Port Aransas Whooping Crane Festival 2019-02-19 thru 2019-02-24

I was fortunate again this year to participate in the Port Aransas Whooping Crane Festival. This journal entry covers my time in Port Aransas from a few days before the festival to the last day of the festival.

On Tuesday 2/19 I birded around Port Aransas in cold, wet, overcast weather. My favorite observation was from the Wetlands Park. This stunning white-phase Reddish Egret came in close and was sporting amazing colors on its bill and lores:

Reddish Egret (White Phase)

On Wednesday 2/20 Ray Dillahunty and I scouted the Lamar area for the Birds of Lamar Peninsula field trips I led on Friday and Saturday. We had an amazing morning that included an early Scissor-tailed Flycatcher and a few close fly-overs by Whooping Cranes:

Whooping Crane - 2 - 1

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher - 1 - 1

When we returned to Port Aransas we checked the Turnbull Birding Center and were treated to this stunning male Vermilion Flycatcher, which was seen there again on Sunday morning (2/24):

Vermilion Flycatcher

On Thursday afternoon I led my first field trip of the festival, a 1.5 hour bird and nature boat tour around ship channel. These short tours are always fun and I was disappointed I only got to lead one this year. Highlights included a first-year White-tailed Hawk, Northern Harriers talon-grappling, Common Loons, and these American Avocets with their bright blue legs:

American Avocets

Friday morning and Saturday afternoon I led field trips to the Lamar area. On both trips we were able to get good looks at Whooping Cranes, despite heavy fog on Friday morning. Very special thanks to Goose Island park ranger Sarah Nordlof for taking both groups into the newly acquired Big Tree Natural Area where Friday's group saw the early Scissor-tailed Flycatcher we saw on Wednesday, and Saturday's group got to see nine Whooping Cranes. Here's part of Friday's group walking through the fog:

First Lamar Field Trip

And here are some of the cranes that Saturday's group got to see there:

Whooping Cranes - 8 - 4

On Saturday morning I got to attend a bird walk led by field guide author and expert birder Richard Crossley. The walk was called "Learning to Look" and Richard presented a very well structured and passionate approach to observing birds in extreme detail, with and without optics. He emphatically explained that if you rely on gestalt bird identification (general impression, size, and shape) and cannot articulate what you are basing your identification on, then you are not really looking at the bird.

On Sunday morning I slept in, and did some casual birding later in the morning at Paradise Pond and the Turnbull Birding Center. I enjoyed seeing and sharing many of the common birds including this amazing Red-winged Blackbird:

Red-winged Blackbird

Here are a few more photos on Flickr:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/mikael_behrens/albums/72157703502237352

Here's my eBird summary, and below are attached observations.
Can't wait for next year!

eBird Checklist Summary for: Feb 19, 2019 at 12:00 AM to Feb 24, 2019 at 11:59 PM

Number of Checklists: 11
Number of Taxa: 92

Checklists included in this summary:
(1): Port Aransas - Beach Access Road 1
Date: Feb 19, 2019 at 9:18 AM
(2): Port Aransas- Charlie's Pasture South Boardwalk (off TX-361)
Date: Feb 19, 2019 at 10:15 AM
(3): Port Aransas Wetland Park (CTC 059)
Date: Feb 19, 2019 at 10:42 AM
(4): Port Aransas Jetty (CTC 058)
Date: Feb 21, 2019 at 8:02 AM
(5): Port Aransas Community Park
Date: Feb 21, 2019 at 9:37 AM
(6): Copano Bay State Fishing Pier (CTC 049)
Date: Feb 22, 2019 at 8:25 AM
(7): 4th Street, Lamar
Date: Feb 22, 2019 at 8:45 AM
(8): Copano Bay State Fishing Pier (CTC 049)
Date: Feb 23, 2019 at 1:57 PM
(9): 4th Street, Lamar
Date: Feb 23, 2019 at 2:06 PM
(10): Port Aransas--Holt Paradise Pond
Date: Feb 24, 2019 at 9:13 AM
(11): Port Aransas- Leonabelle Turnbull Birding Ctr. (CTC 057)
Date: Feb 24, 2019 at 10:14 AM

