This past Sunday, the opening day of the Great Texas Birding Classic featured the BigSit! competition. A team selects a prime spot, and reports all birds seen from within a 17 foot circle in 24 hours. Competitors are allowed to come and go, but cannot count any birds while not in the circle. Our GCBO team utilizes a spot along a levee road at San Bernard National Wildlife Refuge, due south of Houston on the coast. The refuge provided us a marsh buggy to sit on (about six feet high), which helped see stuff at a distance. The levee separates a brackish marsh from a small woodlot. Open water can be seen a ways out with a scope.
Our team totaled 103 species. I haven't seen the other results yet, but I think the teams from south Texas did better. We missed a lot of expected things, and had very few shorebirds and very few migrant passerines. Since a north wind had been blowing since Saturday morning, we suspect that most of the migrants left the night before, although spots east of us like High Island reported tons of birds on the coast. Most of the Friday night arrivals apparently were directed slightly eastward, as the wind shifted from the south, then the west, and then the north that night.
Best birds? A Golden-fronted Woodpecker was very unexpected - only the second record for the upper Texas coast. Raptors were scarce - Caracara, Broad-winged, Red-tailed, and Swainson's. There were thousands of soaring Anhingas. Lots of snakes and alligators. Not much else of note. It was a beautiful day, and I have the sunburn to prove it.
Photo by Greg Lavaty