Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Sugar House Pond, 9/5/17

After Ron Weeks turned up Short-billed Dowitcher and Ruddy Turnstones at the Sugar House pond last weekend, I figured I had better get over to check things out.  I arrived to find broad mudflats all around the 40 acre impoundment and thousands of shorebirds.  Bird of the day goes to this Red-necked Phalarope.  At first I was not sure that it wasn't a Red Phalarope so eventually I hiked around to the backside where I got a better view.  I've seen Red-necks here several times in the past but it's always a good bird the the RGV.

In the SE corner was a flock of six Ruddy Turnstones, a species that I had only seen twice before in Hidalgo County.

In the same corner were five Short-billed Dowitchers.  They are much more common along the Laguna Madre.  The gold edges on the scapulars and tertials make the ID easy on the juveniles.

Semipalmated Plover is also hard to find in the county.

I found a total of sixteen species which is pretty good for this inland site.  Here are Western Sandpipers in basic and juvenile plumage.

Here's a Western with a Least.

I did not photograph any Semipalmated Sandpipers today although there were plenly around so here's one from my visit two weeks ago.

And here's a Willet shot from two weeks ago.  I only saw one distant one today.

I estimated the total number of Stilt Sandpipers to be 2000 based on my count of 500 Wilson's Phalaropes.  I like the dark edgings on the rectrices on the juvenile bird.

Just a fraction of today's birds.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Magnificent Frigatebird at Delta Lake, 8/26/17

As Hurricane Harvey pushed up the Gulf just off shore from the Rio Grande Valley this past Friday, more than a hundred Magnificent Frigatebirds were blown in to South Padre Island where they delighted numerous birders.  Another hundred were also reported from the arroyo at Rio Hondo. Sensing that this might be my best shot at getting one in Hidalgo County I headed up to Delta Lake the following morning to try my luck.  It only took a few minutes.  Off to the west I saw a large black bird with long arced wings.  I grabbed my scope and sure enough, it was a Mangnificent Fringatebird!  It looped around the west side of the lake a few times giving excellent views.  I was even able to get some of my fellow Hidalgo County listers a new twitch.

The same day dozens were sighted inland from San Antonio to Austin along with Royal Terns a Sooty Tern and a Sabine's Gull.