Monday, April 12, 2010

South Padre Island Birding and Center

On our second full day in Texas we decided to visit the South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center which is located on South Padre Island near the Convention Center. This is a pretty new park and facility which is associated with the World Birding Center. The center focus of the park is the visitors center which is loaded with interactive exhibits, auditoriums, classrooms, gift shop and topped off with a five story observation tower. The tower provides a great view of the entire park as well as parts of the island and the Laguna Madre. Just be careful or you might find yourself stuck like I did. I decided to go out on the balcony to get a better look only to find that no one had unlocked the doors yet, we got there right at opening, and so the door locked behind me. Thank goodness Michelle finally rescued me.
The park consists of 43 acres of various types of habitat including freshwater ponds, island scrub brush, brackish and saltwater marshes. Winding through the different habitats there is 4800 linear feet of boardwalks and paths as well as 7 different blinds.
The main subjects to photograph here were waterfowl and wading birds. We spotted six different types of herons and egrets, including the great egret, snowy egret, reddish egret, great blue heron, tricolored heron and the little blue heron, which is pictured above.
They were also some wading birds that we do not often get to see here in Minnesota such as the black-legged stilt, white ibis, endangered brown pelican, and the roseate spoonbill, which is pictured above. We were excited about the spoonbills, even though we have seen them on most of our trips to Florida, because this was the closest that we have ever been able to get to these spectacular birds.
Besides the waterfowl and waders there were also quite a few shorebirds including log-billed curlew, American wimbrel, least and semipalmated sandpiper.
However this park is not just for the birds. We spotted this turtle, which I believe is a red-eared slider swimming around one of the fresh water ponds. Red-eared sliders are often used as pets.
There were also a few predators hanging out in the park. At one point a northern harrier, sometimes referred to as a marsh hawk, flew lowly over the grass in search of prey and in the water there was an even larger predator. The American alligator often floats motionless on the top of the water, looking a lot like an old log, waiting for prey to get close enough where it can spring its trap.

16 comments:

Rick said...

Do you know whether the BLack-vented Oriole is still there today?
Thanks!

Carver said...

What a beautiful park and center building too. I've never seen a tri colored heron. What an unusual looking bird. We get quite a few great blues but no tri colored ones that I know of. All of these shots are such a great look into your beautiful world.

Sylvia K said...

I'm really enjoying your trip to Padre! Your photos are magnificent as always and what a marvelous park and building. I haven't seen many of the birds you've photographed and I love seeing them, such lovely colors! I would want to stay clear of the alligator!! Look forward to more! Have a great week!

Sylvia

Sistertex said...

Great photos. I've never seen a Tricolored Heron before. Beautiful.

Jedediah said...

The heron is beautiful. Thanks for sharing your trip with us :)

Catherine said...

love those bird shots...what alovely Nature Centre..

ewok1993 said...

I would spend a whole day here if I get to visit the area.

Rinkly Rimes said...

We too enjoy the Wetlands here, but your shots show a greater variety of wild life, that's for sure.

eileeninmd said...

Sounds like a wonderful place to go birding. Awesome photos, love the Little Blue, it is one of my favorite herons!

Coffeedoff said...

I love the pink one, the alligater looks scarey though!

Jossie said...

Great post again. The birds are beautiful, the alligator is exciting. Didn't he scare you off?

Mary Howell Cromer said...

Great stuff, love the reddish Egret, wow, I would love to have one of those chaps. Really beautful images, bravo~

Randi said...

What a wonderful park. I wish it was not so far away! These shots are beautiful and very exotic to me! Thanks for sharing!

J Bar said...

Looks to be a wonderful place.
Sydney - City and Suburbs<

Jenn said...

Cool little blue heron. Also love the turtle that's peeking out. Adorable.

Arija said...

What a great post! I love all your water birds but the smiling alligator takes the cake ... he looks so smug.