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Stop 2 - Southern Texas : BIG BEND NP, SANTA-ANA NWR, LAGUNA ATASCOSA NWR, GOOSE ISLAND SP,  BOLIVAR FLATS, HIGH ISLAND, SABINE WOODS

The following page is devoted to my roadtrip photos of birds from various birding hotspots in southern Texas. Clearly, I did not photograph every kind of bird that can be found in southern Texas, but I have provided a selection of some of my favorite photos of the birds I did happen to see as I passed through.

Birds I saw in Southern Texas

April 20-30, 2008

I left the colorful and bountiful birds of SE Arizona and headed towards another great birding area, Big Bend National Park in Texas. This area was not only quite scenic, but also had birds everywhere. I birded for an evening and morning at the Rio Grande Village area on the east end of the park. There were so many birds I had a hard time deciding which one to point my camera at! Then I dove 30 miles over to Chinos Basin, where the increased elevation led to some different birds. I hiked the 9.5 mile loop up to Boot Canyon in hopes of finding the Coloma Warbler (the only place it is found in the US), but unfortunately didn't see one (but got plenty of photos of Blue-gray gnatcatchers and Hutton's vireo in a hopeful attempt that these small birds were actually the Coloma warbler). I would have liked to stay at least one more day in the Park, but I wanted to avoid the weekend crowds at my next Texan destination: Santa-Ana and Laguna-Atascosa National Wildlife Refuges in the Lower Rio Grande Valley.

(I went to three major birding areas in Texas: (1) Big Bend National Park, (2) the Rio Grande Valley (where I went to Santa-Ana NWR and Laguna Atascosa NWR), and (3) Upper Texas Gulf Coast (where I went to Goose Island State Park, High Island and Bolivar Flats, and Sabine Woods). These three areas are so far apart and have their own distinct birds, so I grouped the birds separately by location.)

Big Bend National Park

BLACKBIRD:
    Brewer's
CARDINAL:
    Northern
CHAT:
    Yellow-breasted
COWBIRD:
    Bronzed
DOVE:
    Mourning
FLYCATCHER:
    Ash-Throated
    Vermilion
FINCH:
    House
GNATCATCHER:
    Blue-gray
GRACKLE:
    Great-tailed

GREBE:
    Pied-billed
HUMMINGBIRD:
    Broad-tailed
    Unidentified
JAY:
    Mexican
MOCKINGBIRD:
    Northern
ORIOLE:
    Bullock's
    Hooded
    Orchard
    Scott's
OSPREY
PHOEBE:
    Black
    Eastern

PYRRHULOXIA
ROADRUNNER:
    Greater
SPARROW:
    Chipping
    Rufous-crowned
SWALLOW:
    Northern Rough-winged
TANAGER:
    Summer
THRUSH:
    Hermit
TOWHEE:
    Canyon
    Spotted
TYRANNULET:
    Northern Beardless

VIREO:
    Hutton's
VULTURE:
    Turkey
WARBLER:
    Townsend's
    Wilson's
    Worm-eating
WOODPECKER:
    Acorn
    Gold-fronted
    Ladder-backed
    Red-bellied
WREN:
    Cactus
    Canyon

(My favorite photos are highlighted.)


Brewer's Blackbird (male), Chisos Basin.

Brewer's Blackbird (female), Chisos Basin.

Northern Cardinal, Rio Grande Village area.

Yellow-breasted Chat, Rio Grande Village area.

Bronzed Cowbird (?), Chisos Basin.

Mourning Dove, Rio Grande Village area.

Ash-throated Flycatcher, Rio Grande Village area.

Vermilion Flycatcher (male), Rio Grande Village area.

Vermilion Flycatcher (female), Rio Grande Village area.

House Finch (male), Rio Grande Village area.

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Rio Grande Village area.

Great-tailed Grackle, Rio Grande Village area.

Pied-billed Grebe, Rio Grande Village area.

Broad-Tailed Hummingbird, Chisos Basin.

Unidentified Hummingbird, Chisos Basin.

Mexican Jay, Chisos Basin.

Northern Mockingbird, Rio Grande Village area.

Bullock's Oriole, Rio Grande Village area.

