Sunday, June 28, 2015

Tern, Tern, Tern... Common Terns on Boca Chica today

Here's a first summer Common Tern, smaller than the Sandwich, with a dark carpal bar and heavy bill.   

This second bird is the same age but has a less distinct carpal bar and a more extensive black cap.  It never gave me good views, and when it flew it headed straight to the horizon.  Still, the  legs don't look overly short and the bill is about "middling" in length.

 Here's an adult, which had some dark red on the bill and a gray blush on the breast.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Melanistic Dove at the National Butterfly Center 6/27/2015

All indications are this is going to be a strange year.  I spent a few hours this morning looking and listening for Dan J's Yellow-green Vireo at the National Butterfly Center (don't call me NABA) in Mission.  While I didn't have any joy with the vireo, which was singing heartily for Dan, I did have a pair of Bullock's Orioles pass through the area of the feeding station and cross the levee twice before 9 AM.

By far the oddest bird was an apparently melanistic White-tipped Dove.  Now you might ask why "apparently" melanistic or "apparently" White-tipped, and those are both good questions.  The bird was "apparently" melanistic because it was black, however it was missing a lot of feathers on the neck and the bases of the feathers was pale.  The area seemed "greasy" as though perhaps the bird got into something, but other areas of the plumage didn't appear to be anything but normal feathers that happened to be jet black.  So why "apparently" White-tipped?  Well, it's hard to imaging identifying a black dove until you are faced with one.  This bird had a yellow-orange eye but lacked the shocking light blue eye skin of a White-winged.  The tail wasn't pointed like a Mourning Dove, and the bird was large.  The bird also left the feeding station by walking through the brush barrier at the back and not flying out of the area.
If you go to NBC keep your eyes open for this stunning bird, I'd love to see some better photos of it!  The bird landed behind the food can and walked rapidly into the feeding station, almost immediately going nearly out of view behind the water feature.  As I saw it out of the corner of my eye I though "pigeon" but the second look obviously wasn't.  I wish it had been more cooperative, or I'd seen it a second sooner.  But that's birding!

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Gray Hawk nest with five chicks!

Here's a great shot by Bill Supulski of the Gray Hawk nest with a record five chicks.  This is the largest clutch documented for Gray Hawks.