Saturday, October 02, 2010

Galveston/High Island September Birding Trip

We just returned from a quick trip to Galveston and High Island. As a birding trip, it was a bit disappointing, though we did add three new birds to the Life List (so that was really good). The bird below is a juvenile Red Headed Woodpecker. For some reason, I thought I already had that one (maybe I hadn't written it down).

I was a bit disappointed in High Island's Smith Woods. I guess we just go there at the wrong time of year. The site was so grown up, I had a hard time getting to the major water area. Most of what I saw were Neotropic Cormorants (and an alligator). There was some sort of hawk which I heard, but was unable to identify. And, of course, this woodpecker, which was the highlight of the trip.

We travelled across to the Bolivar Peninsula across the Ferry -- one of my favorite things to do. I kept seeing a lot of birds that I did not think were Laughing Gulls. One might have been a Bonaparte's Gull, but I couldn't be sure. This bird, caught flying, is a Sandwich Tern. I knew this was a new one for me, as I hadn't recognized the white tip on the bill.

This pic is not the best quality, but the bird was flying high and far away. It's a juvenile Magnificent Frigate Bird! My friend Susy had seen one at Galveston several years ago, and I have been wanting to add this to my list ever since. This one, along with 2-3 others were flying off the Bolivar Peninsula coast, closer to High Island than to the Lighthouse end.

Back on the Ferry... we kept seeing sea mammals (I tend to call the dolphins, but I believe that in Galveston Bay they are actually Porpoises). Every time I would see one, they would go under again before I could take a picture. I was a bit surprised to see that I had actually captured a few on film. I also have a lot of pictures of blank water. :-)

In Galveston, we drove down Strand Street and back up Harborside. Some of the businesses have changed, but things looked mostly the same. We drove out to East Beach, which was a bit of an eyeopener. Along the road to the official "East Beach" there used to be several eating places and bars. Now there is nothing (thanks to Ike, I'm sure). There are signs marking the area as a future wildlife preserve. Not surprising, this is where I took most of the rest of my bird pics.

My favorite is this Reddish Egret. These birds are not overly common, compared to their white cousins and the Great Blue Heron. I saw more than one of these on the trip, but this one was a real ham. He was obviously chasing a fish or something.

Of the rest of the Egret family, my favorite is the Snowy. I think it's because they have black legs, but bright yellow feet. And like most Egrets and Herons, have that wispy quality to their feathers. This Snowy was across the road from the Reddish Egret.

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