Posted by: jasonbojczyk | 8 August 2014

South Winds=No Raptors, But Definitely Some Frigatebirds!

Today’s Count: 0

Additional Raptors Seen:

Black Vulture-3

Turkey Vulture-7

Cooper’s Hawk-1

Red-shouldered Hawk-1

As expected, today was another slow day for raptors.  No highlights with them whatsoever, so I’ll move on to the good stuff.  Both Brown Pelicans and White Ibis finally made a decent pass by the tower, but only 7 White Ibis were seen today.

Brown Pelican

Brown Pelican

White Ibis

White Ibis

Though not as numerous as yesterday, swallows did come in modest numbers today.  Barns outnumbered Cliff/Cave 3:1 for nearly the whole day but then Cliff/Cave turned it on right at the end of the count evening out the ratio.  Around 600 swallows were seen.  Diversity from the tower was the lowest yet with just 44 species seen today.  However, this guy was great to see late in the 7th hour of the count.

This stunning Black-bellied Plover in breeding garb passed the tower from the north and didn't hesitate to cross the bay in 10 mph south winds.

This stunning Black-bellied Plover in breeding garb passed the tower from the north and didn’t hesitate to cross the bay in 10 mph south winds.

Black-bellied Plover

Black-bellied Plover

Along with the shorebird theme, there is clear evidence of daily new arrivals and numbers here at Smith Point.  Fourteen species were seen today between the tower, Robbins Park and surrounding area, and the pond by Jerry’s Seafood.  Here’s the breakdown:

Black-bellied Plover-1

Semipalmated Plover-2

Killdeer-3

American Oystercatcher-5

Black-necked Stilt-8

Spotted Sandpiper-2

Solitary Sandpiper-1

Willet-4

Lesser Yellowlegs-1

Ruddy Turnstone-45

Sanderling-2

Least Sandpiper-60

Stilt Sandpiper-3

Dowitcher Species-1

After the daily scouring through of species at Robbins Park I noticed that a bunch of birds got up off the island that is off to the southwest of the tip.  This island didn’t seem to have too much on it numbers-wise in recent evenings but low and behold, tonight was a different story:

Magnificent Frigatebirds with Brown Pelicans and Laughing Gulls in the foreground

Magnificent Frigatebirds with Brown Pelicans and Laughing Gulls in the foreground

At least 100 Magnificent Frigatebirds

At least 100 Magnificent Frigatebirds (some Brown Pelicans as well)

Magnificent Frigatebirds were absolutely amazing and I’ve never seen that many before.  There were at least 130 in the air at one point, conservatively, and who knows how many additional ones on the island (scope views in that lighting were tough to differentiate birds).  Probably somewhere between 170-200 Frigatebirds were on or in the immediate vicinity of the island.  There’s almost always another 50+ Frigatebirds floating (over the bay) between Jeri Nelson Road and L. Nelson Road which puts the number of Frigatebirds at at least 220.  Who knows how many additional Frigatebirds are around the 3 bays and off the gulf coast just in Galveston and the Bolivar peninsula?  It’s a scary number to think about.  I’ll be out counting them again tomorrow.  Good Stuff!

 

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