immature white morph Reddish Egret, digiscoped w/ Leica APO spotting scope
None-the-less, there are subtle regional differences and I always get wonderful photo opportunities. For example, the Texas gulf coast seems to host a greater percentage of the white form of the Reddish Egret like the immature seen above then I see near my home. I always enjoy my time here as a result. While the area is a stone throw from world famous migrant traps like High Island, I find myself oddly content to just bird the island and enjoy it's spoils when here.
This is the time of year when migration is just beginning to crank up, so I always see many new migrant species for the year including my first returning warblers. For the fourth year in a row, I once again saw my 1st returning Chimney Swifts of the year from the rooftop cocktail reception held annually at this event!
Laughing Gulls call and display at East Beach in Galveston, TX
More over though, the birding is fun because spring is fully in the air and evident everywhere you go. Familiar local species are exciting to observe because they are all courting and displaying. Laughing Gulls in high color can be seen everywhere parading in tandem and throwing their heads up giving their characteristic calls. Willets sing long songs from marsh-side posts & bushes or while perform flight displays. Northern Harriers loop pendulously over the marsh as well performing spectacular aerobatics.
Many of the wading birds are also in their finest feather of the year. With high breeding plumes and bright facial skin and legs. The Reddish Egret above was exceptionally aggressive toward other wading birds as it preened its plumage to perfection.
Red epulets gleaming, male blackbirds "Conk-er-reeeee!" loudly and chase females doggedly when they fly up from the marsh, while Clapper Rails tussle for superiority at the edges of the brackish channels.
male Red-winged Blackbird throws its wings out in a flashy display while calling!
Being an island, there is a lot of areas for shorebirds and wading birds that are famed, but that is not all that Galveston has to offer. Bushes throughout the island typically hold at least one Scissor-tailed Flycatcher as they return from points south. The few hammocks of trees are fabulous migrant traps for warblers, and the short grass fields host migrant American Golden Plovers and Long-billed Curlews. Historically, these same fields played host to many migrant Eskimo Curlews. Now believed to be extinct, Galveston Island is one of the last known areas where these birds were seen in the wild! It's great fun to stand at the edge of these same fields and imagine a large flock of these birds swinging in off the gulf and noisily announcing their triumphant return to the US!
Seaside Sparrow sings from marsh grasses near East Beach, Galveston Island, TX.