Hooded Oriole, Rio Grande Village area.

Orchard Oriole (female), Rio Grande Village area.

Scott's Oriole, Rio Grande Village area.

Osprey, Rio Grande Village area.

Black Phoebe, Rio Grande Village area.

Eastern Phoebe (?), Chisos Basin.

Pyrrhuloxia, Chisos Basin.

Greater Roadrunner, Rio Grande Village area.

Chipping Sparrow, Chisos Basin.

Rufous-crowned Sparrow (?), Chisos Basin.

Northern Rough-Winged Swallow, Rio Grande Village area.

Summer Tanager (male), Rio Grande Village area.

Summer Tanager (female), Rio Grande Village area.

Hermit Thrush, Rio Grande Village area.

Canyon Towhee, Chisos Basin.

Spotted Towhee, Chisos Basin.

Northern Beardless Tyrannulet, Rio Grande Village area.

Hutton's Vireo, Chisos Basin.

Turkey Vulture, Rio Grande Village area.

Townsend's Warbler, Chisos Basin.

Wilson's Warbler, Rio Grande Village area.

Worm-eating Warbler, Rio Grande Village area.

Acorn Woodpecker, Chisos Basin.

Golden-fronted Woodpecker, Rio Grande Village area.

Ladder-backed Woodpecker, Rio Grande Village area.

Red-bellied Woodpecker, Rio Grande Village area.

Cactus Wren, Chisos Basin.

Canyon Wren, Chisos Basin.

After Big Bend, my next stop in Texas was a few days of chasing birds in the lower Rio Grande Valley. I went to two well-known National Wildlife Refuges - the Santa-Ana NWR and the Laguna Atascosa NWR. Together these refuges provided a wide selection of birds - Santa Ana is located along the banks of the lower Rio Grande and Laguna Atascosa is located about 40 miles to the east on the lower Gulf coast. Again, I racked up quite a list of different species and got some photos of a few southern Texan / Mexican specialties such as the Olive Sparrow, Green Jay, Groove-billed Ani, Crested Caracara, Great Kiskadee, Plain Chachalaca, Black-crested Tufted Titmouse, Altamira Oriole, White-tipped Dove, and Clay-colored Robin. Wherever I drove, I saw Scissor Tailed Flycatchers decorating the telephone wires, but whenever I pulled over to get a photograph, the bird would fly away. At this rate, I wondered how many days it would take me to drive to my next birding stop in the famed spring migration birding hot spot of High Island, TX.

Rio Grande Valley (Santa Ana NWR and Laguna Atascosa NWR)

ANHINGA
ANI:
    Groove-billed
BLACKBIRD:
    Red-winged
BUNTING:
    Indigo
CARACARA:
    Crested
CARDINAL:
    Northern
CHACHALACA:
    Plain
COOT:
    American
CORMORANT:
    Double-crested
COWBIRD:
    Bronzed
CURLEW:
    Long-billed
DOVE:
    Inca
    Mourning
    White-tipped
    White-winged

DOWITCHER:
    Long-billed
DUCK:
    Black-bellied Whistling
DUNLIN
EGRET:
    Cattle
    Great
    Snowy
FLYCATCHER:
    Ash-throated
    Scissor-tailed
GRACKLE:
    Great-tailed
GREBE:
    Least
GULL:
    Laughing
HAWK:
    Harris's
HERON:
    Little Blue
    Tricolored
HUMMINGBIRD:
    Ruby-throated

IBIS:
    White
    White-faced
JAY:
    Green
KINGBIRD:
    Couch's
KISKADEE:
    Great
MEADOWLARK:
    Eastern
MOCKINGBIRD:
    Northern
MOORHEN:
    Common
ORIOLE:
    Altamira
    Hooded
PLOVER:
    Black-bellied
    Wilson's
ROBIN:
    Clay-colored
SANDPIPER:
    Purple
SHOVELER:
    Northern

SPARROW:
    Lark
    Olive
STILT:
    Black-necked
SWALLOW:
    Barn
TERN:
    Caspian
    Royal
    Sandwich
THRASHER:
    Curve-billed
    Long-billed
TITMOUSE:
    Black-crested tufted
WARBLER:
    Black-and-white
    Magnolia
    Yellow
WILLLET
WOODPECKER:
    Golden-fronted
WREN:
    Carolina

(My favorite photos are highlighted.)


