Saturday, October 18, 2014

Mad Island WMA

The Mad Island Wildlife Management Area and the Clive Runnels Family Mad Island Marsh Preserve are both closed to the public, but access may be arranged on special occasions.  When a White-cheeked Pintail was spotted on the WMA, someone was kind enough to organize such a visit.  

May 3, 2014, a group of birders, myself included, relocated the bird.  If you were to enlarge the picture below, you'd see the duck off by himself to the right of the larger group has a sharply delineated white cheek.  

The White-cheeked Pintail is a vagrant from the Caribbean.  There was some controversy over whether this one should be counted as a wild bird or if he is an escapee.  I'm not sure what was officially decided, but I'm counting him on my life list.  

One benefit of a large group of birders is more eyes to spot and identify the birds.  A drawback is that we can't get very close.  I got a good look at the White-cheeked Pintail through someone's scope.

Several people generously shared their equipment and expertise on this day.  After I reacted with great excitement at seeing my first Glossy Ibis, they came and got me when they found another.  I have found birders to be incredibly friendly people.    

When I first arrived, I noticed several people in knee-high rubber boots.  I asked if we were going to actually need to wade in the water and was a little confused when they gave negative responses.  It wasn't too long before I realized the purpose of the boots.

The Western Massasauga Rattlesnake was vigorously making his presence known.  "Be careful," someone warned.  "A snake that size can strike 20 feet."

Snakes can generally strike half of their body distance, and this was certainly not a 40-foot snake, but I allowed him plenty of space anyway.  That's what zoom lenses are for.    

I found the Swift Long-winged Skimmer not far from the rattler.  I hear tell of people that go "bugging" as well as birding.  I already have enough expensive habits.  I will photograph them when  I cross paths with them, though.

At least 53 species were identified by our group.  Most were too far away for close-ups.  Above is a Canvasback, a lifer for me.  He's the one in the grass not sleeping.

The Wilson's Phalarope, seen here to the right of a Lesser Yellowlegs, was another.

I'm linking up this week with Saturday's Critters.

8am - 1:30pm
80's, sunny
Species Identified (53):  White-cheeked Pintail, Northern Pintail, Blue-winged Teal, Red-winged Blackbird, Redhead, Yellow-Crowned Night-Heron, White Ibis, White-faced Ibis, Glossy Ibis, Great Egret, Snowy Egret, Cattle Egret, Little Blue Heron, Reddish Egret, Sora, Least Sandpiper, Willet, White-rumped Sandpiper, Baird's Sandpiper, Dunlin, Pectoral Sandpiper, Stilt Sandpiper, Laughing Gull, Forster's Tern, Gull-billed Tern, Black Tern, Caspian Tern, Royal Tern, Seaside Sparrow, Northern Shoveler, Purple Gallinule, American Coot, American Golden Plover, Semipalmated Plover, American Avocet, Black-necked Stilt, American Wigeon, Boat-tailed Grackle, Canvasback, Semipalmated Sandpiper, Bronzed Cowbird, Brown-headed Cowbird, Belted Kingfisher, Greater Scaup, Northern Bobwhite, Lesser Yellowlegs, Wilson's Phalarope, Chipping Sparrow, Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, Whimbrel, Savannah Sparrow, Tri-colored Heron, Common Moorhen


  1. the rattler would not have made me too excited to be there. :) glad we don't have them here. congrats on the canvasback and other sightings!

  2. Texas is such a good place to see birds, congrats on the new birds. The rattler looks big, I had to deal with some in San Diego so I'm glad not to have them up here.

  3. Great post - always good to find new birds. I liked the line about what zoom lenses are for - good advice for this country. Our snakes are just starting to get active after their winter torpor.

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

  4. Yes i would have been wary of that snake. Congrats on lifer. Have a great week.

  5. That list of 53 species contains some really exciting birds for me here in the UK. I like the picture of the Wilson's Phalarope and the yellowlegs beacuse it is very instructive for size comparison.

    That rattlesnake looks huge, even with a zoom lens. Nice the way you captured the rattle end of the snake.

  6. Congrats on your new birds.. The snake is cool from a distance of course.. The Wilson's Phalarope is a beauty.. Great photos and outing..Thanks so much for linking up this week. Have a happy Sunday!

  7. Great shots of the birds! That rattler was a nerve-racking find but I am so glad you got a picture!

  8. Great shots!!! I love that one of the snake. I've always been cautiously fascinated by them ;)

  9. what an awesome collection of critters!! i love the dragon fly, i can never capture them!!!

  10. Once again great post and congratulations on identify 53 new species. I look forward to the photos.

  11. Looks like a fun trip. I would not like to run into that rattlesnake though!

  12. You found some great things to snap! Congrats on your bird list, too. I just shoot what I like--it's a lot less stressful for me than searching for particular things.

  13. I have found birders to be very friendly people too. I would add the pintail to my list too if I had been lucky enough to have been there. :)

  14. Such beautiful photos!!! Now, that rattlesnake would have had me UNABLE to focus my camera for watching my step!! LOL! blessings ~ tanna

  15. All those sightings - I'd say that was a successful outing!
    Your snake caught me off guard. Have you ever been told to wear rubber boots? That seems like it would be standard equipment.
    Good to hear from you while I was on my unintentional blogging hiatus. It's good to be back.
    (In answer to you question: yes, Girl #1 is at college living in a dorm. She's only an hour and 15 minutes away. I'm happy for her - that she is now on the path to eventual independence.)

  16. Your nature is amazing and dangerous one.