44 Black-bellied Whistling-Duck -- (7),(9)
9 Blue-winged Teal -- (7),(11)
26 Northern Shoveler -- (3),(7),(9),(11)
1 Mallard -- (3)
6 Mottled Duck -- (3),(5)
30 Northern Pintail -- (2),(9),(11)
104 Green-winged Teal -- (11)
2 Lesser Scaup -- (5)
1 Red-breasted Merganser -- (8)
1 Ruddy Duck -- (11)
10 duck sp. -- (5)
5 Pied-billed Grebe -- (5),(7),(10)
20 Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon) -- (4)
2 Eurasian Collared-Dove -- (10)
2 Mourning Dove -- (7)
1 Common Gallinule (American) -- (11)
137 American Coot -- (5),(7),(9),(11)
12 Sandhill Crane -- (7),(9)
18 Whooping Crane -- (7),(9)
1 American Avocet -- (3)
7 American Oystercatcher -- (1),(4)
6 Black-bellied Plover -- (1),(5)
6 Piping Plover -- (1)
6 Killdeer -- (5),(9),(11)
2 Long-billed Curlew -- (2)
5 Ruddy Turnstone -- (1),(7)
52 Sanderling -- (1)
6 Dunlin -- (5)
17 Short-billed/Long-billed Dowitcher -- (3),(7),(9)
2 Wilson's Snipe -- (11)
1 Greater Yellowlegs -- (9)
45 Willet -- (1),(2),(4),(5),(9),(11)
6 Lesser Yellowlegs -- (5),(7),(11)
7 Bonaparte's Gull -- (4)
191 Laughing Gull -- (1),(3),(4),(5),(7),(8),(9),(10)
93 Ring-billed Gull -- (1),(2),(3),(4),(5),(7),(10),(11)
7 Herring Gull -- (1),(4),(7)
1 Lesser Black-backed Gull -- (1)
3 Gull-billed Tern -- (3),(5)
2 Caspian Tern -- (9)
17 Forster's Tern -- (1),(3),(9)
66 Royal Tern -- (1),(4)
3 Common Loon -- (6),(7),(8)
2 Anhinga -- (7),(9)
18 Neotropic Cormorant -- (3),(9)
56 Double-crested Cormorant -- (1),(4)
128 American White Pelican -- (3),(5),(6),(7),(8),(11)
156 Brown Pelican -- (1),(3),(4),(5),(6),(10)
6 Great Blue Heron -- (4),(5),(7),(9)
13 Great Egret -- (3),(4),(9)
78 Snowy Egret -- (3),(4),(5),(9)
2 Little Blue Heron -- (2),(9)
4 Tricolored Heron -- (9),(11)
21 Reddish Egret -- (3),(4),(5),(11)
41 White Ibis -- (2),(3),(5),(9),(11)
3 Glossy/White-faced Ibis -- (3),(9)
101 Roseate Spoonbill -- (3),(4),(5),(9),(11)
10 Black Vulture -- (7),(9)
8 Turkey Vulture -- (5),(7),(9),(11)
1 Osprey -- (5)
1 Northern Harrier -- (5)
1 Red-tailed Hawk -- (5)
1 owl sp. -- (5)
1 Crested Caracara -- (2)
2 American Kestrel -- (5),(7)
1 Peregrine Falcon -- (11)
2 Eastern Phoebe -- (7),(11)
1 Vermilion Flycatcher -- (11)
2 Scissor-tailed Flycatcher -- (7),(9)
2 Loggerhead Shrike -- (5),(11)
19 Purple Martin -- (5),(6),(7)
5 Tree Swallow -- (9)
1 Cliff Swallow -- (8)
7 Sedge Wren -- (2),(5)
1 Carolina Wren -- (7)
1 Ruby-crowned Kinglet -- (10)
3 Gray Catbird -- (5),(7)
9 Northern Mockingbird -- (5),(7),(11)
5 European Starling -- (10),(11)
1 American Pipit -- (11)
1 American Goldfinch -- (5)
1 Vesper Sparrow -- (7)
5 Savannah Sparrow -- (7)
20 Western/Eastern Meadowlark -- (7)
62 Red-winged Blackbird -- (7),(10),(11)
6 Brown-headed Cowbird -- (7),(10)
276 Great-tailed Grackle -- (1),(2),(3),(4),(5),(7),(9),(10),(11)
1 Orange-crowned Warbler -- (10)
1 Common Yellowthroat -- (5)
26 Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle) -- (5),(7),(10),(11)
4 Northern Cardinal -- (7)
3 House Sparrow -- (6)

Posted by mikaelb mikaelb, February 24, 2019 23:08

Observations

Photos / Sounds

What

Piping Plover Charadrius melodus

Observer

mikaelb

Date

February 19, 2019 09:41 AM CST

Place

Texas, US (Google, OSM)

Description

Taken between beach Access Road 1 and about 2 miles south of there. Unfortunately I was unable to geotag these photos so location is not any more accurate than that.

Band code: 9G2

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Piping Plover Charadrius melodus

Observer

mikaelb

Date

February 19, 2019 09:46 AM CST

Place

Texas, US (Google, OSM)

Description

Taken between beach Access Road 1 and about 2 miles south of there. Unfortunately I was unable to geotag these photos so location is not any more accurate than that.

