Saturday, August 2, 2014

Collared Plover at Hargill or I'm back Baby! 8/2/14

I did very little birding during the month of June after the spring migration and absolutely none during July. For the past four weeks I've been undergoing treatment for facial actinic keratosis and having a lot of work done on our house so I just didn't get out at all. But today with my face doing better and my handyman off for the weekend I decided I was going to get out and either look for birds or butterflies. Mary Gustafson told me there were lots of shorebirds up at Sugar House pond, so my decision was to go birding. Turned out pretty good.

 I'll skip to the good part. At 11:40 I got my scope out at the Hargill Playa on 1st and Lincoln. Lots of water and shorebirds. I was happy to find my first county Baird's Sandpipers for the year. Then I saw a Snowy Plover which is pretty good. And then I was surprised to find a Wilson's Plover still present. Except it looked weird. The bill seemed too narrow, not a typical fat Wilson's bill. And it had a big gleaming white forehead with a black band going across the head from eye to eye. And it looked too small headed for Wilson's Plover. I considered other possibilities. Bill too long for a Semipalm. It wasn't a Snowy or Piping. What's left? I knew the only other alternative but dared not get too excited. I managed to get some not too great photos and the bird still just looked wrong for Wilson's. Then I got distracted by a white morph Reddish Egret which is a great county bird in its own right. At this point I decided I needed to head for home and check my photos with photos online. And I was right. My little plover is the second record of Collared Plover for the ABA area. The only other record of this neotropical shorebird was one seen in Uvalde Texas in May of 1992. I've seen a few in Mexico and farther south but I didn't remember the black lores being a field mark. Collared Plover is a bird I've hoped to encounter for years and I finally found one!

And here's the white morph Reddish Egret with his buddy the Snowy Plover.

I started the day at the Sugar House pond on FM 1425 north of FM 107 where I ran into Mary G. There were lots of whistling ducks and shorebirds but nothing unusual. I need to be checking this place every few days.

Black-bellied Whistling-Duck 600 Fulvous Whistling-Duck 400 Mottled Duck 4 Redhead 1 Ruddy Duck 52 Eared Grebe 1 Great Egret 1 Snowy Egret 1 Little Blue Heron 1 Roseate Spoonbill 6 American Coot 2 Black-necked Stilt 250 American Avocet 6 Killdeer 4 Lesser Yellowlegs 25 Stilt Sandpiper 40 Least Sandpiper 50 Semipalmated Sandpiper 20 Long-billed Dowitcher 4 Wilson's Phalarope 275 Laughing Gull 2 Gull-billed Tern 2 Black Tern 25 Bank Swallow 5 Dickcissel 1 Red-winged Blackbird 10 Great-tailed Grackle 30

 A run up FM 1015 to the pond on the west side of Delta Lake produced my first county Wood Storks and Least Bittern for the year.

Then I stopped by Delta Lake and found the water was pretty high with just a narrow shoreline exposed along the highway on the west side. Nothing great but if the water goes down a bit this place should pick up. So I headed west on FM 490 and found a wet place with quite few birds including 60 Fulvous Whistling-Ducks. This was in Willacy County. 

My next stop was Hargill and, wow, did it ever produce! Snowy Egret 1 Tricolored Heron 2 Reddish Egret 1 Black-necked Stilt 33 Collared Plover 1 Snowy Plover 1 Killdeer 1 Lesser Yellowlegs 1 Stilt Sandpiper 10 Baird's Sandpiper 4 Least Sandpiper 20 Semipalmated Sandpiper 3 peep sp. 30 Laughing Gull 22 Gull-billed Tern 2 Caspian Tern 2 Western Kingbird 1 Scissor-tailed Flycatcher 8 Horned Lark 1 Verdin 1 Northern Mockingbird 2 Dickcissel 1 Red-winged Blackbird X Great-tailed Grackle X

 So I headed for home but just couldn't resist a run into Delta Lake County park where 65 Wood Storks were on the pond near the entrance.

So my first time out in over a month netted five Hidalgo County year birds, my 380th Hidalgo County bird my 550th Texas bird and my 673rd ABA bird. Gee I should get out more often.

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