Thursday, July 28, 2011

Long-billed or Short-billed Dowitchers? 7/28/11

After I posted on Texbirds that I had three dowitchers that I wasn't too sure about at the Sugar House Pond, I received an email from Justin Bosler stating that because of the date these might be Short-billed as they migrate earlier than Long-billed. I'm leaning towards Long-billed because of the feather edgings on the back but I may be misinterpreting this character. There were four of these birds were at the Sugar House Pond today.

I also photographed these three today at the Bucy Road Pond near Hargill. I also think they are Long-billed.

Red or Red-necked? 7/28/11

Two days ago I found this phalarope among 1500 Wilson's Phalaropes at the Sugar House Pond in eastern Hidalgo County. I originally thought Red-necked but now I'm not so sure. Bill seems a bit thick. Doesn't seem small enough for Red-necked. Posture doen's seem right. This little guy was about 150-200 yards away so forgive my photos.


Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Mexican Wedgetails at Frontera, 7/27/11

A few weeks ago Mike Rickard found some Mexican Wedgetails at Frontera Audubon Thicket in the long shady pool south of the maintenance shed. This morning I finally got out there to see them myself as I had only seen the species once before. It took a bit of effort and two tries but I eventually found the little buggers.

The name of this Mexican damsel comes from the wedge shaped tip of the abdomen.

Other shade-loving odes on this pool included Slough Amberwing and this Carmine Skimmer.

I figured it would be a good day for odes when the first thing I found was this Turquoise-tipped Darner near the entrance gate. Too bad it didn't hang around for a better pic.

Later I found this sharp looking Blue-faced Darner.

Some other damesels included this Blue-fronted Dancer.

Kiowa Dancer at the water feature.

And Blue-ringed Dancer.

It was also a good day for birds with my first Least Flycatcher and Black-and-white Warbler of the fall.

Black-bellied Whistling-Duck 10
Plain Chachalaca 10
Great Egret 1
Green Heron 3
Yellow-crowned Night-Heron 1
Gray Hawk 1
Solitary Sandpiper 1
Rock Pigeon 3
White-winged Dove 70
Inca Dove 1
White-tipped Dove 8
Chimney Swift 2
Buff-bellied Hummingbird 12
Ringed Kingfisher 1
Green Kingfisher 1
Golden-fronted Woodpecker 9
Ladder-backed Woodpecker 2
Northern Beardless-Tyrannulet 1
Least Flycatcher 1
Brown-crested Flycatcher 4
Great Kiskadee 3
Couch's Kingbird 2
White-eyed Vireo 4
Green Jay 1
Purple Martin 2
Black-crested Titmouse 1
Carolina Wren 4
Clay-colored Thrush 3
Northern Mockingbird 8
Long-billed Thrasher 1
Black-and-white Warbler 1
Olive Sparrow 1
Northern Cardinal 2
Great-tailed Grackle 12
Bronzed Cowbird 1
Orchard Oriole 10
Lesser Goldfinch 4
House Sparrow 3

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Big Bend, 7/20-21/11

I finally got up and out to Big Bend National Park for the first time this year. My logic was with all the drought and fires around in the Southwest, there might be some juicy stuff around looking for sanctuary. Turns out it's incredibly dry at Big Bend too. Dryest I've ever seen. Boot Springs was dry with only scattered black, scrummy rancid pools in the canyon above the spring.

My first stop after a hard day of driving up from the RGV was at Fort Pena Colorado County Park south of Marathon to look for odes. The stream that flows into the park was dry although the main pond is still full. Very few dragonflies around, just gliders and saddlebags. Damsels included this cute Mexican forktail.

And this Orange Bluet.

I camped out in the Basin as usual. It was extremely dry with few birds around, but scenic as always.

I did my nine mile Boot Springs hike with high hopes. Though enjoyable, birds were a bit scarce. I did manage a couple of Painted Redstarts, but for the first time I went Colima Warblerless. This redstart was at the shady area below the Pinnacles.

I aslo had a Blue-throated Hummingbird there, but no sign of Dusky-capped Flycatchers.

