Date: March 16, 2015
Weather: mostly sunny
Temperature: start 59º
Wildlife count: Swamp Rabbit, Alligator, Red-eared Slider, Dolphin
Birds: Boat-tailed Grackle, Red-winged Blackbird, Belted Kingfisher, American Kestrel, Black Vulture, European Starling, Sanderling, Brown Pelican, Ring-billed, Herring, Bonaparte’s, and Laughing Gull, Forster’s Tern and Royal Tern, Great Blue Heron, Willet, American Avocet, Piping Plover, Neo-tropic Cormorant, Long-billed Curlew, Great-tailed Grackle, Eastern Meadowlark, Crested Caracara, Roseate Spoonbill, Eurasian-collared Dove, Red-tailed Hawk, Northern Mockingbird, Great Egret, Little Blue Heron, Barn Swallow, Purple Martin, White-tailed Kite, Savannah Sparrow, Pectoral Sandpiper, Lesser Yellowlegs, Black Skimmer, Marbled Godwit, Least & Western Sandpipers, Dunlin, Blue-winged & Green-winged Teal, Black-bellied, American Golden, Snowy, Piping, Semipalmated & Wilson’s Plover, Short-billed Dowitcher, Pied-billed Grebe, Ruddy Turnstone, White Pelican, Turkey Vulture, Loggerhead Shrike, Brown-headed Cowbird, White-faced Ibis, American Coot, Northern Shoveler, Common Gallinule, Mottled Duck, Black-necked Stilt, Snowy Egret, Killdeer, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Vermillion Flycatcher, Northern Cardinal, Wilson’s Snipe,
With half of the day to bird, we drove to the Bolivar Peninsula, starting at Rollover Pass. Most of the birds there were way too far away to be seen, even with the scope. We tried Yacht Basin Road, and recognized the old VW van in the field, which we had seen when we were here 2 years ago. The van was left from Hurricane Ike, 2008.
The 17th Street Jetty was the next stop and this was the bonanza! The flats were covered with birds – hundreds and hundreds of them. We watched as several flocks of shorebirds took to the air in acrobatic formation, moving together as one organism, first one way and then the next, folding back on itself – it was an amazing sight to behold. From there, we drove out Rettilion Road to the beach and back toward the jetty, were we were able to see even more birds – what a treat!
Lunch was at Whataburger at Winnie, after which we went to the refuge and quickly drove Shoveler’s Pond, arriving at the VIS a little before 2 to be able to relieve Jim that he might drive in to Austin to pick up Karen. We had a great time at the VIS, with lots of visitors and we sold quite a bit of goodies.
Dinner was brats on the grill, baked beans and coleslaw. After the dishes were cleaned up, we joined the other volunteers for the campfire and discussion. Tonight it revolved around the Intercoastal Waterway and how that drastically altered the hydrology of the barrier islands. I had not realized that by cutting the Intercoastal, no fresh water was able to access the barrier islands. That changed all of the marsh to saltwater marsh on those islands, drastically changing their habitat. It was an interesting discussion.