Band Code: 8N2

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus

Observer

mikaelb

Date

February 19, 2019 09:50 AM CST

Place

Texas, USA (Google, OSM)

Description

Taken between beach Access Road 1 and about 2 miles south of there. Unfortunately I was unable to geotag these photos so location is not any more accurate than that.

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

American White Pelican Pelecanus erythrorhynchos

Observer

mikaelb

Date

February 19, 2019 10:55 AM CST

Description

Taken from the Port Aransas Wetlands Park gazebo.

Three American Pelicans are on the left, a Snowy Egret and Neotropical Cormorant are on the right.

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Reddish Egret Egretta rufescens

Observer

mikaelb

Date

February 19, 2019 10:54 AM CST

Place

Texas, US (Google, OSM)

Description

Taken from the Port Aransas Wetlands Park gazebo.

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Roseate Spoonbill Platalea ajaja

Observer

mikaelb

Date

February 19, 2019 10:54 AM CST

Description

Taken from the Port Aransas Wetlands Park gazebo.

This is one of the rattiest spoonbills I've seen! See the missing feathers on its neck. I wonder if it had a close call with a predator.

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher Polioptila caerulea

Observer

mikaelb

Date

February 20, 2019 11:13 AM CST

Description

Taken while scouting for the 2019 Whooping Crane Festival field trip "Birds of Lamar Peninsula with Mikael Behrens" at the Linda S. Castro pond in Rockport.

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Common Green Darner Anax junius

Observer

mikaelb

Date

February 20, 2019 11:17 AM CST

Description

Taken while scouting for the 2019 Whooping Crane Festival field trip "Birds of Lamar Peninsula with Mikael Behrens" at the Linda S. Castro pond in Rockport.

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Ladder-backed Woodpecker Dryobates scalaris

Observer

mikaelb

Date

February 20, 2019 10:10 AM CST

Description

Taken while scouting for the 2019 Whooping Crane Festival field trip "Birds of Lamar Peninsula with Mikael Behrens" near the Big Tree monument in Lamar.

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Sandhill Crane Antigone canadensis

Observer

mikaelb

Date

February 20, 2019 09:28 AM CST

Description

Taken while scouting for the 2019 Whooping Crane Festival field trip "Birds of Lamar Peninsula with Mikael Behrens" near the Big Tree monument in Lamar.

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher Tyrannus forficatus

Observer

mikaelb

Date

February 20, 2019 09:52 AM CST

Description

Taken while scouting for the 2019 Whooping Crane Festival field trip "Birds of Lamar Peninsula with Mikael Behrens" near the Big Tree monument in Lamar.

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Vermilion Flycatcher Pyrocephalus rubinus

Observer

mikaelb

Date

February 20, 2019 12:16 PM CST

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Whooping Crane Grus americana

Observer

mikaelb

Date

February 20, 2019 09:21 AM CST

Place

Texas, US (Google, OSM)

Description

Taken while scouting for the 2019 Whooping Crane Festival field trip "Birds of Lamar Peninsula with Mikael Behrens" near the Big Tree monument in Lamar.

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Whooping Crane Grus americana

Observer

mikaelb

Date

February 20, 2019 09:46 AM CST

Place

Texas, US (Google, OSM)

Description

Taken while scouting for the 2019 Whooping Crane Festival field trip "Birds of Lamar Peninsula with Mikael Behrens" near the Big Tree monument in Lamar.

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Red-tailed Hawk Buteo jamaicensis

Observer

mikaelb

Date

February 20, 2019 09:48 AM CST

Description

Taken while scouting for the 2019 Whooping Crane Festival field trip "Birds of Lamar Peninsula with Mikael Behrens" near the Big Tree monument in Lamar.

Photos / Sounds

What

Whooping Crane Grus americana

Observer

mikaelb

Date

February 20, 2019 09:42 AM CST

Place

Texas, US (Google, OSM)

Description

Taken while scouting for the 2019 Whooping Crane Festival field trip "Birds of Lamar Peninsula with Mikael Behrens" near the Big Tree monument in Lamar.

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Red-breasted Merganser Mergus serrator

Observer

mikaelb

Date

February 21, 2019 02:52 PM CST

Description

Taken on the 2019 Whooping Crane Festival's first Birding/Nature Boat Tour.

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Common Loon Gavia immer

Observer

mikaelb

Date

February 21, 2019 02:44 PM CST

Description

Taken on the 2019 Whooping Crane Festival's first Birding/Nature Boat Tour.

