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Spring Migration on South Padre Island, Texas with Deb, April 2014

Updated on April 21, 2014
Pied-billed Grebe with Crayfish
Pied-billed Grebe with Crayfish | Source

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.

Prairie Dogs
Prairie Dogs | Source

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.

Cattle Egret in Breeding Plumage
Cattle Egret in Breeding Plumage | Source

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.

Great Horned Owlets
Great Horned Owlets | Source

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.

Feral Hog
Feral Hog | Source

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.

Green Jay
Green Jay | Source

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.

Snowy Egret
Snowy Egret | Source

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.

Sandwich Terns Mating
Sandwich Terns Mating | Source

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.

Sora
Sora | Source

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.

Roseate Spoonbill in Flight
Roseate Spoonbill in Flight | Source

What Else?

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?

Mottled Duck
Mottled Duck | Source
Great-tailed Grackle Bathing
Great-tailed Grackle Bathing | Source
Tennessee Warbler
Tennessee Warbler | Source
Black-throated Green Warbler
Black-throated Green Warbler | Source
Source

© 2014 Deb Hirt

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    • aviannovice profile imageAUTHOR

      Deb Hirt 

      3 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Imtil, you are so welcome. I will teach you all that I know about birds through this medium.

    • imtii profile image

      Imtiaz Ahmed 

      3 years ago from Dhaka, Bangladesh

      A very nice hub aviannovice. I learned new things like Migration. Find your writings very interesting. Love the pictures you used to describe your writing. I will visit you for more of your writings. Thank you :)

    • aviannovice profile imageAUTHOR

      Deb Hirt 

      4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Thanks, Mel. I'll have another interesting trip coming up next year, too.

    • Mel Carriere profile image

      Mel Carriere 

      4 years ago from San Diego California

      What a remarkable birding Odyssey. I really love that Green Jay. With its coloration it looks so un-Jay like. Great hub!

    • aviannovice profile imageAUTHOR

      Deb Hirt 

      4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Hey, teaches! That was one amazing place! I saw incredible things, including those that I wasn't quick enough to photograph.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 

      4 years ago

      The little Green Jay is so adorable! I am not to fond of the alligator photo though and wish they would migrate out of this country. Thanks for the lovely spring view of migration.

    • aviannovice profile imageAUTHOR

      Deb Hirt 

      4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Thanks for sharing, Faith Reaper. After all, it is only by through education that we can learn about what wonderful birds and animals that we have to protect.

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 

      4 years ago from southern USA

      Deb, thank you for taking us along with you on your wonderful trip to South Padre Island. What amazing shots you were able to get there!

      We lived in Texas for two years when my husband was in the Air Force long ago. I wished I had known about South Padre Island then. So glad I can visit via your wonderful hub.

      Up and more, tweeting and sharing

      I hope your weekend ahead is wonderful.

      Blessings.

    • aviannovice profile imageAUTHOR

      Deb Hirt 

      4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Hey, Jackie! Glad you liked the offerings at South Padre. It sure was a trip that I will never forget, as I really had the time of my life!

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 

      4 years ago from The Beautiful South

      The Cattle Egret looks like an old man! lol Great shots; all of them and just love the big ones!

    • aviannovice profile imageAUTHOR

      Deb Hirt 

      4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Thanks for sharing, Cris. The more people that see our natural beauties and learn how to protect them, the longer we will have them.

    • CrisSp profile image

      CrisSp 

      4 years ago from Sky Is The Limit Adventure

      I won't get tired watching those lovelies and thank you for sharing your wonderful hub with us. I personally feel like I am in touch with them through your hub.

      Great snaps. Today's favorite of mine are the Great Horned Owlets and the Roseate Spoonbill. Plus, you have ended your hub so well: "keep your eyes to the ground, and your head in the clouds."

      Love from the sky~

      P.S. Up++ and sharing.