Birds seemed to be struggling to find anything to eat and in general looked pretty scruffy. This Hutton's Vireo looks particularly worn.

Mexican Jays begged for food all along the trail. I even had one eat trail mix out of my hand.

That evening I made a run down to Panther Junction to use the phone to call Honey. I was surprised to find my first Big Bend Crissal Thrasher in the lower part of Green Gulch. The next morning I found anouther foraging along the edges of Cottonwood Campground.

Also foraging along the edge was one of my favorite lizards, Cnemidophorus tesselatus, the Checkered Whiptail.

The uncommon campground specialties like Tropical Kingbird and Gray Hawk were no where to be found. However seedeating birds were attracted to the irrigated lawn and its seeding grass. I had at least ten Painted Buntings there.

This desert loving Black-throated sparrow was also taking advantage of the free food as was a Cassin's Sparrow and eight Pyrrhuloxias.

I then ran down to Santa Elena Canyon where the only ode species along the river were some crappy Powdered Dancers who don't deserve a photo. Desert birds like Verdins and Ash-throated Flycatcher were present along with more Painted Buntings, but nothing unusual.

A stop at Sam Nail Ranch turned up singing Bell's Vireos, Yellow-breasted Chats and this Varied Bunting.

Having had enough of the heat and few birds, I headed back home to pleasant south Texas summertime where it's also incredibly hot, but at least it's humid. Ugh!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Yellow-green Vireos at Sabal Palm, 7/16/11

This morning I headed down to Brownsville's Sabal Palm Sanctuary to tick Yellow-green Vireo for my year list and maybe get some photos. There was no sign of the Masked Ducks but a little effort got me some fair pics of the vireos. The male was singing his head off.

Not too much else going on. I think this is a Common Mellana. Things are slow when I'm taking pictures of skippers!

Black-bellied Whistling-Duck 2
Ruddy Duck 1
Plain Chachalaca 1
Least Grebe 6
Neotropic Cormorant 3
Great Egret 2
Snowy Egret 1
Green Heron 1
Black-crowned Night-Heron 3
White Ibis 3
Common Moorhen 11
American Coot 39
Solitary Sandpiper 1
Laughing Gull 1
Mourning Dove 6
Common Ground-Dove 2
White-tipped Dove 6
Yellow-billed Cuckoo 2
Groove-billed Ani 1
Buff-bellied Hummingbird 1
Golden-fronted Woodpecker 8
Ladder-backed Woodpecker 5
Brown-crested Flycatcher 6
Great Kiskadee 3
Couch's Kingbird 2
White-eyed Vireo 2
Yellow-green Vireo 2
Black-crested Titmouse 2
Carolina Wren 4
Northern Mockingbird 1
Long-billed Thrasher 2
Olive Sparrow 6
Northern Cardinal 3
Great-tailed Grackle 3
Bronzed Cowbird 1
Lesser Goldfinch 2

A week ago I checked out Sal del Rey to see what the recent rains had done. Looks like they had less rain to the north of us. I like this pic of the Snowy Plover on the ice. Ice in July in south Texas? No, that's not ice. It's salt precipitate along hypersaline Sal del Rey.

I found this probable Rambur's Forktail at the freshwater cienega. It looks too blue to me.

But segments 8-10 look right.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Missouri Odes

I spent a few weeks this summer in Fair Grove, Missouri to be with my father during his passing. After the memorial service I was able to get out and look at a few odes. A nearby gravelly, dolomite bottomed stream gave up some new bugs for me. Here's the magnificent Dragonhunter.

Another new Gomphid for me was the exquisite, diminutive Interior Least Clubtail.

This Cyrano Darner eating an American Rubyspot was also new for me.

Widow Skimmers were common.

A few miles away at the old Iron Bridge crossing of the Pom de Terre River I found my first Slaty Skimmer.

Stream Bluet was another new one.

As was Spring-water Dancer.

Lots of American Rubyspots around.

And everyone's favorite, the Ebony Jewelwing.