Athena on the Central Gulf Coast of Texas

Athena has been a busy binocular, bouncing all over the country through spring migration. From San Diego, CA to the Rio Grande Valley, TX to Florida to Colorado (for spring chickens) to Arcata, CA to Corpus Christi, TX to the Shores of Lake Erie in Ohio and Wisconsin and Georgia…

One of these trips was to attend the fun and birdy American Birding Association‘s convention in Corpus Christi in late April.

Brown Booby pair seen from the Hotel window!

Brown Booby pair seen from the Hotel window!

The very first bird added to the list was a fun one and a major highlight for all attending. ABA staffer, Tyler Bell, found Brown Boobies on a channel marker, and most people (and Athena) got their first views of these birds through the hotel windows! Not all of the birding would be quite this easy though and most of the other species required setting down your drink and actually going outside.

male Hooded Oriole - ABA Convention, Corpus Christi, TX

male Hooded Oriole – ABA Convention, Corpus Christi, TX

The central Gulf coast of Texas has one of the highest concentrations of bird species in the US. Here, Eastern species mingle with Western species, as well as many of the South Texas specialties. As example, the local breeding Hooded Oriole above was seen side by side with migrant Orchard and Baltimore Orioles.

Harris Hawks are a common resident species. (Corpus Christi ABA convention)

Harris Hawks are a common resident species. (Corpus Christi ABA convention)

Local Harris’ Hawks were seen alongside TX specialty species like White-tailed Hawks, as Swainson’s & Broad-winged Hawks migrated past!

Scarlet Tanager migrant - Leica V-lux 4, Corpus Christi, TX

Scarlet Tanager migrant – Leica V-lux 4, Corpus Christi, TX

Brilliant male Scarlet Tanagers were pushing through with numerous Indigo Buntings, Blue Grosbeaks, and various migrant warblers as local birds like Black-crested Titmouse were breeding. Another highlight was enormous flocks of migrant Dickcissels which filled weedy fields throughout the area and gave their distinctive buzzy calls overhead.

King Ranch provided Vermilion Flycatcher (as expected from the patch) and more

King Ranch provided Vermilion Flycatcher (as expected from the patch) and more

At the famed King Ranch we saw all of the specialty species one would hope for including Greater Roadrunner, Vermilion Flycatcher, Audubon’s Oriole, Northern Beardless Tyrannulet, Tropical Parula, and Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl!

Ferruginous Pygmy Owl digiscoped at the King Ranch

Ferruginous Pygmy Owl digiscoped at the King Ranch

Some of these are birds are so restricted in their range in the US that seeing any one of those would be a treat, but to see the all on one trip was simply amazing!

Whooping Crane digiscoped from boat Corpus Christi, TX

Whooping Crane digiscoped from boat Corpus Christi, TX

In all, Athena tallied 186 species in just 5 days and added 55 NEW species to the year list on this trip. The final trip bird added to the list… the endangered Whooping Crane!