Friday, July 31, 2015

Hargill Playa, 7/31/15

Early this morning I got a call from Marie Stewart saying that she was seeing Wood Storks at the Hargill Playa so I ran up there to tick them off for the year.  They were pretty easy to see.

A birding couple from Massachusetts were there hoping to see the Collared Plover but without a scope they weren't having much luck.  So I scoped around a bit and eventually found the little devil on the south side of the water.  That's the first time I've seen it over there this year.  The birders were happy to get some distant scope views.  After some time I refound it on the north side but it never came very close.  And then it flew back across to the south side.  I'm wondering if it's trying to avoid the mother Snowy Plover with her two new babies who have taken over the south shore.

Today wasn't nearly as hot as it's been.   But the past couple of weeks of 100+ temperatures and no rain is really drying out the playa and concentrating the fish and other organisms so that the birds are having a productive time feeding.

The Reddish Egret was using its wings to create some shade to make viewing its prey a little easier.

Normally I would have ticked my Wood Storks and moved on but there was a little cloud cover and not much wind so I thought I might wait it out and see if something else good might appear.  These two Cassin's Sparrows played on the fence while I was waiting.

Eventually my patience paid off as one more sweep of the scope found me my first Hidalgo County Willet for the year.  Mary Gustafson suggested it could be an "Eastern" Willet which is our coastal breeding subspecies but with the long skinny bill, I think it looks like a "Western" which could be an early migrant.  The ID of these two is not that simple in my opinion.

Here's an "Eastern" Willet I photographed up a Anahuac NWR last year.  The bill is much shorter and stouter.  But I think sex has something to do with it too.  Here's a link to an ABA Birding article about the two subspecies.

On my way to Hargill this morning I checked out flooded 13th Street on the south side of Hargill off of FM 493.  From a distance three brownish gallinule-looking things got my attention.  Closer inspection proved they were three young Purple Gallinules.

So it was a good morning.  My three and a half hours produce 46 species at the playa.

Fulvous Whistling-Duck  12
Northern Pintail  1
Pied-billed Grebe  1
Wood Stork  3
Neotropic Cormorant  20
Great Blue
Heron  1
Great Egret  5
Snowy Egret  30
Tricolored Heron  1
Reddish Egret  1
Green Heron  1
Black-crowned Night-Heron  1
White Ibis  2
Ibis  2
Roseate Spoonbill  7
Black Vulture  19
Turkey Vulture 1
Black-necked Stilt  50
American Avocet  6
Collared Plover  1 
Snowy Plover  10
Wilson's Plover  1   
Killdeer  6
Spotted Sandpiper 1
Greater Yellowlegs  1
Willet  1
Yellowlegs  7
Stilt Sandpiper  20
Least Sandpiper  30
Semipalmated Sandpiper 1
Western Sandpiper  5
Long-billed Dowitcher  1
Wilson's Phalarope 5
Laughing Gull  20
Least Tern  12
Gull-billed Tern  10
Black Tern 10
Common Nighthawk  10
Western Kingbird  1
Scissor-tailed Flycatcher 1
Loggerhead Shrike  1
Horned Lark  2
Cassin's Sparrow  2
Dickcissel 3
Red-winged Blackbird  50
House Sparrow  5

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