Anhinga, Santa Ana NWR.

Groove-billed Ani, Santa Ana NWR.

Red-winged Blackbird, Santa Ana NWR.

Indigo Bunting, Santa Ana NWR.

Crested Caracara, Laguna Atascosa NWR.

Northern Cardinal (male), Laguna Atascosa NWR.

Plain Chachalaca, Laguna Atascosa NWR.

American Coots, Laguna Atascosa NWR.

Double-crested Cormorant, Santa Ana NWR.

Bronzed Cowbird (?), Santa Ana NWR.

Long-billed Curlew, Laguna Atascosa NWR.

Inca Dove, Santa Ana NWR.

Mourning Dove, Laguna Atascosa NWR.

White-tipped Dove, Laguna Atascosa NWR.

White-winged Dove, Santa Ana NWR.

Long-billed Dowitcher, Santa Ana NWR.

Black-bellied Whistling Duck, Santa Ana NWR.

Dunlin (?), Laguna Atascosa NWR.

Cattle Egret (breeding plumage) and Royal and Sandwich Terns, Laguna Atascosa NWR.

Great Egret, Santa Ana NWR.

Snowy Egret, Santa Ana NWR.

Ash-throated Flycatcher, Santa Ana NWR.

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, Santa Ana NWR.

Great Tailed Grackle (male), Laguna Atascosa NWR.

Great Tailed Grackle (female), Laguna Atascosa NWR.

Least Grebe, Santa Ana NWR.

Laughing Gull (breeding plumage), Laguna Atascosa NWR.

Harris's Hawk, Laguna Atascosa NWR.

Little Blue Heron, Santa Ana NWR.

Tricolored Heron, Santa Ana NWR.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird (?), Santa Ana NWR.

White Ibis (adult and juvenile), Santa Ana NWR.

White-faced Ibis, Santa Ana NWR.

Green Jay, Santa Ana NWR.

Couch's Kingbird, Santa Ana NWR.

Great Kiskadee, Santa Ana NWR.

Eastern Meadowlark, Laguna Atascosa NWR.

Northern Mockingbird, Santa Ana NWR.

Common Moorhen, Santa Ana NWR.

Altamira Oriole, Laguna Atascosa NWR.

Hooded Oriole, Santa Ana NWR.

Hooded Oriole (female) ?, Santa Ana NWR.

Black-bellied Plover, Laguna Atascosa NWR.

Wilson's Plover, Laguna Atascosa NWR.

Clay-colored Robin, Santa Ana NWR.

Purple Sandpiper (?), Laguna Atascosa NWR.

Northern Shoveler (male), Santa Ana NWR.

Lark Sparrow, Santa Ana NWR.

Olive Sparrow, Laguna Atascosa NWR.

Black-necked Stilt, Santa Ana NWR.

Barn Swallows, Santa Ana NWR.

A lone Caspian Tern, Laguna Atascosa NWR.

Royal Terns, Laguna Atascosa NWR.

Sandwich Terns (the ones with black bills with light-colored tips), Laguna Atascosa NWR.

Curve-billed Thrasher, Laguna Atascosa NWR.

Long-billed Thrasher, Santa Ana NWR.

Black-crested Tufted Titmouse, Laguna Atascosa NWR.

Black-and-white Warbler, Laguna Atascosa NWR.

Magnolia Warbler, Laguna Atascosa NWR.

Yellow Warbler, Laguna Atascosa NWR.

Willet, Laguna Atascosa NWR.

Golden-fronted Woodpecker, Santa Ana NWR.

Carolina Wren, Laguna Atascosa NWR.

From the Rio Grande Valley, I began to make my way up the Gulf Coast of Texas. I spent a night in the campground at Goose Island State Park, and found several birds there. Next, I made my way up the coast to the famed High Island and the nearby Bolivar Flats. I spent a few days here, photographing the swarms of shorebirds at Bolivar Flats and colorful variety of woodland and marsh birds in the High Island area (Boy Scout Woods and Smith Oaks Wildlife Sanctuary). There were about as many bird fanatics as birds, and I enjoyed talking to the many interesting people I met from all over the country. I heard of a Painted Bunting being sighted at Sabine Woods (1 hr further up the coast), so I headed over here to find it. Unfortunately, although this stunning bird is relatively common in this part of the country, I did not see one, and. I hoped I would see on at my next stop, which would be Dauphin Island, Alabama, another spring migration birding hotspot.

