Monday, March 30, 2009

Texas birding hotspot appears in Los Angeles Times

Sunday's print edition of The Los Angeles Times and the website highlighted Texas' High Island as a travel destination.

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In the Times' article, Hugo Martin writes:
This mound of trees and shrubs, only a mile in diameter, has a reputation as one of the country's top birding sites. As an occasional bird watcher, I was drawn here by this reputation. But I was rooting for a storm because, according to bird aficionados, the best bird watching on High Island takes place during, or just after, a storm front with strong northerly winds. Migrating birds -- warblers, orioles, thrushes and others -- struggle against the gusts as they fly north from the Yucat√°n Peninsula, 600 miles across the Gulf of Mexico.

When the exhausted birds reach the shore and spy the hospitable habitat, they sometimes fall from the sky. High Island is geographically suited for this phenomenon -- known as a fallout. From the air, High Island looks like a protrusion of trees, surrounded by flat, salty marshlands, an ideal resting spot for migrant birds.

After a storm, the wind-battered birds are so exhausted by the trans-gulf flight that they become almost oblivious to bird watchers. Enthusiasts who have seen a fallout told me that you can almost pick up and pet the exhausted birds. I felt guilty for wishing such conditions on these innocent creatures. But it's a centuries-old natural event, so why not take advantage of an opportunity to see some rare neotropical birds up close?

My visit to High Island in early March, however, taught me that Texas' unpredictable weather makes it difficult to plan to see a fallout.
The online version also offers a photo gallery and an If You Go sidebar.

Have you visited High Island? What is your favorite memory from your visit(s)?



Blogger Kyle said...

Thanks for sharing the LA Times article, Amy. In case anyone wants a little more info on High Island (or wants to keep track of post-Ike updates), you can go here or here on the Houston Audubon Society site. That second link also includes info on HAS-sponsored bird walks and field trips at High Island.

March 31, 2009 8:28 AM  
Blogger Amy said...

Gracias for the additional info, Kyle.

March 31, 2009 9:20 AM  

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