Tuesday, September 18, 2018

South Padre Island, 9/16/18

Yesterday I decided to get away and check out fall migration on South Padre Island where I spent much of the day with long time Valley native and top notch birder Brad McKinney.  We saw a lot of good stuff but the bird of the day got misidentified.  While Brad and I were taking a break at the Convention Center and discussing the fantastic spring migration of warblers through the mangroves, he mentioned that he needed a Pine Warbler to get to an amazing 40 species of warblers for the year at just this one site.  Well just a bit later this buff yellow-throated Setophaga warbler with white eye arcs and wingbars and blurry streaking down the sides pops up in a tree with Yellow Warblers.  Pine Warbler I yell to Brad.  He didn't see it but I got him on the bird when it appeared a second time.  But he was looking into the sun and didn't get great looks.  I showed him my photo and he agreed and was happy.

Well------ I started editing photos this evening and found my Pine Warbler had dark streaking on the back.  So it's not a Pine Warbler.  The field guides are pretty useless so after looking at photos on the internet, immature Blackpoll Warbler was the best I could come up with.  Wrong again!  After posting it on Facebook, eastern birders recognized it as an immature Blackburnian Warbler.  Well, that plumage is a first for me.  (I just got confirmation from Jon Dunn that it is indeed a Blackburnian.)




Warbler numbers were not great but there was good diversity at both Sheepshead and the Convention Center.  Canada Warblers were at both locations.


As were American Redstarts.


Prothonotary Warbler is a trough one to get down here in Spring and even more difficult in Fall.  This one was at Sheepshead.



We don't get many Tennessee Warblers in Fall.  The white undertail coverts rule out the similar Orange-crowned.


Black-throated Green Warbler at Sheepshead.


Lovely male Wilson's Warbler.


Worm-eating Warblers are not usually common but were at both locations.


A Northern Waterthrush.


An Ovenbird strutting around.


Black-and-white Warblers are pretty common but I still like 'em.


On the non-warbler side this Groove-billed Ani has been at Sheepshead for over a week.  Two more were at the Convention Center.



The other prevalent fall migrants were the flycatchers.  It was a good opportunity to study different Empidonax species and Brad and I debated on more than a few.  One thing I learned is I may have misidentified Acadian Flycatchers as Yellow-bellied in the past.  We had several bright yellow-green Acadians.  Their long, heavy bill with the orange lower mandible is very different than the short wide bill of the Yellow-bellied.  As is usually the case, structure matters more than color.




Here's a Yellow-bellied Flycatcher.


There were plenty of Least Flycatchers.


And then there was this one.  It immediately struck me as something different.  I thought it was a Hammond's, but others think it's just a Least.  The spacing on the primary tips are even and rule out Hammond's Flycatcher.



And the day ended with this Magnificent Frigatebird passing overhead.


Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Santa Ana NWR, 8/26/18

Six days ago I checked out Santa Ana NWR and expected a bunch of Yellow-breasted Chats and a few Mourning Warblers.  I got skunked on both but saw a lot of Empidonax.  Well today I gave it another try and six days made a difference.  Yellow-breasted Chats were out in force with a count of thirteen.  Here's a brave one that responded to my crude imitation of their song.


Usually they are peering out from undercover.


I also manged to dig out three Mourning Warblers.  This male has a bit of a broken eye ring suggestive of MacGillivray's Warbler but it's not thick enough.  In fact the eye arcs are different on each side.



Young birds have pretty bold broken eye rings but not the short thick eye arcs of MacGillivray's.  The young Mac also has a whitish throat as opposed to this young Mourning Warbler's yellowish throat.


This Hooded Warbler at Willow 1 refused to come out in the open.


I walked between Willow Lakes 1 and 2 hoping to find a Louisiana Waterthrush.  I did but this was the best shot I could get.


Twenty Yellow warblers were a pretty good count.


And a couple of Black-and-white Warblers.



This young Common Yellowthroat had me scratching my head a bit.



I also saw six Alder Flycatchers and another ten Willow/Alder Flycatchers along with three Least Flycatchers.  Here's an Alder.


I usually walk past the Harris's Hawk but it demanded a photo today.


So fall migration of passerines is starting to pick up.  Wish it would rain.