The winds shifted around to the north again and we made another trip to South Padre Island to greet the next wave of spring migrants.
It wasn’t quite as magical as last week. The diversity of birds was about the same but the overall numbers were somewhat lower. It was another mini-fallout and even more mini than a week ago.
Still, there were plenty of highlights to please the eyes. Many of the birds, in their fresh spring plumage, seemed to be glowing. Some of our favorites were the Indigo Bunting, Summer Tanager, and Ruby-throated Hummingbird.
As always happens during migration season the mix of species was noticeably different after the passage of just a week. (That’s what makes spring on the island so interesting!) For example, we didn’t see any Hooded Warblers and the Swainson’s Warbler had moved on. This male Blackpoll Warbler was among the new arrivals.
There was a decidedly western tinge to the mix this time. Dozens of Western Kingbirds were hawking insects all across the island and nearly every good-sized bit of habitat had a Bullock’s Oriole.
Sadly, we noticed that the good-sized bits of habitat are still shrinking on South Padre Island. Despite the large crowd of birders and their obvious benefit to the local economy, the city still hasn’t made much of a commitment to preserving green space to continue to attract the birds and birders. When Michael was director of the Rio Grande Valley Bird Observatory at the Valley Nature Center, those groups helped the Valley Land Fund protect the woodlots on Sheepshead Street. Soon after, Wil and Gill Carter planted the warbler rest at the Convention Centre. These were private initiatives on both private and public land and the city seemed to “get it.” But over a decade later not much more has been done and the development of the island continues to shrink habitat.
We’ll continue to report on our birding adventures as the season progresses, wherever we might be. In the meantime, happy birding!