Archive for the ‘Birding’ Category

Notes from Birding 101: April 13, 2013

Monday, April 15th, 2013

Brown-Pelican

by Greg Whittaker, Animal Husbandry Manager at Moody Gardens

Excellent weather – walked around Aquarium Pyramid and retention ditch to Colonel Paddlewheeler dock.  Then walked the path around Palm Beach and to the Lake Madeline channel. We went back past the Learning Place and ended at the hotel near the pool.

By my count we saw 33 species listed here in taxonomic order (not the order we saw them):

Mottled Duck, Blue-winged Teal, Common Loon, Brown Pelican, Neotropic Cormorant, Double-crested Cormorant, Snowy Egret, Tricolored Heron, Yellow-crowned Night Heron, Peregrine Falcon, Black-bellied Plover, Killdeer, Black-necked Stilt, Solitary Sandpiper, Greater Yellowlegs, Willet, Ruddy Turnstone, Western Sandpiper, Least Sandpiper, Baird’s Sandpiper, Dunlin, Laughing Gull, Forster’s Tern, Rock Pigeon, Eurasian Collared Dove, White-winged Dove, Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, Barn Swallow, Northern Mockingbird, European Starling, Scarlet Tanager, Great-tailed Grackle and House Sparrow.

Birding 201 is next Saturday, April 20 and there is a limit to the number of people we can take.  We will leave Moody Gardens in a van and spend about 2-3 hours out in the field.  Please respond and let me know if you are interested in going so we can reserve a seat.  To reserve a spot, please call 409-683-4101 no later than Wednesday, April 17.

Get out and see the birds this week, there are lots of them here on the island and lots of other birders to help you identify things.  I just tallied what I’ve seen since Thursday when Featherfest started and have 103 species.

Explore Galveston Wildlife with Birding 201

Thursday, November 12th, 2009

By: Animal Husbandry Manager Greg Whittaker

Held on the third Saturday of each month, Birding 201 always seems to bring to light the natural beauty of Galveston. The recent Birding 201 trip was no exception, introducing the six participants we had to a great variety of wild birds.

The weather cooperated for this Saturday event. We visited Galveston’s 51st Street viaduct marsh and noted a few early waterfowl and some herons/egrets.  We then crossed over to Pelican Island to visit the TAMUG wetlands area.  The highlight here was a pair of scissortail flycatchers perched on the fence, making for some good photo opportunities before we even got out of the van. Some good looks at black crowned night herons and red-winged blackbirds before we headed east to the Pier 19 dock area, then onto the Corps Woods near the Ferry Landing.  A few smaller birds were there, but not a major hotspot.

We drove east down Seawall Boulevard to the very end, then south through Big Reef and onto east beach.  We completed the loop around Condo Road back to Seawall.  This section of the trip offered the best diversity of species and great behavioral observations of marsh and shore birds as well as a couple pairs of northern Harriers hunting as teams.  By my count, we saw all of 49 species on the trip.   In taxonomic order, we saw:  Pied-billed Grebe, Brown Pelican, Neotropic Cormorant, Double-crested Cormorant, Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, Snowy Egret, Tricolored Heron, Cattle Egret, Black-crowned Night Heron, White Ibis, Roseate Spoonbill, Osprey, Northern Harrier, Broad-winged Hawk, Clapper Rail, American Coot, Black-bellied Plover, Killdeer, Black-necked Stilt, Greater Yellowlegs, Willet, Marbled Godwit, Ruddy Turnstone, Semipalmated Sandpiper, Western Sandpiper, Short-billed Dowitcher, Laughing Gull, Ring-billed Gull, Herring Gull, Caspian Tern, Royal Tern, Black Skimmer, Rock Pigeon, Eurasian Collared Dove, Mourning Dove, Common Nighthawk, Belted Kingfisher, Downy Woodpecker, Eastern Phoebe, Scissor-tail Flycatcher, Loggerhead Shrike, Cliff Swallow, Northern Mockingbird, European Starling, Red-winged Blackbird, Eastern Meadowlark, Great-tailed Grackle, and House Sparrow.

Since the trip, I’ve noted a big influx of migratory species showing up.  Osprey’s have moved in with good numbers, Sandhill Cranes and White pelicans have started to show up, some waterfowl arriving.

Someone also pointed out a Quaker’s Parrot nest on Avenue S just west of 53rd Street on the south side (adjacent to the old police station).  I drove by slowly yesterday and there were several parrots noisily eating the palm fruit in the adjacent tree.

Now is a good time to check out the bird population on the island. Get out and enjoy them while they’re here.

Greg Whittaker is Moody Gardens animal husbandry manager and, as a birding enthusiast, frequently leads free Birding 101 on the first Saturday and Birding 201 on the third Saturdays of each month.