Last Thursday I flew down to Beaumont, Texas for two and a half days of birding the Upper Texas Coast with some Audubon donors and board members. Here's a quick look at where we went:
Bolivar Flats IBA
Jasper State Fish Hatchery
Martin Dies State Park
Sadly, we missed the Yellow Rails on one of the scheduled rail walks at Anahuac (a very rare occurrence indeed on those great walks). We did have a mystery rail that might have been a Yellow Rail, but it didn't have the white wing patches that these guys usually have. Not sure exactly what that bird might have been, some options:
1) strange Yellow Rail without wing patches (unheard of?)
2) juvenile Sora that didn't molt into adult plumage last fall (unheard of?)
3) A strange Latin American vagrant, such as Yellow-breasted Crake (never before seen in USA)
Not a lot of good options there, so a real mystery at this point.
We did get great looks at a lot of the regular Upper Texas Coast species, though the landbird migrants were extremely thin (we got 4 species of warblers in two hours at High Island!). Highlights were great close looks at Clapper, King, and Virginia Rails. Snowy, Piping, and Wilson's Plovers at Bolivar Flats (as expected). Glimpses of Bachman's Sparrow, LeConte's Sparrow, and Nelson's Sharp-tailed Sparrow. Great looks at Red-cockaded Woodpeckers at Boykin Springs. And finally on the mowed runway margins while taking off from Beaumont, an Upland Sandpiper--perhaps my favorite "shore" bird.
Non-bird highlights were my first ever River Otter at Texas Point (a jinx mammal finally in the bag!) and catching a Speckled Kingsnake at Smith Oaks at High Island.
And last, but for sure not least, the sights, sounds, and smells of some great parts of the country--including saltmarshes, pine woods, bottomland forests. Also a memorable dinner at Bryan's 797. Due to a lack of migrant landbirds, we only managed about 160 bird species. But a great couple days all the way around.