Friday, April 2, 2021

1st Lesser Yellowlegs at Progreso Lakes, 4/2/21

There are still quite a few regular migrant passerines I have yet to see in our Progreso Lakes yard.  Yesterday five of them, all warblers, were seen at Estero Llano Grande State Park which is only five miles away.  Birders there managed to find Louisiana Waterthrush and Blue-winged, Kentucky, Worm-eating and Prothonotary Warblers.  So today I thought this is the time to stay put in the yard and let them come to me.  So I waited while good birds were being reported at Estero and out on South Padre Isand and I waited and I waited.......and not much happened except for the regular yard birds coming into the feeding area.  And then I caught sight of a flock of five slim medium sized shorebirds hurtling over the resaca.  I got the camera on them and coaxed it into focusing on them before they disappeared behind the big ash.  I was surprised I actually got three images and even more suprised to see they were my longtime nemesis yard birds, Lesser Yellowlegs.  Lesser Yellowlegs are among the most common migrant and wintering shorebirds in the RGV and somehow I had managed to not see any during the more than four years we've lived at Progreso Lakes.  The photos are not great but the combination of yellow legs extending beyond the tail, the barred tail with white rump and the medium length bill leave no doubt.  Lesser Yellowlegs in the 238th species for our yard.

I saw a small passerine perform a belly splash in our bird bath I suspected it was a vireo.  Turned out to be a Blue-headed Vireo.

Five hours of watching for warblers only turned up a Nashville, an Orange-crowned and three Myrtle Warblers.  And there were precious few migrant raptors.  I was about to call it quits when an afternoon Turkey Vulture drifted over the opposite bank of the resaca.  But something was different about its posture.  It flew with it's head down instead of out at an angle like a normal TV.  As it came closer I could see the yellow cere.  I had my first Zone-tailed Hawk for the year.  The finely barred tail indicates it is an immature bird.  Adults have broad black and white bars.

Well I didn't get any of my warblers but it was still a good day.Tomorrow the wind picks up so I'll probably get some yard work done but I'll keep my eyes open.

Saturday, March 20, 2021

New Birds at Progreso Lakes, 3/20/21

After a cold front blew out all the nasty, hot, humid air, the pasty couple of days have been delightful with cool sunny mornings and low humidity.  Yesterday I was watching swallows from the front yard looking for my first Cliff Swallow of the Spring.  It didn't take long before I found several with the migrating Tree and Barn Swallows.

Then I noticed a sparrow on the electric wire.  A quick look through the binocs told me it was a Savannah Sparrow.  I usually get very distant views from our yard so I decided to pish it in closer.  It obliged and landed near a seeding dandelion just at the edge of the cotton field across the lane.  I snapped a few photos and was shocked by what I saw on the back of the camera.  It was a Vesper Sparrow!  How did I manage that?  Well I then noticed there were three sparrows and yes two of them were Savannahs but the third was the first Vesper Sparrow for our yard.  Vesper Sparrows are not easy to find in the Valley.  Usually I get them up on Brushline Road or on Mile 7 north of La Joya.  So yard bird #236 was an unexpected treat.

Besides the swallows, I was also watching for migrating hawks.  As the morning warmed a few Turkey Vultures started looking for thermals.  I wound up with 350 for the day.  All but twenty of them were after noon.

Then among the kettling vultures I picked up my first Swainson's Hawk for the year.  I saw several more during the afternoon.

Then I got my first Broad-winged Hawk for the year.

Yesterday was a pretty good day and I was hoping today would be the same.  Things got off to a good start as I ate breakfast and noticed a warbler in the tree over the driveway.  It was a stunning male Black-and-white Warbler getting a bite to eat before continuing his journey north.

I spent some time in the front yard waiting for migrant raptors but not much was going on today so I moved to the back porch to watch my feeding area.  I put out an orange and some seed and things got busy.  I've had five or so Lincln's Sparrows all winter but today was different.  It seemed like there were more so I glassed over the brush patch and feeding area and twice came up with a count of thirteen!  Our previous high had been just seven.  Apparently these guys are headed north too.

I was running some water on our coral beean tree which really took a beating during the freeze.  The water attracted the first Clay-colored Thrush I've seen in weeks.

American Goldfinches were hitting the sunflower feeder.

A Lesser Goldfinch came into where I was watering the coral bean.  It showed no interest in the feeder.

Then I decided to take a walk around the yard.  I was approaching my frozen dead exotic garden area when a flock of goldfinches flew up from a seeding dandelion.  There was another Lesser and several Americans.  And a little streaked guy!  The first Pine Siskin for our yard!  There's been a lot of Pine Siskins around the Rio Grande Valley this winter so I figured we would get one some time.  I retreated to the porch and it didn't take long for the Pine Siskin to find the feeder.  Yard bird #237.

Here's today's list.

Jones yard, Progreso Lakes, Hidalgo, Texas, US
Mar 20, 2021 8:10 AM - 1:10 PM
Protocol: Stationary
57 species (+3 other taxa)

Black-bellied Whistling-Duck (fulgens)  2000
Muscovy Duck (Domestic type)  3
Eurasian Collared-Dove  1
Inca Dove  2
White-tipped Dove  1
White-winged Dove  1
Mourning Dove  6
Ruby-throated Hummingbird  1
Buff-bellied Hummingbird (Northern)  1
American Coot (Red-shielded)  3
Black-necked Stilt (Black-necked)  1
Neotropic Cormorant  12
Double-crested Cormorant  1
American White Pelican  1
Great Blue Heron (Blue form)  2
Great Egret (American)  1
Snowy Egret  1
Green Heron  1
Black-crowned Night-Heron  5
Black Vulture  23
Cooper's Hawk  1
Harris's Hawk  2
Broad-winged Hawk  1
Swainson's Hawk  1
Red-tailed Hawk  1
Ringed Kingfisher  1
Belted Kingfisher  1
Golden-fronted Woodpecker (Northern)  2
Ladder-backed Woodpecker  2
American Kestrel  1
Black Phoebe  1
Eastern Phoebe  1
Great Kiskadee  2
Couch's Kingbird  1
Tropical/Couch's Kingbird  2
Tree Swallow  25
Barn Swallow (American)  3
Cliff Swallow (pyrrhonota Group)  8
Carolina Wren (Northeast Mexico/South Texas)  1
European Starling  2
Long-billed Thrasher  2
Northern Mockingbird  2
Clay-colored Thrush  1
House Sparrow  6
Pine Siskin  1
Lesser Goldfinch  3
American Goldfinch  12
Olive Sparrow  1
Lincoln's Sparrow  13    glassed the feeding area and got this count twice
Western/Eastern Meadowlark  1
Hooded Oriole (cucullatus/sennetti)  3
Altamira Oriole  1
Red-winged Blackbird  1200
Bronzed Cowbird (Bronzed)  1
Brown-headed Cowbird  10
Great-tailed Grackle (Great-tailed)  5
Black-and-white Warbler  1
Orange-crowned Warbler  1
Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle)  5
Northern Cardinal  5