After the bus stopped near the refuge's visitor center, we ambled to the road and started hearing and spying Green Jay, White-tipped Dove, Long-billed Thrasher, Orange-crowned Warbler, Eastern Phoebe and huge waterfowl flights. We could hear all those wings flapping overhead. We also spied Northern Mockingbird, Ladder-backed Woodpecker and White-winged Dove before splitting into smaller groups. I followed Cameron toward the
On the way there, I got to see a Northern Cardinal bathing in a stream, and Cameron found a Wilson's Warbler -- very dapper with his black cap. At the blind, the Great-tailed Grackles tended to dominate the feeders, but after they left, more Green Jays moved toward the seed.
Then we walked along the various winding paths around the visitor center, looking into the native plants for hidden treasures. We saw many butterflies, large and small, and this lacy leaf really caught my attention.
The bus took us to Osprey Overlook, which gave us views of thousands of waterfowl. I really enjoyed seeing a Roseate Spoonbill, which flew by and then started feeding with its side-to-side motion. We also watched Snowy Egret, Great Egret, Long-billed Curlew, Northern Pintail, American Coot, Ruddy Duck, Lincoln's Sparrow, Northern Harrier and Sandhill Crane.
Along the loop, the bus stopped so that we could look for raptors, which we found overhead and in the distance. I really enjoyed the two White-tailed Hawks as well as Sandhill Cranes, White-tailed Kite, Cooper's Hawk and White Ibis.
At Laguna Madre, the body of water between the mainland and Padre Island, we spied Great Blue Heron, Ring-billed Gull, Curve-billed Thrasher, Black-bellied Plover, western Willet, Long-billed Curlew, Osprey as it fished, Reddish Egret, Great Egret, Ruddy Turnstone, Double-crested Cormorant, Laughing Gull, White-tailed Kite as it fished and a trio of terns: Forster's, Royal and Caspian.
I can't remember which of those birds Kevin was going to scope, but I remember the fellow in the orange hat, Chris, staying pretty close to the trip leaders during the morning. He lives in Pennsylvania and this was his first visit to south Texas, so it was fun to see his enthusiasm and curiosity about the birds and sites.
And here's a view of Laguna Madre toward South Padre Island. After a quick return to the auditorium in Harlingen, Kevin lead some of us toward the spot in the park where he's spied Tropical Kingbirds, distinct from Couch's Kingbird by virtue of their call. We easily spied a Vermilion Flycatcher (I might try to match his hair color someday) and saw a TRKI but couldn't get good long views. There's always tomorrow!