A victorious screech greeted our arrival at South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center. Overhead an Osprey toting his catch flew by landing on the rail of the nearby water tower.
In the centre of parking lot a small garden played host to a number of different butterflies. Last year, they were just planting the many trees and shrubs designed to attract the winged beauties. I was happy to see it flourishing.
This Nature Center offers 3300 feet of boardwalk spanning a variety of habitats, and was a favourite last year. My fingers were crossed for an equally rich experience this visit.
Our first encounter was a Tricolored Heron, who immediately crossed the boardwalk in front of us, landing to our right. Several Moorhens already foraging there seemed quite upset by the newcomer’s presence, although he adopted a rather stoic and unconcerned stance. Lurking in the nearby shadows, I noticed, was the real cause for alarm: a small alligator eyeing up the crowd.
A little further upstream, two ducks swam into view, and while I was focusing elsewhere, decided to couple in front of me. I had a feeling this was going to be a good day.
The boardwalk includes five bird blinds, the second of which sets us out over the water. Here we spotted a Reddish Egret, Roseate Spoonbills, Pintail and Blue-winged Ducks, as well as several Black-necked Stilts (a personal favourite) and many others.
Pretending he wasn’t present was this Great Blue Heron surreptitiously hiding in a nearby tree.
I’m getting the feeling he’s my mascot this year.
Further along, more spoonbills were cuddled within closer view. A White Ibis joined them as we passed.
Every where we looked there was something to keep our cameras busy, and at the last bird blind the resident Big Daddy alligator made his appearance for an adoring crowd.
No disappointment to be had on this outing, and afterwards I was ready for the long drive home and a few days of rest.