Monday, March 31, 2014

3/31 Padre Island Bird Tour

When I got to the Padre Island Visitor Center, I saw a sign for a 2:30 p.m. bird tour, so I signed up even though it was a couple of hours away.  It was a pleasant wait because I entertained myself walking on the beach and sitting in my vehicle with the windows open--advantage to taking your home and recliner with you at all times!

It turned out that I was the only person who signed up, so I got a private tour in a park vehicle by a very knowledgeable lady.  I could not get good photos of everything I saw, but here are a few photos of birds. 

This little bird was very friendly, hopping around underneath the picnic table I was sitting on.  She is a female great-tailed grackle.
And here is another female great-tailed grackle with her mate.  Note how much bigger and darker he is.
These are American coots.  They are easily identifiable by their white bills.
These are American white pelicans.  They are at least twice as big as the more common brown pelicans.  Note the bump on top of their bills.  Apparently, this has some appeal to the opposite sex because they lose them immediately after the mating season.  (Why does this remind me of star-bellied sneetches?)

This is a black-bellied whistling duck.  Never had seen any of this one before.  There were a pair, but the males and females look identical so I couldn't tell which was which. 

Laughing gulls are the most common gulls in this area.  They have been hanging around the campground looking for handouts.

These are elegant terns.  They are large birds and have black topknots and orange bills.  Notice that two of them have spread their wings to attract the females.
This is a group of sandwich terns. They have black bills with a tiny orange bit on the tip.  Note that there is one elegant teal to the right for comparison.  Sandwich terns also have the topknot of black feathers on their heads, but they are smaller and have the black instead of orange bills.

 These are northern shoveler ducks in a small pond in the dunes. 

And, of course, a great blue heron.  I have seen hundreds of these, but I thought this one posed very nicely for the camera.
Aransas National Wildlife Refuge is near here.  I got the location of where they are currently feeding the whooping cranes that live there, so I am hoping to be able to stop by on my way north in a few days.  It would be incredibly exciting to see some whooping cranes close up!!  Apparently, there was a red tide a while back that killed a lot of the shrimp the cranes feed on, so they are feeding them because they are much too rare to let them starve.  

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