Monday, May 2, 2016

Hargill area ponds, 5/2/16

This morning I ran up to Hargill to check the playa and ponds in the area for migrant shorebirds.  Right off the bat I found a good one at the Hargill Playa on 1st and Lincoln, a Sanderling.  These may be abundant on the beach at South Padre Island but are hard to find in Hidalgo County.

There are several pairs of Snowy Plovers and they have already fledged at least two young which were a bit too distant to photograph.  You have to use your imagination to see them.  The female was sitting on eggs last week and I'm glad they survived the rain.

This Olive-sided Flycatcher perched on the electric line was a surprise.  Usually they are high on a snag.

I checked the pond on Bucy and 1st and the one on Brushline south of FM 490.  There were lots of birds but nothing unusual.  So I headed north on Brushline, seeing the usual Scissor-tails and Lark Sparrows.  The only water was on the big pond just south of TX 186.  There were a few Fulvous-whistling Ducks, Blue-winged Teal, Mottled Ducks and Least Grebes.

Then this female Yellow-headed Blackbird caught my eye.

There was no shortage of Bronzed Cowbirds.

On the other side of the road is the lotus pond that last year harbored several Purple Gallinules.  No sign of them yet this year but this late American Bittern may have been the bird of the day.

From there I ran east on TX 186 to CR 20 which is just a couple of miles across the Willacy County line. The big pond on CR 20 has been good lately and with the cold front blowing in today it was fantastic!  It was covered with several hundred Wilson's Phalaropes while a soup of swallows swirled overhead.  The shore was lined with coots, ducks and shorebirds.  Best was my first Hudsonian Godwit for Willacy County.

A heavily spotted Spotted Sandpiper.

I studied a Calidris sandpiper that was larger than the nearby Least Sandpipers.  It had the elongated silhouette of a Baird's but the color was wrong.  The breast was streaked but not heavily enough for Pectoral and the legs looked black.  Finally it came to me.  My first White-rumped Sandpiper for the year.  I found more later on.

Bank, Barn, Cliff, Rough-winged and Tree Swallows zoomed past me taking advantage of the north wind which was blowing the insects into the leeward side of the row of trees along the road.

Here's the list from the CR 20 pond.

Willacy Co.--FM186 at CR20 area, Willacy, Texas, US
May 2, 2016 12:30 PM - 2:35 PM
Protocol: Traveling
0.1 mile(s)
40 species

Black-bellied Whistling-Duck 10
Fulvous Whistling-Duck 150
Gadwall 1
American Wigeon 10
Mottled Duck 40
Blue-winged Teal 20
Cinnamon Teal 1 Red male
Northern Shoveler 1
Northern Pintail 1
Redhead 1
Ruddy Duck 25
Least Grebe 4
Neotropic Cormorant 10
Snowy Egret 2
Green Heron 1
White Ibis 1
American Coot 200
Black-necked Stilt 8
American Avocet 8
American Golden-Plover 1
Killdeer 2
Spotted Sandpiper 2
Lesser Yellowlegs 2
Hudsonian Godwit 1
Stilt Sandpiper 50
Baird's Sandpiper 1
Least Sandpiper 100
White-rumped Sandpiper 16
Pectoral Sandpiper 1
Long-billed Dowitcher 15
Wilson's Phalarope 300
Common Ground-Dove 2
Mourning Dove 40
Northern Rough-winged Swallow 3
Tree Swallow 1
Bank Swallow 25
Barn Swallow 25
Cliff Swallow 1
Red-winged Blackbird 50
Great-tailed Grackle 20

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