After a quick breakfast at the 24h Waffle House over the road
from our hotel in Winnie we made the 20 minute drive south to High Island. First
stop was the much-lauded Smith Oaks Sanctuary. This is actually quite a large
reserve, with a big heronry as well as woodland and drips. Despite the southerly
winds it was not exactly heaving with birds, but we had excellent views of
Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Cedar Waxwing and a smart male Scarlet Tanager before we
had even left the car park. We paid the small entrance fee which covered us for
all of the Audubon reserves for the day, and eagerly headed out into the woods.
It was surprisingly quiet under the tree cover, but I picked out my first
Blackpoll Warbler quite quickly. Catbirds were everywhere, easily the dominant
bird – very pleased I did not schlep to Cornwall last year to see the vagrant!
We spent a pleasant morning here walking around, including
looking at the heronry which was heaving with Snowy and Great White Egrets,
Ibises and Roseate Spoonbill. A Green Heron flew across the lake, but the
photography opportunities were slim due to the orientation of the raised bund.
It would be better in the late afternoon but it also appeared that the golden
hour wouldn’t happen here due to the height of the trees alongside the water. We
continued to rack up bird species everywhere we looked – Cardinal, Baltimore
Oriole, various hirudines and warblers, and then Indigo Buntings out in the
field near the car park. Mostly however it was a massive warblerfest.
|Black-throated Green Warbler|
Wanting to see what other options existed, we relocated the
short distance to Boy Scout Woods mid morning. This was a lot busier with
people, but also had a lot more birds. Here we racked up Black and White
Warbler, Cerulean Warbler, Northern Parula, Black-throated Green Warbler, American Redstart, Yellow Warbler, Tennessee Warbler, Northern Waterthrush, Swainson’s Thrush and Blue Grosbeak. We ended up spending the rest of the day here. As we left I was lucky enough to see a Mississippi Kite flying north. It had been a shattering day, and very hard work behind the camera, but we had really sussed out the location and knew better how to approach it in the following days. High ISO basically!!
|Swainson's Thrush drunk on Mulberries|
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