Thursday, April 10, 2014

Ish Birds...Four In The Pink...Sora! Sora! Sora!

Reddish Egret. Obviously, this is a white morph, probably a young bird judging by the dull base of the bill. Hella elegant though. Speaking of Reddish Egrets, how come no other "ish" birds are in the U.S. and Canada? What about Purplish Sandpiper? That's a winning name right there. Yellowish Rail? Great Bluish Heron? I think I've struck gold.

Ever since the demise of the Perpetual Weekend, Saturdays and Sundays have taken on meaning again. No longer do I think, "Oh cool, my 9-to-5 friends will be down to go to a bar now". This is because A) I don't know anyone here that I would want to meet at a bar and B) because I work hella and I can only get some genuine and sustained birding in two days a week.

This weekend I am taking the nerdism to a much higher and more embarrassing level than usual and combining forces, once again, with Nate of This Machine Watches Birds. He's going to show me around the Corpus Christi/Port Aransas hotspots and hopefully hand me a lifer on a silver platter. I've spent minimal time birding that area, although I am happy to say that I am a Whooping Crane veteran. We'll see what the weather does, but next weekend I'm crossing fingers for a certain couple warblers and crossing toes for a certain couple nightjars. Or it might be a Life Is Pain weekend, but it will be good to escape the grips of the valley for a couple days.

Before BB&B returns to spring warbler madness, I thought I would pay my respects to some of the waterbirds that were around South Padre Island the other day.

Reddish meets Roseate...Reddish wins. South Florida is not the only place to go to see Reddish Egret and Roseate Spoonbill side by side.

Roseate Gull! Franklin's Gulls are migrating through the area now and they are easy to pick out from a distance because they are the only gulls that are glowing pink.

Here's one with a couple boring-breasted Laughing Gulls in comparison. Of course Franklin is not in possession of the most famous pink gull (that would belong to Ross), but I've always liked them.

You probably like them too. Admit it. Viewing this photo gives you the warm fuzzies. According to, this gull was named after Sir John Franklin, (who according to Wikipedia, died a horrible death while exploring the arctic wastes). The original name for this bird? Franklin's Rosy Gull.

Roseate Tern!!! Oh's just a roseate-colored tern, not a Roseate Tern. Sandwich Tern is an abundant bird on South Padre Island, and many of them are glowing pink now, much like their Elegant Tern cousins on the west coast.

There is a lot of sandwich courtship going on here. It's not as cool to watch as tandem aerial displays, but it is funnier.

The mighty bellow of a Royal Tern is a thing to behold.

I was lurking on the boardwalk at the birding center (which is next door to the convention center) and this semi-snazzy ibis traipsed out of the vegetation, not giving two fucks. I assumed it was going to be a White-faced (the expected Plegadis here), but a closer look proved me wrong.

Seeing no pink face and a depthless brown eye, I was ready to embrace it as a Glossy Ibis. But why the gray face ibis? Glossy Ibis does not look like this either.

Upon photo review, there does seem to be a slight tinge of pink in the face (apparently pink is the theme of this post), and maybe even some redness in the eye...which compliments the pale gray facial skin nicely if the bird is actually a Glossy X White-faced Ibis. Lifer hybrid! Tragically, I noticed that a "Glossy Ibis" was reported from eBird at the same spot that day.

The Sora. The commonest small rail. And yet, their abundance makes them no less difficult to observe from a very impressive proximity.

Soras of the boardwalk apparently do not know they are supposed to hide all the time. I know that not many people are frothing at the mouth for Sora observations, but it's a nice bird to come across when they are in a confiding mood.

I was pretty happy with these photos, even though the angle is kind of weird. Is there a scene more bucolic than a content Sora in a wetland? Clapper Rails run amok under the boardwalk too, hopefully I'll have a portrait of a Clapper Rail eyeball by the time I leave Texas.


  1. Diggin' the Tora! Tora! Tora! reference, as well as all of these rosy birds.

    You have major Sora crushes now too. It seems like everyone gets this opportunity, here all the sudden a male Sora just plops in the open. I'm still waiting for my day.

    Good point about not having other '-ish- birds too.
    Baldish Eagle and Scottsish Oriole have a certain quality to them, and Oakish titmouse may be my favorite. Could one get away with a whitish reddish egret?

    Good luck this weekend

    1. I was wondering if anyone would get that reference. BTW Laurence your birder movie on FB is amazing, keep it up! We need more!

      Hawks hawks hawks hawks hawks hawks hawks hawks hawks...

  2. Birder movie?? What???

    BTW Seagull, as if it weren't enough that you get all the songbirds through there, you get all the pink ones too? Although I guess you also have to deal with a pretty much complete lack of civilization around there, right? Bet it's hard to find good food and coffee and stuff. Just say yes, give me something.

    1. Nonbirding bennies...well, there is good Mexican food, and an abundance of breakfast tacos which no one in California seems to do. Other food...not so much. Coffee quality is quite low, which is a solid bummer.

  3. I am SO ENVIOUS. Pretty sure when I saw the egret/spoonbill shot, I said, "I hate you" out loud. Very uncharacteristic of my normally cheery self. WOW! SUCH great sightings & captures. I'm probably rankled 'cause I was THERE (in Feb) and it was SO COLD and WINDY that after 40 min outside on S.P. Island, I had windburn on my face that lasted 3 days. And ice covered trees as we drove away, so my companions were rather eager to bail. We DID see whoopers, and white ibis and sandhills, but NO PINK.

    I don't know WHY people don't clamor to see soras: I STILL remember exactly where I was when one was kicking around the reeds RIGHT NEXT to me in PERFECT, golden light at Merced NWR. Probably 8 years ago. (no camera, naturally) The ONLY time I've ever seen that delightful little creature. *sigh* Congratulations on benefitting from the generosity of soras.

  4. Sandwich courtship! The evolution of the PB&J makes so much sense now.

    Awesome birds here. Mad jealous. Duh.