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

White-tailed Hawk Geranoaetus albicaudatus

Observer

mikaelb

Date

February 21, 2019 02:11 PM CST

Description

Taken on the 2019 Whooping Crane Festival's first Birding/Nature Boat Tour.

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

American Kestrel Falco sparverius

Observer

mikaelb

Date

February 21, 2019 11:23 AM CST

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Bonaparte's Gull Chroicocephalus philadelphia

Observer

mikaelb

Date

February 21, 2019 08:29 AM CST

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Gull-billed Tern Gelochelidon nilotica

Observer

mikaelb

Date

February 21, 2019 10:40 AM CST

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

American Avocet Recurvirostra americana

Observer

mikaelb

Date

February 21, 2019 02:25 PM CST

Description

Taken on the 2019 Whooping Crane Festival's first Birding/Nature Boat Tour.

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Whooping Crane Grus americana

Observer

mikaelb

Date

February 22, 2019 09:16 AM CST

Place

Texas, US (Google, OSM)

Description

Taken on the 2019 Whooping Crane Festival's first Birds of Lamar bus tour. Despite the fog we saw 4 Whooping Cranes, Sandhill Cranes, many Black-bellied Whistling Ducks, an Anhinga, and an early Scissor-tailed Flycatcher.

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Common Gallinule Gallinula galeata

Observer

mikaelb

Date

February 24, 2019 10:46 AM CST

Description

Taken during the 2019 Whooping Crane Festival at the Turnbull Birding Center. This leucisting Common Gallinule has been present here for over a year.

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Red-winged Blackbird Agelaius phoeniceus

Observer

mikaelb

Date

February 24, 2019 09:50 AM CST

Description

Taken during the 2019 Whooping Crane Festival at Paradise Pond.

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Myrtle Warbler Setophaga coronata ssp. coronata

Observer

mikaelb

Date

February 24, 2019 09:45 AM CST

Description

Taken during the 2019 Whooping Crane Festival at Paradise Pond.

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Brown-headed Cowbird Molothrus ater

Observer

mikaelb

Date

February 24, 2019 09:25 AM CST

Description

Taken during the 2019 Whooping Crane Festival at Paradise Pond.

Photos / Sounds

What

Whooping Crane Grus americana

Observer

mikaelb

Date

February 23, 2019 03:20 PM CST

Place

Texas, US (Google, OSM)

Description

Taken on the 2019 Whooping Crane Festival's second Birds of Lamar bus tour. The weather was much nicer and there was no fog. We saw 14 Whooping Cranes.

Many thanks to the Goose Island park ranger, Sarah Nordlof, who led us into the newly acquired Big Tree Natural Area where we got to watch 9 Whooping Cranes!

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Whooping Crane Grus americana

Observer

mikaelb

Date

February 23, 2019 03:16 PM CST

Place

Texas, US (Google, OSM)

Description

Taken on the 2019 Whooping Crane Festival's second Birds of Lamar bus tour. The weather was much nicer and there was no fog. We saw 14 Whooping Cranes.

Many thanks to the Goose Island park ranger, Sarah Nordlof, who led us into the newly acquired Big Tree Natural Area where we got to watch 9 Whooping Cranes!

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher Tyrannus forficatus

Observer

mikaelb

Date

February 23, 2019 02:41 PM CST

Description

Taken on the 2019 Whooping Crane Festival's second Birds of Lamar bus tour. The weather was much nicer and there was no fog. We saw 14 Whooping Cranes.

Near the Big Tree monument we found this early Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, probably the same individual I photographed on Feb 20, 2019.

Photos / Sounds

Square

Observer

mikaelb

Date

February 23, 2019 02:37 PM CST

Description

Taken on the 2019 Whooping Crane Festival's second Birds of Lamar bus tour. The weather was much nicer and there was no fog. We saw 14 Whooping Cranes.

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Whooping Crane Grus americana

Observer

mikaelb

Date

February 23, 2019 02:31 PM CST

Place

Texas, US (Google, OSM)

Description

Taken on the 2019 Whooping Crane Festival's second Birds of Lamar bus tour. The weather was much nicer and there was no fog. We saw 14 Whooping Cranes.

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Whooping Crane Grus americana

Observer

mikaelb

Date

February 23, 2019 02:11 PM CST

Place

Texas, US (Google, OSM)

Description

Taken on the 2019 Whooping Crane Festival's second Birds of Lamar bus tour. The weather was much nicer and there was no fog. We saw 14 Whooping Cranes. This was the only family group we found.

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

American Alligator Alligator mississippiensis

Observer

mikaelb

Date

February 23, 2019 02:26 PM CST

Description

Taken on the 2019 Whooping Crane Festival's second Birds of Lamar bus tour. The weather was much nicer and there was no fog. We saw 14 Whooping Cranes.

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