Neotropic Cormorant & Laughing Gull


Southeast Texas Tour
Nov 8-12, 2003
- narrated by Henry Detwiler

Suzanne, Adriana, Gaby, and I spent several days visiting forests, beaches, and parks on a short vacation in southeast Texas. 
species total

Click on thumbnail pictures for full-sized shots.

Suzanne, Adriana, & Gaby  

Gulf Coast Fritillary

We started on a cool, misty Saturday afternoon and battled the traffic north of Houston. W.G. Jones State Forest was pretty quiet, and we added only a few species to Suzanne's list: Eastern Phoebe, Carolina Chickadee, Tufted Titmouse, Pine Warbler, and Northern Cardinal. At Sam Houston National Forest we encountered a few more birds, the best being a flying Red-cockaded Woodpecker, giving it's raspy peeck call--it was the only one we would find. 

On Sunday morning we drove back to Sam Houston N.F. and spotted a Red-bellied Woodpecker and a singing Cardinal. At W.G. Jones forest we found House Wrens, Cardinals, and a mixed flock of Brown-headed Nuthatches, chickadees, and titmice. A Yellow-bellied Sapsucker and a calling Pileated Woodpecker were nice finds.

Around 10:30am we drove to Herman Park in Houston, where we rode a paddle boat & a mini-train, and visited the Children's Museum. Birds in the park included Redhead, Black-bellied Whistling Duck,  Laughing Gull, and Blue Jay. Later in the afternoon we headed south towards Galveston, stopping along the way at Kemah to get our first combined lifer of the trip, a Monk Parakeet. These imported parakeets were quite raucous--we saw them close to their large communal stick nests that they constructed in the high-tension transmission towers. 

Long-billed Curlews


Piping Plover on the Gulf Coast
We did a little birding on the east side of Galveston Island as the sun was setting, adding Piping Plover & other shorebirds while the girls played in the surf.

On Monday morning we explored east Galveston Island, and added many fine waders: Tri-colored, Yellow-crowned, & Little Blue Herons; Reddish Egret; Roseate Spoonbill; and both White & White-faced Ibis.

Little Blue Heron 

Tricolored Heron

Royal Terns

In the early afternoon we took the ferry to Bolivar peninsula (a Houston Audubon Society shorebird sanctuary), where we picnicked & played in the water, and chased birds! The tide was fairly low, so we added Black Skimmers and more shorebirds, and another first for both of us: Nelson's Sharp-tailed Sparrow. Suzanne and I saw quite a few of these handsome sparrows as they flew about and perched in the marsh grasses.

Black Skimmers, Brown Pelicans, Laughing Gulls, Royal Terns, & Snowy Egret!

American alligators at Anahuac NWR


Later, we drove on to that famous spring birding mecca, High Island, where we walked around in total peace & quiet (aside from the buzzing of mosquitoes). We quickly tired of the silence (OK, one Blue Jay called from the distance), and drove on to Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge as the sun was going down. Here the birds were vocal & plentiful! We spotted an American Bittern in a ditch, and heard King Rails in a couple of spots. We also found our first alligator for the trip. Our motel that night was in Winnie, twenty miles to the north.  

Tuesday morning we went back to Anahuac, and weren't disappointed. We picked up Sedge Wren and Swamp Sparrow, and my final lifer of the trip, a Seaside Sparrow--we both saw a pair of them. No luck with the Yellow Rails, but we again heard King & Virginia Rails. And we saw seven more alligators, including one magnificent specimen that walked over the levee road in front of our car, just about spanning it!

Sedge Wren

Boat-tailed Grackle & cat(fish)

Royal Terns

 During the afternoon we drove over to Taylor Bayou and scored on an Anhinga for Suzanne, and then southeast to Sabine Woods & Sea Rim State Park. Here we got some excellent looks at White-tailed Kites and Boat-tailed Grackles, along with more fine looks at shorebirds, waders, terns and our first Herring Gulls.  The girls enjoyed playing in the surf for one last time.

American Oystercatchers

A large flock of Laughing Gulls with a few Royal Terns

On Wednesday morning we visited Duessen Park on the way to the airport, and saw a nice selection of woodland birds including a beautiful Red-shouldered Hawk, Downy & Red-bellied Woodpeckers, Eastern Bluebirds, many Carolina Chickadees, and a Pine Warbler.

Roseate Spoonbills

Southeast Texas, Nov 8-12, 2003
# Species
1 Pied-billed Grebe
2 American White Pelican
3 Brown Pelican
4 Anhinga
5 Neotropic Cormorant
6 Double-crested Cormorant
7 American Bittern
8 Great Blue Heron
9 Great Egret
10 Snowy Egret
11 Little Blue Heron
12 Tricolored Heron
13 Reddish Egret
14 Cattle Egret
15 Green Heron
16 Black-crowned Night Heron
17 Yellow-crowned Night Heron
18 Roseate Spoonbill
19 White Ibis
20 White-faced Ibis
21 Sandhill Crane
22 Mottled Duck
23 Black-bellied Whistling Duck
24 Greater White-fronted Goose
25 Snow Goose
26 Blue-winged Teal
27 Mallard
28 Northern Shoveler
29 Northern Pintail
30 Green-winged Teal
31 Redhead
32 Ring-necked Duck
33 Osprey
34 White-tailed Kite
35 Bald Eagle
36 Northern Harrier
37 Cooper's Hawk
38 Red-shouldered Hawk
39 Red-tailed Hawk
40 American Kestrel
41 Merlin
42 King Rail
43 Virginia Rail
44 Common Moorhen
45 American Coot
46 Black-bellied Plover
47 Snowy Plover
48 Piping Plover
49 Semipalmated Plover
50 Killdeer
51 American Oystercatcher
52 Black-necked Stilt
53 American Avocet
54 Greater Yellowlegs
55 Willet
56 Spotted Sandpiper
57 Long-billed Curlew
58 Ruddy Turnstone
59 Sanderling

# Species
60 Western Sandpiper
61 Least Sandpiper
62 Dunlin
63 Long-billed Dowitcher
64 Wilson's Snipe
65 Black Vulture
66 Turkey Vulture
67 Laughing Gull
68 Ring-billed Gull
69 Herring Gull
70 Caspian Tern
71 Royal Tern
72 Common Tern
73 Forster's Tern
74 Black Skimmer
75 Rock Pigeon
76 White-winged Dove
77 Mourning Dove
78 Common Ground-Dove
79 Monk Parakeet
80 Common Poorwill
81 Belted Kingfisher
82 Red-cockaded Woodpecker
83 Red-bellied Woodpecker
84 Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
85 Downy Woodpecker
86 Pileated Woodpecker
87 Eastern Phoebe
88 Scissor-tailed Flycatcher
89 Loggerhead Shrike
90 Blue Jay
91 American Crow
92 Horned Lark
93 Tree Swallow
94 Carolina Chickadee
95 Tufted Titmouse
96 Brown-headed Nuthatch
97 House Wren
98 Sedge Wren
99 Ruby-crowned Kinglet
100 Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
101 Eastern Bluebird
102 American Robin
103 Northern Mockingbird
104 European Starling
105 Orange-crowned Warbler
106 Pine Warbler
107 Common Yellowthroat
108 Nelson's Sharp-tailed Sparrow
109 Seaside Sparrow
110 Savannah Sparrow
111 Song Sparrow
112 Swamp Sparrow
113 Cardinal
114 Red-winged Blackbird
115 Eastern Meadowlark
116 Common Grackle
117 Great-tailed Grackle
118 Boat-tailed Grackle
119 House Sparrow

Photos Henry D. Detwiler