    • aviannovice profile imageAUTHOR

      Deb Hirt 

      4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Lady Guinevere, I wish I could provide more photos, as it was so hard to make choices. Glad that you enjoyed it!

    • Lady Guinevere profile image

      Debra Allen 

      4 years ago from West By God

      Thanks for the information and all the pictures of the wildlife there on that island.

    • aviannovice profile imageAUTHOR

      Deb Hirt 

      4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Hey, rdsparrow! It was a fantastic experience. More things are definitely in the works!

    • aviannovice profile imageAUTHOR

      Deb Hirt 

      4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Hey, Alicia! Glad that you liked this. I saw so many other birds, and it was so difficult to chose just a few photos for one story!

    • aviannovice profile imageAUTHOR

      Deb Hirt 

      4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Kevin, I am making it a point to get around. The more that you encourage me, the more that I will do it, too.

    • aviannovice profile imageAUTHOR

      Deb Hirt 

      4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Yes, Dave, I heard that those two warblers were on South Padre Island, but I missed them. Lots of other things that I saw, though, that many did not.

    • rdsparrowriter profile image

      rdsparrowriter 

      4 years ago

      Wow ! Just so wonderful and exciting experience :) Thank you for sharing :) God bkess you!

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 

      4 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      This sounds like a wonderful place to visit, Deb. I hope you publish more hubs showing some of your photos of this area. What a great experience to see so much wildlife and to be so close to the animals! I love the photos in this hub.

    • The Examiner-1 profile image

      The Examiner-1 

      4 years ago

      That was neat Deb. You really get around. I am glad that you had a good time. I gave it a thumbs up+ and shared it.

      Kevin

    • D.A.L. profile image

      Dave 

      4 years ago from Lancashire north west England

      You must have been in paradise on this trip with the like minded people and the birds you love. Fantastic read. Talking of migration south my sources inform me there has been an irruption of northern and western chickadees such as the Chestnut sided and the Black capped are being found among the more usual Carolina Chickadee in Florida.

    • aviannovice profile imageAUTHOR

      Deb Hirt 

      4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Thank YOU, ChitrangadaSharan. There were so many pictures that are excellent that I didn't have room to post.

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

      Chitrangada Sharan 

      4 years ago from New Delhi, India

      Amazing hub, incredible pictures! I just loved the Great horned Owlets--how close!

      Very educative and informative as always! Thanks!

    • aviannovice profile imageAUTHOR

      Deb Hirt 

      4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Leslie, many of them are not native--they are just passing through.

    • aviannovice profile imageAUTHOR

      Deb Hirt 

      4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      You're welcome, whonu. Let's see what else I can try to find in the birding world!

    • aviannovice profile imageAUTHOR

      Deb Hirt 

      4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Billy, you are so welcome! It is truly a bird paradise.

    • aviannovice profile imageAUTHOR

      Deb Hirt 

      4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Anna, not really. During fallout, the birds don't care, they are so tired.

    • ImKarn23 profile image

      Karen Silverman 

      4 years ago

      i love texas, altho i've never been to the Island...

      i'm so glad you got to almost rub wings with the native birds..

      beautiful pics as always Deb!

    • whonunuwho profile image

      whonunuwho 

      4 years ago from United States

      Beautiful photos and information. Thanks my friend for sharing. whonu

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I've never been there but it would be a fascinating place to visit. Thanks for taking me along on your trip.

    • Anna Haven profile image

      Anna Haven 

      4 years ago from Scotland

      As always the ones on your hub are very striking. It is amazing you manage to get so close.

    • aviannovice profile imageAUTHOR

      Deb Hirt 

      4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      It was so difficult to choose pictures. I think I got about 100 great ones.

    • Anna Haven profile image

      Anna Haven 

      4 years ago from Scotland

      Your trip sounds incredible. To experience so many species first hand and to meet fellow birders from all walks of life must have been incredible.

      I love your last picture as I am a huge reptile fan.

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