Port Aransas Nature Preserve Bioblitz 2016-09-24

Yesterday morning @colleenm and I ended up being the only two participants in the first ever Port Aransas Nature Preserve Bioblitz! While initially a little disappointed that no one else showed up, we decided to have fun seeing what we could find out on the trails and boardwalk to the Salt Island observation tower. We ended up having an amazing morning. Too bad no one else got to enjoy it with us!

In addition to being important habitat for many species of birds and other animals, the Port Aransas Nature Preserve at Charlie's Pasture can offer magical wildlife viewing experiences. The birds aren't tame, but to a certain extent they are used to people on the trails. And even in the wide open spaces out there, some of the large birds don't mind flying right over your head. We had this experience with a female Magnificent Frigatebird, American White Pelicans, and a pair of White-tailed Hawks:

Magnificent Frigatebird

American White Pelicans

The hawks were an adult and a juvenile, and I was only able to photograph the juvenile which has a dark plumage with small light bib, very different from the adult:

White-tailed Hawk - 1

The wading birds and shorebirds will also sometimes let you get quite close, and there's no better way to try and learn the difference between the tiny sandpipers than when you have two similar species just a few feet away from you. This Least Sandpiper and Western Sandpiper offered us these close views:

Least Sandpiper

Western Sandpiper

The number of shorebirds and wading birds out on the mud flats was high yesterday, and we saw several dense mixed feeding flocks like this one that included Black-necked Stilts, Snowy Egrets, Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs, Willets, and a few Little Blue Herons:

Mixed Feeding Flock

We often saw tight flocks of fast-flying shorebirds in the distance, flying low over the flats. Once one of these flocks flew straight towards us and split up to just miss us as we stood on the boardwalk. I finally got a photo of one flock that was sharp enough to identify the birds as Wilson's Phalaropes:

Wilson's Phalaropes

We had just started to examine a large flock of sandpipers that had let is get pretty close, when they all flushed. We looked around and saw that a Peregrine Falcon was diving at them! We saw the falcon make a couple quick maneuvers without catching anything. I got this shot of it as it circled around before deciding to move on:

Peregrine Falcon

The biggest surprise of the morning was when we ran into longtime birder Wade Strickland who pointed out a Greater Flamingo northwest of Salt Island out on the mud flats. We couldn't believe it! It turned out this was the bird that escaped from from a zoo in Kansas back in 2005. (It's identified by a band with number 492 on its left leg.) It has been spotted on the Texas coast several times, and for the past few years has been seen with another flamingo from the Yucatan Peninsula. We only saw the one flamingo yesterday, but we hope its companion is nearby.

Greater Flamingo - 1

Greater Flamingo - 2

The flamingo eventually took flight and landed somewhere south of the Birding Center. While in the air it flushed up a flock of Roseate Spoonbills, which are commonly mistaken for flamingos, and I got a few photos of these two pink birds together flight.

Greater Flamingo - 4

Greater Flamingo in flight - 3

Greater Flamingo in flight - 4

Greater Flamingo in flight - 5

Here's our complete eBird checklist.

Here are a few more photos on Flickr.

Attached our my iNaturalist observations. And here are Colleen's.

Posted by mikaelb mikaelb, September 25, 2016 20:16

Observations

Photos / Sounds

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What

Least Sandpiper Calidris minutilla

Observer

mikaelb

Date

September 24, 2016 10:45 AM CDT

Description

Taken during the first Port Aransas Nature Preserve Bioblitz, with Colleen Simpson.

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Red-winged Blackbird Agelaius phoeniceus

Observer

mikaelb

Date

September 24, 2016 11:35 AM CDT

Description

Taken during the first Port Aransas Nature Preserve Bioblitz, with Colleen Simpson.

Photos / Sounds

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What

Western Sandpiper Calidris mauri

Observer

mikaelb

Date

September 24, 2016 10:45 AM CDT

Description

Taken during the first Port Aransas Nature Preserve Bioblitz, with Colleen Simpson.

Photos / Sounds

What

Greater Flamingo Phoenicopterus roseus

Observer

mikaelb

Date

September 24, 2016 12:00 PM CDT

Description

Taken during the first Port Aransas Nature Preserve Bioblitz, with Colleen Simpson.

Wade Strickland pointed out this Greater Flamingo to us. It's the escapee from the Wichita zoo (with leg band 492) that has been living on the Texas coast for years. It was initially just northwest of Salt Island. It made its way north, on the west side of the board walk, until it took flight and landed in tall grass just south of the birding center. I hope it hangs around for awhile!

Photos / Sounds

What

White-tailed Hawk Geranoaetus albicaudatus

Observer

mikaelb

Date

September 24, 2016 10:41 AM CDT

Description

Taken during the first Port Aransas Nature Preserve Bioblitz, with Colleen Simpson.

This juvenile White-tailed Hawk was following an adult which I wasn't able to photo.

Photos / Sounds

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What

Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus

Observer

mikaelb

Date

September 24, 2016 10:32 AM CDT

Description

Taken during the first Port Aransas Nature Preserve Bioblitz, with Colleen Simpson.

Photos / Sounds

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What

Seaside Dragonlet Erythrodiplax berenice

Observer

mikaelb

Date

September 24, 2016 10:23 AM CDT

Description

Taken during the first Port Aransas Nature Preserve Bioblitz, with Colleen Simpson.