Upper Texas Coast (Goose Island, High Island, Bolivar Flats, and Sabine Woods)

ANHINGA
AVOCET:
    American
BLACKBIRD:
    Red-winged
BUNTING:
    Indigo
    Painted
CARDINAL:
    Northern
CATBIRD:
    Gray
CORMORANT:
    Neotropic
CUCKOO:
    Yellow-billed
DICKCISSEL
DOVE:
    Eurasian Collared
    Inca
DOWITCHER:
    Short-billed
DUNLIN
EGRET:
    Great
    Reddish (dark morph)
    Reddish (white morph)
    Snowy
FLYCATCHER:
    Acadian
    Fork-tailed
    Scissor-tailed
    Some kind
GALLINULE:
    Purple
GRACKLE:
    Common
    Great-tailed

GROSBEAK:
    Blue
    Rose-breasted
GULL:
    Laughing
HERON:
    Green
    Little Blue
    Tricolored
HUMMINGBIRD:
    Ruby-throated
IBIS:
    White
JAY:
    Blue
KILLDEER
KINGBIRD:
    Eastern
KNOT:
    Red
MARTIN:
    Purple
MOCKINGBIRD:
    Northern
ORIOLE:
    Baltimore
    Orchard
OVENBIRD
PARULA:
    Northern
PELICAN:
    Brown
PLOVER:
    Black-bellied
    Piping
    Snowy
REDSTART:
    American

SANDERLING
SANDPIPER:
    Semipalmated
SHRIKE:
    Loggerhead
SKIMMER:
    Black
SPARROW:
    Savannah?
SPOONBILL:
    Roseate
STARLING:
    European
STILT:
    Black-necked
SWALLOW:
    Barn
    Cliff
    Tree
TANAGER:
    Scarlet
    Summer
TEAL:
    Blue-winged
TERN:
    Common
    Forster's
    Royal
THRASHER:
    Brown
THRUSH:
    Gray-cheeked
    Hermit
    Wood
TITMOUSE:
    Black-crested Tufted

TURNSTONE:
    Ruddy
VEERY
VIREO:
    Philadelphia
    Red-eyed
    White-eyed
    Yellow-throated
WARBLER:
    Bay-breasted
    Black-and-white
    Black-throated Green
    Blackburnian
    Blue-winged
    Cerulean
    Chestnut-sided
    Golden-winged
    Kentucky
    Magnolia
    Prothonotary
    Tennessee
    Yellow
WATERTHRUSH:
    Northern or Louisiana
WILLET
WOOD-PEWEE:
    Eastern
WOODPECKER:
    Red-bellied
YELLOWLEGS:
    Greater
YELLOWTHROAT:
    Common

(My favorite photos are highlighted.)


Anhinga, High Island area.

American Avocets in flight, breeding plumage, Bolivar Flats.

Red-winged Blackbird, Sabine Woods area.

Indigo Bunting, Sabine Woods area.

Painted Bunting (the only sighting I got of one of these gorgeous birds), High Island area.

Northern Cardinal (female), Goose Island State Park.

Gray Catbird, Goose Island State Park.

Neotropic Cormorant, Bolivar Flats.

Yellow-billed Cuckoo, High Island area.

Dickcissel, Sabine Woods area.

Eurasian Collared Dove, High Island area.

Inca Dove, Goose Island State Park.

A Pair of Short-billed Dowitchers, Bolivar Flats.

Swarms of Dunlin, Bolivar Flats.

Great Egret and babies, High Island area.

Reddish Egret (dark morph) in wacky dance, Bolivar Flats.

Reddish Egret (white morph) and American Avocet, Bolivar Flats.

Snowy Egret, Bolivar Flats.

Acadian Flycatcher (?, note the white breast), High Island area.

Fork-tailed Flycatcher, Sabine Woods area.

