This is a continuation of the great birding morning we had in Galveston, TX back in late December as described in my previous post. We finally reached one of our planned destinations, the Galveston Island State Park. Here we added a couple more lifers to our list. In a parking lot, Nick spotted an American Pipit - our second lifer of this trip! (The first being the Eastern Meadowlark). We watched the Pipit for about 10 minutes as it moved towards the adjacent grass to forage for food, where we also saw more Savannah Sparrows and a couple of Killdeer.
We walked a trail around the marshland a bit, and then happily came upon our first White-tailed Kite! We first saw it soaring and kiting about as it is known for doing. It was flying away from us, but we hurried through the footpath following it. In flight, we noticed its tell-tale dark wrist spots and black shoulders. We finally arrived at a bridge where we watched it land in a tree quite a ways away from us. We relished in its beauty and noticed it pumping its long white tail.
|White-Tailed Kite kiting|
|White-Tailed Kite - Notice the black shoulders|
|White-Tailed Kite making a gorgeous turn, its head straight and wings vertical|
We enjoyed the looks we got at that time, but it was when we were on our way out from the park that we noticed another White-tailed Kite hovering above a field, and with the blink of an eye, the Kite dropped straight down with such ease and grace. And when it came up from the tall grasses, it had a small mouse in its clutches! The Kite then flew over to what appeared to be its home base in a bare tree where it met with its mate. We watched them together, and then we watched as they would switch off from their post, seemingly to take turns gathering food. We were able to get much better looks at its gorgeous contrasting grey and black and white colors and its striking, darkly outlined red eyes.
|White-Tailed Kite with a Mouse|
|White-Tailed Kite spreading its beautiful tail feathers|
|White-Tailed Kite pumping its tail|
|White-Tailed Kite pair swapping places on their post|
|White-Tailed Kite Pair|
Interestingly enough, we had been on a trail called "Clapper Rail Trail" and had not seen any clapper rails, to our disappointment. But driving a little ways to where there was beach camping, we stumbled upon none other than a Clapper Rail! This was not our first, but we did get a great look at it as it did not take notice of us at first. Then, sensing our presence, it scampered away and disappeared in the marshy grass. We walked over to where it had run off to see if we could find it, and the grasses weren't even that tall, but it had disappeared into the ether, as rails are so good at doing.
|Clapper Rail scampering away|
We then saw another familiar face, a young Roseate Spoonbill, fly in front of us just as we were leaving the beach.
|Roseate Spoonbill in flight|
We left the park feeling extremely satisfied. We were hoping to get a glimpse of some new waterfowl, possibly Snow Geese, but we had no luck there. We did happen upon some Gadwall (a lifer) and Green-winged Teal in a road-side pond. We also stopped at the drab beaches of Galveston, but all we found was a Sanderling foraging for food amongst what appeared to be lots of plastic bottles, but which on closer inspection were actually tons of Portuguese Man-of-War!
|Sanderling foraging amongst Man-of-War|
On our way out of Galveston, Nick quickly saw a few Common Loons in the intercoastal waterways as i drove over a bridge, but even when we pulled over to a nearby empty lot to catch a glimpse, they were too far off at that point to get good looks at them. We were then shooed away by some construction workers across the way as we were apparently in an area where we didn't belong. Nevertheless, we left Galveston extremely satisfied and pleased with our findings.