Photos / Sounds

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What

Coastal Tiger Beetle Ellipsoptera hamata

Observer

mikaelb

Date

September 24, 2016 10:25 AM CDT

Description

Taken during the first Port Aransas Nature Preserve Bioblitz, with Colleen Simpson.

Photos / Sounds

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What

Reddish Egret Egretta rufescens

Observer

mikaelb

Date

September 24, 2016 10:20 AM CDT

Description

Taken during the first Port Aransas Nature Preserve Bioblitz, with Colleen Simpson.

Photos / Sounds

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What

Wilson's Phalarope Phalaropus tricolor

Observer

mikaelb

Date

September 24, 2016 10:19 AM CDT

Description

Taken during the first Port Aransas Nature Preserve Bioblitz, with Colleen Simpson.

Photos / Sounds

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What

American White Pelican Pelecanus erythrorhynchos

Observer

mikaelb

Date

September 24, 2016 10:15 AM CDT

Description

Taken during the first Port Aransas Nature Preserve Bioblitz, with Colleen Simpson.

Photos / Sounds

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What

Pickleweeds Genus Salicornia

Observer

mikaelb

Date

September 24, 2016 10:03 AM CDT

Description

Taken during the first Port Aransas Nature Preserve Bioblitz, with Colleen Simpson.

The glossier and thicker plant is Glasswort, the paler green and thinner plant is Pigweed.

Photos / Sounds

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What

Cloudless Sulphur Phoebis sennae

Observer

mikaelb

Date

September 24, 2016 09:54 AM CDT

Description

Taken during the first Port Aransas Nature Preserve Bioblitz, with Colleen Simpson.

Photos / Sounds

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What

Lesser Yellowlegs Tringa flavipes

Observer

mikaelb

Date

September 24, 2016 10:02 AM CDT

Description

Taken during the first Port Aransas Nature Preserve Bioblitz, with Colleen Simpson.

Photos / Sounds

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What

Gulf Fritillary Agraulis vanillae

Observer

mikaelb

Date

September 24, 2016 09:46 AM CDT

Description

Taken during the first Port Aransas Nature Preserve Bioblitz, with Colleen Simpson.

Photos / Sounds

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What

Loggerhead Shrike Lanius ludovicianus

Observer

mikaelb

Date

September 24, 2016 09:51 AM CDT

Place

Texas, US (Google, OSM)

Description

Taken during the first Port Aransas Nature Preserve Bioblitz, with Colleen Simpson.

Photos / Sounds

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What

Royal Tern Thalasseus maximus

Observer

mikaelb

Date

September 24, 2016 09:33 AM CDT

Description

Taken during the first Port Aransas Nature Preserve Bioblitz, with Colleen Simpson.

Photos / Sounds

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What

Magnificent Frigatebird Fregata magnificens

Observer

mikaelb

Date

September 24, 2016 09:23 AM CDT

Description

Taken during the first Port Aransas Nature Preserve Bioblitz, with Colleen Simpson.

Photos / Sounds

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What

Queen Danaus gilippus

Observer

mikaelb

Date

September 24, 2016 08:55 AM CDT

Description

Taken during the first Port Aransas Nature Preserve Bioblitz, with Colleen Simpson.

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Black Skimmer Rynchops niger

Observer

mikaelb

Date

September 24, 2016 08:38 AM CDT

Description

Taken during the first Port Aransas Nature Preserve Bioblitz, with Colleen Simpson.

Photos / Sounds

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What

Forster's Tern Sterna forsteri

Observer

mikaelb

Date

September 24, 2016 08:30 AM CDT

Description

Taken during the first Port Aransas Nature Preserve Bioblitz, with Colleen Simpson.

Photos / Sounds

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What

Great Egret Ardea alba

Observer

mikaelb

Date

September 24, 2016 08:36 AM CDT

Description

Taken during the first Port Aransas Nature Preserve Bioblitz, with Colleen Simpson.

Photos / Sounds

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What

Silverleaf Sunflower Helianthus argophyllus

Observer

mikaelb

Date

September 24, 2016 11:35 AM CDT

Description

Taken during the first Port Aransas Nature Preserve Bioblitz, with Colleen Simpson.

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Pickleweeds Genus Salicornia

Observer

mikaelb

Date

September 24, 2016 10:03 AM CDT

Description

Taken during the first Port Aransas Nature Preserve Bioblitz, with Colleen Simpson.

The glossier and thicker plant is Glasswort, the paler green and thinner plant is Pigweed.

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Tievine Ipomoea cordatotriloba

Observer

mikaelb

Date

September 24, 2016 09:54 AM CDT

Description

Taken during the first Port Aransas Nature Preserve Bioblitz, with Colleen Simpson.

This observation is for the purple flowers in this photo.

Photos / Sounds

Square

Observer

mikaelb

Date

September 24, 2016 08:55 AM CDT

Description

Taken during the first Port Aransas Nature Preserve Bioblitz, with Colleen Simpson.

This observation is for the flower that the butterfly is on.

Comments

Thumb

Fantastic stuff! :)

Posted by sambiology over 3 years ago (Flag)

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