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, on telephone wire at High Island area.

….and there one goes! (Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, Goose Island State Park).

Some sort of Flycatcher or Wood-Pewee, High Island area.

Purple Gallinule, High Island area.

Common Grackle, High Island area.

Great-tailed Grackle, Sabine Woods area.

Blue Grosbeak (female) ?, Sabine Woods area.

Rose-breasted Grosbeak (male), High Island area.

Rose-breasted Grosbeak (female), High Island area.

Rose-breasted Grosbeak chick (?), High Island area.

Comical Pair of Laughing Gulls, Bolivar Flats.

Green Heron, Sabine Woods area.

Little Blue Heron, High Island area.

Tricolored Heron, High Island area.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Sabine Woods area.

White Ibis, Sabine Woods area.

Blue Jay, Sabine Woods area.

Killdeer, Sabine Woods area.

Eastern Kingbird, High Island area.

Red Knot, Bolivar Flats.

Purple Martin, High Island area.

Northern Mockingbird, High Island area.

Baltimore Oriole, High Island area.

Orchard Oriole, Sabine Woods area.

Ovenbird, Sabine Woods area.

Northern Parula, High Island area.

Brown Pelican, Bolivar Flats.

Black-bellied Plover, Bolivar Flats.

Piping Plover, Bolivar Flats.

Snowy Plover, Bolivar Flats.

American Redstart (male), Sabine Woods area.

American Redstart (female), High Island area.

Sanderling (?), Bolivar Flats.

Semipalmated Sandpiper (?), Bolivar Flats.

Loggerhead Shrike, High Island area.

Black Skimmer (and Royal Tern and Laughing Gull), Bolivar Flats.

Savannah Sparrow (?), Sabine Woods area.

Roseate Spoonbill, High Island area.

European Starling, High Island area.

Black-necked Stilt, Sabine Woods area.

Barn Swallow, High Island area.

Cliff Swallow, Sabine Woods area.

Tree Swallow coming in for a landing, Sabine Woods area.

Scarlet Tanager (male), High Island area.

Scarlet Tanager (female), Sabine Woods area.

Summer Tanager (male), High Island area.

Summer Tanager (1st summer), High Island area.

Summer Tanager (female), High Island area.

Blue-winged Teal, Sabine Woods area.

Royal Tern (left) and Common Tern (right, note gray belly compared to Forster's Tern), Bolivar Flats.

Forster's Terns (smaller terns in foreground - note smaller size compared to Royal Terns in background and black on bill and white belly compared to gray belly of Common Tern, Bolivar Flats.

Brown Thrasher, Goose Island State Park.

Gray-cheeked Thrush (or Swanson's, or Hermit?), High Island area.

Hermit Thrush (or Swanson's, or Grey-cheeked?), Sabine Woods area.

Wood Thrush, High Island area.

Black-crested Tufted Titmouse, Goose Island State Park.

Ruddy Turnstone, Goose Island State Park.

Bay-breasted Warbler, High Island area.

Black-and-white Warbler, High Island area.

Black-throated Green Warbler, High Island area.

Blackburnian Warbler, High Island area.

Blue-winged Warbler, Goose Island State Park.

Cerulean Warbler, Goose Island State Park.

Chestnut-sided Warbler, High Island area.

Golden-winged Warbler, Goose Island State Park.

Kentucky Warbler, Sabine Woods area.

Magnolia Warbler, High Island area.

Prothonotary Warbler, High Island area.

Tennessee Warbler, High Island area.

Yellow Warbler, Goose Island State Park.

Veery, Sabine Woods area.

Philadelphia Vireo, Goose Island State Park.

Red-eyed Vireo, Sabine Woods area.

White-eyed Vireo, Goose Island State Park.

Yellow-throated Vireo, High Island area.

Northern (or Louisiana?) Waterthrush, Sabine Woods area.

The Lone Willet, Bolivar Flats.

Eastern Wood-Pewee, Goose Island State Park.

Red-bellied Woodpecker, High Island area.

Greater Yellowlegs in surf, Sabine Woods area.

Common Yellowthroat (male), Sabine Woods area.

Common Yellowthroat (female), Sabine Woods area.
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