Home > Birding > Birding Galveston – Day 2, Part 2: Rollover Pass and Bolivar Flats

Birding Galveston – Day 2, Part 2: Rollover Pass and Bolivar Flats

After lunch, I drove up a bit further to Rollover Pass. The last street before it is North Bauer Lane. I crossed the bridge and parked on the bayside (left, if you’re heading north).  This is list as one of those must-see birding locations. By now, it was getting closer to high tide than low, but that did not cause any problems.

Royal Terns (first)

Royal Terns (first)

Terns galore. The above photo is probably my favorite from the whole trip. We’re all thinking the same thing, so I don’t need to say anything :)

Black-bellied Plover (winter)

Black-bellied Plover (winter)

American Avocets ruled in quantity, but a handful of Black-necked Stilts were out, too.

Black-necked Stilt

Black-necked Stilt

This is a fantastic spot of photographing birds in flight. They flight right by you, over you, next to you, everywhere!

Huge Brown Pelican

Young Brown Pelican (still quite large)

Part of the American White Pelican flock.

Part of the American White Pelican flock.

The pelicans were great fun to watch. They all flew in at once and swam towards the coast (where I was). They all fish at the same time, which makes for some nice dance moves. Takeoff is even more impressive.

American White Pelicans taking off.

American White Pelicans taking off.

Brown Pelican in breeding colors.

Brown Pelican in breeding colors.

Greater Yellowlegs (probably)

Greater Yellowlegs (probably)

American Avocet posing for me

American Avocet posing for me

Black Skimmers were everywhere. They were preset at the previous site, but now they were actually close enough for decent photos. I mistakenly took these for Oystercatchers in my ignorance.

Black Skimmers

Black Skimmers

Just before I left, another birding couple drove up. Soon after they arrived a pair of Roseate Spoonbills flew by overhead. Luck was with me since my camera was ready for once.

Roseate Spoonbill

Roseate Spoonbill

Interestingly enough, the couple was from Montreal! We talked for awhile and they recommended not going to High Island. Birding was not great, but worse, the mosquitoes were extremely bad. This makes me wonder that if it’s this bad in November, what’s it like in April during the peak of spring migration? We parted ways and I headed back towards the ferry. But I wanted to check out Bolivar Flats. If you’re coming from the North, as I was, turn left (coast-side) on Retilion Drive. This is the first street on the right after the North Jetty. By now, it was almost high tide, but there were still several flocks on the beach. There is no problem driving along the beach and you can get very close to the birds. So close, I switched to the 6D for the remainder of the day. Glad I did, because it produces beautiful photos even if something as common as a gull.

Ring-billed Gull

Ring-billed Gull

Lesser Yellowlegs (probably)

Lesser Yellowlegs (probably)

Forster's Tern (definite first)

Forster’s Tern (definite first)

Can't get enough of the snooty Royal Terns.

Can’t get enough of the snooty Royal Terns.

I had a difficult time telling the gulls apart. I think the first one below is a Herring Gull and the other I’m not sure. Maybe California Gull?

Herring Gull

Herring Gull

California Gull ???

California Gull ???

I may have mentioned this before, but I did take something of a “shoot first” approach. With so many unfamiliar birds, the best I could do sometimes was to look for “one of these is not the same as the others”. In this case, the yellow beak of the Sandwich Tern was a giveaway.

Sandwich Tern

Sandwich Tern

Elegant Brown Pelican in flight.

Elegant Brown Pelican in flight.

And that’s it for birds. Sunset was rapidly approaching so it was time hitch a ride back on the ferry. The sun was finally out, which made for a couple of nice photos.

SS Selma

SS Selma

This is the SS Selma. A concrete tanker launched in 1919, it took significant damage less than year later upon hitting a jetty. In 1922, she was partially submerged here. Quite a contrast to the 1,000-foot Carnival Magic that passed near by. Wow, this thing is truly massive.

Carnival Magic at sunset.

Carnival Magic at sunset.

Whew. That’s alot more photos than I planned, but it was just too much fun not to share. 3 more days of birding left!

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