Posted by: 3pomjaeger3 | 10 September 2013

8 September: Even more storms!

ImageOne of a bazillion, well, okay, quite a lot, of Ruby-throated Hummingbirds tanking up at the tower feeders today.  The picture is taken from the lower deck looking up at the birds visiting the feeder on the upper deck.  The wings are in the process of being rotated upside down, a capability restricted in birds to hummingbirds that enables them to gain lift on the wing’s upstroke, thus enabling a hummingbird’s entire way of life.  All photos are copyright 8 September 2013 by Tony Leukering.  Click on image(s) to see larger version(s).

I arrived on the tower by 7:15 am and had by 8:30 ‘enjoyed’ two periods of sitting in my car waiting out rain/thunderstorms.  Then, in late morning when a hawk flight had started to develop… yeah, you guessed it, another period of storms.  This one lasted some two hours and finished off the raptor counting for me for the day.  However, I had the pleasant company of Dave and Jan Hanson and friends to help pass the time, even adding a couple of good birds during the time:  Brown Thrasher and Yellow-breasted Chat, both found by the same visitor.  Thanks!  Jan and I spent part of this time photographing the scads of hummers, so I might as well put up a couple more pix.

rthu-smithpoint-9-08-13-tl-03-cropscreen-lowresrthu-ad-m-unk-smithpoint-9-08-13-tl-1-cropscreen-lowresThe action at the upper-deck feeder, which was subject to the east wind more so than the lower-deck feeders, made for some fancy flying by the hummers.  The large Rattlebox/Rattlebean (Sesbania sp.) shrub just to the NE of the tower makes a convenient perch for multiple hummers while they await the need to go partake of the feeders again.  This adult male and unknown age/sex bird (probably a female) amicably shared this perch.

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher tally:  Hmm, I don’t know.  I had put in a placeholder ‘1’ in my eBird checklist when I entered it via BirdLog from my phone.  I must have forgotten to replace it with the actual value, because I’m fairly certain that I counted more than one!  I’ll correct this when I get back to my data sheets.

White Ibis moved in good numbers this morning before the long rain delay; I counted 382 today.  The surprise of the day were the two dabbling-duck flocks, the first a flock of 85 Mottled Ducks going directly over the tower heading south across East Bay.  The second was a flock of 11 well out over the Bay heading west, but they were too far away to ID.  This is the first time this year that I have seen more than a few Mottled Ducks from the tower, and only about the fourth time that I’ve recorded the species from there this year.  A male Pileated Woodpecker gave a quick view during a fly-by; we had heard it call a couple times earlier from the East Motte.  The species is fairly rare on Smith Point, as evidenced by eBird data.  A Northern Parula provided a ten-second view in the oaks right in front of the tower, but no visitors were present at the time, Joanna having gone to Robbin’s Park at the Point at the time.  Joanna was, however, present for the two Bronzed Cowbirds flying east over our heads from the direction of the little cluster of houses off to our west off Hawkins Camp Road.  Both the parula and the cowbird were new tower birds for me!

Quizzes, past and present:  The quiz picture provided in the 5 September post is of a dove flying directly overhead.  The white tip and black base to the tail should eliminate all but Eurasian Collared-Dove and White-winged Dove of the countable species in Texas.  One of the features that separate the former from African Collared-Dove and at least some other Streptopelia doves is the black base extending down the outer web of the outermost tail feather.  However, White-winged Dove shares that feature, in fact, taking it farther than does Eurasian Collared-Dove, with a longer black outer web.  An additional feature pointing to White-winged Dove over Eurasian Collared-Dove is the brown chest contrasting with the paler belly; Eurasian Collared-Dove is more unicolored below.

The new quiz is a bit different.  The subject of the picture below is the obviously male Blue Grosbeak (a female-plumaged Blue Grosbeak is the other bird).  The point of the quiz is determining the bird’s age, and it is a multiple-choice quiz:  a) second-year male molting into definitive basic plumage, b) adult male molting into winter plumage, c) juvenile male molting into first-basic plumage.  Take a stab at it!

blgr-quiz-smithpoint-9-08-13-tl-1-cropscreen-lowresRaptors counted:

  • Mississippi Kite – 4
  • Broad-winged Hawk – 6
  • Total – 10

Today’s eBird checklist



  1. A.

  2. B. because of the time of year

  3. Ok, I’ll bite. It can’t be c. A HY male (or female) would be brown right now. I don’t believe it is b because an adult male should still be all blue since they molt on the wintering grounds into basic plumage. So that leaves a, an SY male that has retained brown body feathers.

  4. […] First, the Blue Grosbeak quiz from the 8th.  We have a Blue Grosbeak with significant amounts of blue plumage, but it is not […]

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