Friday, November 7, 2014

Swantner Park

Trip Date:  10/18/2014

My regular readers may recall that I went to Corpus Christi in search of the Bar-tailed Godwit, but couldn't find him.  He was relocated in a small bayfront park along Ocean Drive, so I headed back again for another try.  According to my field guide, this is a common bird in Alaska, who normally flies nonstop in fall to southwest Pacific wintering grounds.  Texas is far from Alaska or the Pacific, but he found his way here.

This is my entry for Skywatch Friday.  Those clouds dumped quite a bit of rain on the city that weekend.  Visibility was so bad that highway traffic was moving only 20 mph at times.  I crossed the causeway without realizing I'd even reached the bridge, so intent was my concentration on the road so I wouldn't end up in deep water or the back seat of the car ahead.  The original plan was to continue south to the Lower Rio Grande Valley if I found my bird quickly.  Flood warnings changed my mind.  

Long-billed Curlew

The Bar-tailed Godwit was reported to be hanging out with a mixed flock of Marbled Godwits and Long-billed Curlews.  The curlews were visible from the road as soon as I reached the park.  I pulled into the parking lot, grabbed my binoculars, and scanned the nearby godwits to find the one that was not like the others.      

Marbled (left, darker) and Bar-tailed Godwit

There he is, grooming in the rain like God turned on the shower just for him.  He has an incredibly bendy neck.  

I took a few photos, then got back in my car to find a nearby hotel room where I could wait out the storm.

Franklin's Gulls

There were still a couple of hours of daylight left after the rain stopped, so I headed back out to see what else was hanging out at Swantner Park.  I asked another birder and he said, "Lots of Franklin's Gulls."

What?  I assumed I was looking at Laughing Gulls.  I should have paid more attention.  The Franklin has a half hood, whereas the Laughing only has earmuffs.  The wing pattern of his buddy confirms the ID.  

Sanderling (front, lighter) and Ruddy Turnstones

Approaching the bay, I noticed there were steps leading down to the water, similar to those found on the seawall, but not as tall.  There I found waders and shorebirds such as these Ruddy Turnstones and Sanderling.  

This is not a numbered birding trail site, though it is found along the Central Texas Coast section of the Great Texas Coastal Birding Trail.
Early Afternoon
Species Identified (15):  Marbled Godwit, Bar-tailed Godwit, Long-billed Curlew, Killdeer, American White Pelican, Franklin's Gull, Sanderling, Ruddy Turnstone, Semipalmated Sandpiper, Great Blue Heron, Double-crested Cormorant, Willet, Laughing Gull, Great-tailed Grackle, Rock Pigeon


  1. Great looking birds - we get Godwits from Alaska in Australia - they fly here in one go!

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

  2. Great post, Jen! Congrats on your Bar-tailed Godwit lifer, a nice bird. Great tip on iding the Franklin Gulls..Love the photos.. Have a happy weekend..

    And if you would like, I would love if you would link up this post to my critter party today..

  3. Yes....Yes!!! I'm very glad you found the bar-tailed!!!! This past spring, Bud and I traipsed through the mudflats in Oso Bay when it was first reported here in TX. We spotted it with the help of one birder who had a scope...but the photos I got of it back then, were nothing compared to when it was spotted at the park on Ocean Drive.

    Great photos!!!

  4. You are doing so well Jen and your images are beautiful!! A lifer, is always an exciting moment!! I adore anything with a long bill, how in the world do they not break those things!!

  5. Well done Jen. Your persistence in those treacherous conditions paid off with another lifer. Excellent images, including the Sanderling and Turnstone that are well known to me.

  6. You should check out the birds in the Okefenokee! Nice photos!

  7. fine shots of the curlew and godwit. Birds that always makes me happy when I see them.

  8. congrats on the rare sighting! almost all the shorebirds would be new to me. :)

  9. fabulous photos of the birds, for such tiny little things they do some adventurous things, thanks for sharing your photos

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  10. Quite the collection of shore birds! I need to bone up on this subject as we're heading to Florida this winter. We have no lakes and no shores in our Minnesota county so this doesn't help my shorebird expertise....:)

  11. Love the photo of the godwits!

  12. Superb shots of the birds. So nice.

  13. That curlew has one impressive beak!

  14. Amazing how many spottings you were able to get. Love your shot of the curlew. What a beauty! The sanderlings and godwits are pretty cool.

  15. Nice finds. Love the long billed curlew! You are in my old areas, and I am enjoying your birding ventures.