Waiting Patiently for (the Big) Spring Migration

Immature Forster's Tern at East Beach, Galveston Island, Texas
Winter Texan: Immature Forster’s Tern with Worm at East Beach, Galveston Island, Texas, in mid-March. A behavior I’d not seen before: Terns probing for invertebrates on an intertidal mudflat like sandpipers. Canon EOS 7D/600mm f/4L IS (+1.4x TC). High-speed synchronized fill-flash.

We’re just about there . . . just a few more days. Just a few more days until the most exciting birding of the year begins when hundreds of millions of birds begin pouring across and around the Gulf of Mexico. Sure, a few early birds are already moving through, but mostly it’s still the wintering species that I’m seeing. I also spotted some Wilson’s Plovers at East Beach. Many of these partial migrants extend their ranges north into Texas along the Gulf Coast of Mexico for the summer breeding season.

Wilson's Plover at East Beach, Galveston Island, Texas.
Partial Migrant: Wilson’s Plover at East Beach, Galveston Island, Texas in mid-March. Wilson’s Plovers begin arriving in Texas in mid-February. Canon EOS 7D/600mm f/4L IS (+1.4x TC). High-speed synchronized fill-flash.

On a few occasions over the past several weeks, I could have taken additional opportunities to step out (and deal with the mobs of maniac drivers) and look around and see who’s around. But then I think about the date, at the time of this writing still not quite officially spring, and think no, it’s unlikely that anybody really interesting is around, yet. In retrospect, this was probably a mistake. No matter what the time of year, Texas birding can offer up surprises and new experiences—it’s just a matter of exercising the discipline to get out and look.

Yellow-rumped Warbler at Lafitte's Cove, Galveston Island, Texas.
Winter Texan: Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle Race) at Lafitte’s Cove, Galveston Island, Texas. I saw bunch of these guys flitting about and thought Oh, boy warblers . . . until I got the big glass on them. Oh. It’s just you guys. Still. Canon EOS 7D/600mm f/4L IS (+1.4x TC). Natural light.

Let’s go. We can’t. Why not? We’re waiting for Godot.—Samuel Beckett, Waiting for Godot

©2014 Christopher R. Cunningham. All rights reserved. No text or images may be duplicated or distributed without permission.