wish, make them a part of your world. Go birding.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Chitter Chatter...

Bird Sightings around town!

From Linda Lanoue on Hwy 188 west of bypass Hwy 35:

August 31, 2009

We went to the Corpus Christi Library today & when we were finished went for a walk in Blucher Park. It was teeming with hummingbirds; they were everywhere. Also warblers: Black-and-white, Yellow, Oven Birds, huge numbers of Mourning & quite a few Chats, along with Baltimore & Orchard Orioles, Great Crested Flycatchers & Empids. Hummers outnumbered everything else, though, by far.

At home we still have most of the birds from 2 days ago & they've been joined by Mourning & Black-and-white Warblers, an Eastern Wood Pewee & a Summer Tanager. As voracious as these birds are, I'm not sure there will be any berries left for the next group.

We have a mature male cardinal that is more orange than red. Not as bright as an Oriole, but orange enough that I do a double-take every time I get a glimpse of him.

From Lee Hutchins in Sinton:

This may be of some interest…Last Friday, August 28th, in San Diego, TX while watching the football game I looked up and saw this bird and thought it was a Nighthawk. On its second pass over the field I found that it was a Rock Dove. This Rock Dove was catching insects in the lights. This went on for half the game or longer. I've never seen anything like this before. That Rock Dove must have been mighty short on food.

Scott Holt in Port Aransas reports a 'yard full' of Orchard and Baltimore Orioles after he mowed and turned on the sprinklers. He also reports seeing three Chuck-Will's Widows, an Oven Bird, and a Bell's Vireo among others.

From Bron Rorex in Country Club:
September 1, 2009

Banding was insane Tuesday morning. I didn’t even get inside till almost 1:30pm. Think we banded about 60 ruby-throats, many great-crested Flycatchers & chats, a handful of empids, a Prothonatory warbler, a northern Waterthrush, & a hatch-year mocker. The first net run this morning had 39 ruby-throats plus assorted passerines; started the morning off with a bang. The self-capturing trap does grab some birds; I need to find time to make some more of them; mend my torn net & make more hummer bands

From Mary Mauel at the South Texas Botanical Gardens:

September 1, 2009

This is the beginning of the fall migration. It was overcast. It was thundering in the southwest away from the gardens. The temperature was probably 85 degrees Fahrenheit , and probably winds from the south. Butterfly species observed were 2 Cloudless Sulphur in the Butterfly House, 1 female Queen nectaring on Mistflower, 1 female Pipevine Swallowtail nectaring on Lantana, 2 male Fiery Skipper, 2 Little Yellow, and 1 Sachem. Good birding!

Great Egret:1—Fishing in Oso Creek.

Turkey Vulture:3—Flying over head.

Killdeer:1— Heard over head.

Laughing Gull:2

White-winged Dove:2

Mourning Dove:5

Inca Dove:3—Heard behind the Hummingbird Garden.

Chimney Swift:2

Ruby-throated Hummingbird:10—Observed at the hummingbird feeders.

Western Kingbird:1—Observed at the bird blind by the Tree…Demonstration Area in full breeding plumage.

White-eyed Vireo:1—Heard along the Bird and Butterfly Trail.

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher:1—Observed in full breeding plumage.

Northern Mockingbird:2

Yellow-breasted Chat:1—Observed in the Sensory Garden on the Olive Tree.

Northern Cardinal:3—Observed the male juvenile feeding at the bird blind. The female adults were at the beginning of the Wetlands Trail.

Dickcissel:2—Observed 2 first winter females at the entrance to the Wetlands Trail. They were calling to one another.

Red-winged Blackbird:50—Observed and heard on the grounds of the gardens. Thirty three of them were flying over head.

Baltimore Oriole:2—Both were feeding on Root Beer Berries of the Root Beer Plant in the Sensory Garden. The female was a first year female and the male was in full adult breeding plumage.

House Sparrow:5—At the bird blind.