Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Sal del Rey, 10/15/14

This morning I ran up to the Sal del Rey unit of the Lower Rio Grande NWR to check on the water conditions.  There's now plenty of water and plenty of birds.  This big white-tailed buck greeted me as I walked in from Brushline Road.

Walking in I saw a small flock of Nashville Warblers and a couple of sparrows but not a lot else.  Upon arriving at the glassy calm lake I was afraid there was nothing on the water.  But some careful scoping started turning up stuff.  A flock of White-fronted Geese flew over with a lone Ross's Goose bringing up the rear.

I whistled my poor Snowy Plover call and a flock of Least Sandpipers with a single Western Sandpiper flew in , followed by a lone Snowy Plover.

Scoping across the lake I found a tight raft of American Coots, 35 Eared Grebes and a hundred Wilson's Plovers.  I'm hoping the phalaropes will stay for the CBC like they used to before the lake dried up.

A flock of Northern Shovelers flushed and were soon joined by three Northern Pintails.

Other shorebirds were Greater Yellowlegs, Long-billed Curlew and American Avcocets.  A flock of 40 Laughing Gulls were joined by two young Herring Gulls.  Herring Gulls are hard to find in Hidalgo County.

On the way out the harks started rising.  Two flocks of Swainson's Hawks totaled 112.  Here some of the diverse plumages.

On the way back to Weslaco I drove down Brushline Road where there were plenty of flooded fields.  It should be good birding this winter.  I then ran over to Hargill where the Collared Plover playa was as full as I've sever seen it.  There were tons of birds but they were very distant, mostly Least and Western Sandpipers with a lone Wilson's Phalarope.  Driving east along FM 490 there was more standing water. Here's the Sal del Rey list.

LRGV NWR--La Sal del Rey (LTC 005), Hidalgo, US-TX
Oct 15, 2014 8:40 AM - 10:55 AM
Protocol: Traveling
2.5 mile(s)
54 species

Greater White-fronted Goose  25
Ross's Goose  1
Gadwall  15
Blue-winged Teal  6
Northern Shoveler  30
Northern Pintail  3
Eared Grebe  35
Neotropic Cormorant  20
Great Egret  1
Snowy Egret  1
Cattle Egret  12
Turkey Vulture  6
Cooper's Hawk  1
Harris's Hawk  1
White-tailed Hawk  1
Red-shouldered Hawk  1
Swainson's Hawk  112
American Coot  60
Sandhill Crane  2
American Avocet  2
Snowy Plover  
Killdeer  1
Greater Yellowlegs  3
Long-billed Curlew  6
Least Sandpiper  47
Western Sandpiper  1
Wilson's Phalarope  100
Laughing Gull  40
Herring Gull  2
Common Ground-Dove  6
Mourning Dove  10
Golden-fronted Woodpecker  2
Ladder-backed Woodpecker  1
Crested Caracara  1
Eastern Phoebe  2
Great Kiskadee  1
Couch's Kingbird  2
Scissor-tailed Flycatcher  2
Green Jay  1
Barn Swallow  50
Cliff Swallow  1
Black-crested Titmouse  4
Verdin  1
House Wren  3
Ruby-crowned Kinglet  1
Northern Mockingbird  3
Orange-crowned Warbler  1
Nashville Warbler  4
Cassin's Sparrow  1
Lark Sparrow  5
Lincoln's Sparrow  2
Pyrrhuloxia  1
Red-winged Blackbird  40
Great-tailed Grackle  15

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Pine Canyon Trail, Big Bend National Park, 10/11/14

I finally got an opportunity to get out to Big Bend this past weekend.  My goal was to check out the butterflies on the Pine Canyon Trail on the east side of the Chisos Mountains.  Of course some mighty fine birds have been seen through the years in this canyon in the moist area below the pour off;  including Fan-tailed Warbler, Flame-colored Tanager and Northern Pygmy Owl.  Well I didn't find anything of that caliber but it was still a nice day.  Red-breasted Nuthatches are showing up in the state this winter so it wasn't a big surprise to find one in Pine canyon.

Migrants are still passing through.  Here's a Cassin's Vireo.

My only warblers were a Black-throated Gray Warbler and four Townsend's Warblers.

When visiting west Texas during the cool season, I always hope to find a Red-naped Sapsucker.  This one may spend the winter.

Canyon Wrens like the acoustics in the narrow canyon.  It's a great place for singing.

Another treat out west is getting to study western Empidonax flycatchers.  This little cutie is a Hammond's Flycatcher.  Notice the small dark bill and eye ring that is wider posteriorly.  The long primary projections are hard to make out in this photo.

I'm pretty sure this is a Dusky Flycatcher.  The bill is too long and narrow for a "Western" type Flycatcher and it doesn't match any eastern empids.

Texas Madrone is fruiting and that's just fine with wintering Hermit Thrushes.  Now let's hope an Aztec Thrush or an Elegant Trogon wanders up from Mexico to enjoy the berries


Here's the days list.

Big Bend NP--Pine Canyon (FWTX 43), Brewster, US-TX
Oct 11, 2014 8:40 AM - 3:40 PM
Protocol: Traveling
3.0 mile(s)
Comments:     Two miles on trail and one mile below trail on road.
28 species

Red-tailed Hawk  1
Broad-tailed Hummingbird  3
Acorn Woodpecker  2
Red-naped Sapsucker  2
Northern Flicker  3
Hammond's Flycatcher  2
Dusky Flycatcher  2
Plumbeous Vireo  1
Cassin's Vireo  3
Hutton's Vireo  1
Mexican Jay  6
Black-crested Titmouse  12
Red-breasted Nuthatch  1
Rock Wren  5
Canyon Wren  4
House Wren  1
Bewick's Wren  5
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher  1
Ruby-crowned Kinglet  10
Hermit Thrush  5
Black-throated Gray Warbler  1
Townsend's Warbler  4
Green-tailed Towhee  1
Spotted Towhee  1
Rufous-crowned Sparrow  1
Canyon Towhee  1
Cassin's Sparrow  1
Clay-colored Sparrow  1