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Spring Migration on South Padre Island, Texas with Deb, April 2014
What is Migration?
Mid-April is the most interesting time of year, as birds are on their way back to their breeding grounds, especially water, shore, and songbirds. One of the primary migratory areas is South Padre Island in Texas on the Central Flyway, which is near the Mexican border. This area has a high count of migratory birds, as it has everything that they need so they can rest and replenish themselves for the long and grueling journey north. By the time that they get to South Padre Island, they need a short breather after their journey from Central or South America.
Southern Oklahoma Sights
On my way to South Padre, my first stop was Medicine Park, OK, followed by the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge in Indiahoma, OK. For the first time, I saw prairie dogs, the Greater Roadrunner, and a collared lizard. I also saw buffalo, longhorn steer, and prickly pear cactus.
South Padre Island
The meat-and-potatoes part of this trip was South Padre Island itself. People have mentioned the fallout, which is literally hundreds of birds that drop where they will, just too exhausted to got on. They rest where they land and feed, but I never expected to see these birds like that. As a matter of fact, I could not even fathom birds within a few feet of me resting without even caring that I was practically right beside them. But the dream came true. I was actually nearly rubbing elbows with Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks, Mottled Ducks, Laughing Gulls, Cattle Egrets, Tri-colored Herons, the Sora, Red-breasted Mergansers, and a host of other birds. The alligator, painted and red eared slider turtles, deer, and wild hogs were also in my midst.
Other Texas Birding Notable Mentions in Texas
There were also a few side trips, as well, to other populous birding and wildlife areas like Aransas National Wildlife Refuge, Marble Falls, Laguna Atascosa, and Johnson Park in Marble Falls, Texas. Marble Falls was home to a Great Horned Owl family, and on the way back home, I saw the two owlets that I was unable to see the first time. This lovely park also had a nesting Pied-billed Grebe, Blue-winged Teals, and several domestic and wild duck crosses.
Aransas National Wildlife Refuge
At Aransas National Wildlife Refuge just south of Austwell on Highway 2040, I was privy to the eastern black swallowtail butterfly, Black and Turkey Vultures, white tailed deer, feral hogs, the Greater Roadrunner, and numerous songbirds.
Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge
Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge in Los Fresnos, Texas boasted the Plain Chachalaca, Bronzed Cowbird, the beautiful and striking Green Jay, and the Harris’s and Swainson’s Hawks. Unfortunately, the wild cats(ocelots) were breeding, so this area was closed and I was unable to give you a first hand account with a wild cat here. The caracara was also spotted, as well as several feral hogs, including hoglets.
This remarkable daily trek began at 5:30 a.m. and I worked some nights until 10 p.m. processing and posting photos, some days getting as many as 450 shots. I wager to say that for this very active and grueling trip in some parts, I captured approximately 1,000 clicks. Even though this was a working vacation, I enjoyed myself immensely, even though I had a heavy camera and tripod to carry around, sometimes as much as five miles at a stretch.
Birds, Wildlife, and Butterflies
If you consider yourself a birder, you’ll definitely appreciate the assortment of birds, wildlife, and butterflies that this trip has to offer. For every bird that I saw, I only wonder what I didn’t see that was directly in front of me. This journey is certain to please both the novice and experienced birder, and there is something for everyone on every hike that you take in this area. By all means, I did not exhaust every venue in this area, there is still so much more.
Were There Surprises?
I didn’t even mention the Osprey, the mating rituals of the Great-tailed Grackle, observing mating Sandwich Terns, the extensive warblers at the Convention Center, and the elusive Clapper Rail and beautiful Sora at the Birding and Nature Center. Was there more? There certainly was, but I am not going to tell you, as I want you to experience your own adventures and tell your own tales of what you saw.
I met birders younger than teens and older than dirt. This is a great place to be to learn more about birds and nature, which will happen naturally. When you observe those birds mounting up on your individual Life Lists, you’ll just want to see more.
I could have seen you at White Rock Lake in Dallas. Maybe I’ll see you in Pakistan, Ecuador, or Papua New Guinea. In the meantime, keep your eyes to the ground, and your head in the clouds. Happy birding!
How Do I Get to South Padre Island?
© 2014 Deb Hirt