Readers’ wildlife photos

June 1, 2015 • 8:15 am

It’s an all-bird day today. First we have a series of shorebird photos by reader Damon Williford, who gives this information:

Attached are photos of some of the many shorebirds that migrate through southern Texas in April and May on their way northern breeding grounds. The exception of the Tricolored Heron and Laughing Gull which breed here, as does the Blue-winged Teal during wet years. This was the first time I’ve ever observed Wilson’s Phalaropes following a duck. I’m guessing they were gobbling up whatever invertebrates the teal stirred up. One of the great things about living in South Texas is that its on the verge of the Neotropics.
Wilson’s phalaropes (Phalaropus tricolor) following a blue-winged teal (Anas discors):
2015-05-02 Blue-winged Teal and Wilson's Phalaropes (Port Aransas) 2
Dunlin (Calidris alpina):

2015-05-02 Dunlin (Port Aransas)

 Laughing gull (Leucophaeus atricilla):

2015-05-02 Laughing Gull (Charlie's Pasture, Port Aransas)

Lesser yellowlegs (Tringa flavipes):

2015-05-02 Lesser Yellowlegs (Port Aransas) 1

Long-billed dowitcher (Limnodromus scolopaceus):

2015-05-02 Long-billed Dowitcher (Port Aransas) 1

 Stilt sandpiper (Calidris himantopus):

2015-05-02 Stilt Sandpiper (Port Aransas) 2

 Tricolored heron (Egretta tricolor):

2015-05-02 Tricolored Heron (Port Aransas)

Wilson’s phalarope (Phalaropus tricolor) and stilt sandpiper:

2015-05-02 Wilson's Phalarope and Stilt Sandpiper (Port Aransas)

Reader Karin from Uppsala sent a photo showing a thieving magpie:

The magpies (Pica pica) have discovered the birdfeeder outside my kitchen window, and I captured one with my Iphone camera.


16 thoughts on “Readers’ wildlife photos

  1. Wow. These are all very cool. That tricolored heron is especially amazing. Elegant death on stilts for any inattentive fish or frog.

  2. Great pictures, all. Damon Williford, I find it interesting that the phalaropes are following the teal. Your explanation that they are looking for whatever the teal stirs up is a plausible one. You may know that these phalaropes are often observed where individuals swim in tight circles, whirling around, and it is thought this behavior also stirs up to the surface and perhaps corrals insects, etc., for a meal.

    1. I expect that this behavior is widespread among birds. In this case it looks like the teal has an ‘entourage’ of hangers-on. Teal groupies, maybe.

    2. I’ve posted this vid before but it’s also relevant here. Find the phalaropes in this Northern Shoveler gyre:

      (Ignore the Buffleheads. Pardon the sea-sick quality-I was shooting with a super-zoom in dim light through a chain-link fence at birds that were very far away.)

  3. Terrific assortment of shore birds. When I see different species of birds who live in similar niches (here, the shore) and who have very similar attributes (long beaks, stilt-legs, longish necks) it is easy to conclude that evolution is true.

    Great magpie bif shot too.

  4. I probably should have mentioned that the dunlins and long-billed dowitchers are also winter residents along the Texas Gulf Coast. Dunlins and dowitchers that I observe during the winter in this region, but even April they’re still sporting their winter plumage.

    1. Wonderful shorebirds! Love the breeding plumage!

      One of us should probably mention that with the phalaropes, it’s the female that’s most colorful. 🙂

  5. Lovely photos. The tri-color heron has a little top knot of yellow feathers that adds to its color, sometimes sticking up rakishly. I think these feathers might be visible in the photo along the back of the head. When the birds are somewhat concealed on their nests, say, in red mangroves, that little bit of yellow top-knot can help a bird surveyor detect them, as does partial sight of the brownish feathers against the rounded blue back. Beautiful birds.

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