Thursday, February 22, 2018

Salineno and Falcon, 2-20-18

Spring has sprung in the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas and that usually means lots of warm SE wind with low pressure up north and high in the Gulf.  The other day 45 mph gusts were reported in the area and it was so windy in our Progreso Lakes yard that I had to give up trying to get any yard work done.  So I decided to try to escape the winds by heading west up the river.  It turned out a good choice.  I planted my scope next to the river and waited for something to happen and this flyby Red-billed Pigeon made the trip worthwhile.

Then an unexpected Herring Gull cruised by, my 201st Starr County bird.  I'm sure they annually get a few on Falcon Reservoir.

I watched a few "mallard" type ducks and could not decide if the were Mottled Ducks or Mexican Mallards.  Then a really confusing pair flew by.  The female (lower) looks like a Mottled with the unbordered purplish blue speculum.  But the male has white edging on its speculum and looks to be a Mexican Mallard.  Others have seen this male previously and thought it might be a hybrid as the speculum is not blue enough. 

I missed the Zone-tailed Hawk I was hoping for and there was no sign of White-collared Seedeaters so I walked up the hill and watched the feeding station for a while.  Nothing fantastic up there but I liked this Altamira Oriole photo.  I earlier saw a couple of Audubon's Orioles along the river.

Lunchtime was approaching so I ran up to Falcon State Park to spend some time at the butterfly garden and eat lunch.  This Pyrrhuloxia begged me to be photographed.

While I was eating I remembered something about a Rock Wren being seen recently behind the rec building.  I asked inside about it and no one had heard anything.  But I got instructions on the location of the rocky outcrop back beyond the picnic area.  It took a little while but eventually the Rock Wren popped up.  I've seen this species a couple of times in the boulders along Falcon Dam but that was back before 9/11 when the area was accessible.  Turnsout this bird is actually in Zapata County as best I can figure.  The Starr/Zapata County line runs through the park at an angle making county birding a chore up there.

This morning (2/22) a cold front unexpectedly entered the Valley and pushed out the hot humid SE wind and replaced it with a cool northerly breeze.  I spent some time in the yard hoping the change of weather might "shuffle the bird deck" and I was rewarded with a flock of American Goldfinches.  They were species #195 for our yard.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Elegant Trogon in New Braunfels, 2/6/18

Back on January 27, someone was birding in Panther Canyon in New Braunfels' Landa Park when she found and photographed an unfamiliar bird.  She posted the photo on a Facebook group called "What's this bird?" and it turned out to be a female Elegant Trogon.  The local birding community finally heard about it on 2/4 and was able to refind the bird.  It was seen again yesterday.  So even though I saw the Frontera Elegant Trogan back in 2005, I decided to get up early for the four and a half hour drive.  After a couple of hours the assembled group found the bird and I got to photograph this 7th Texas record.  Great bird!

Elegant Trogon is a well known species that normally only occurs in SE Arizona in the United States.  But it's common in Mexico and the recent the cold weather probably forced this one down out of the mountains.  The 2005 trogon at Frontera Audubon in Weslaco also occurred after some very cold weather.