Monday, September 30, 2013

Frontera Audubon Thicket, 9/30/13

I checked out Frontera audubon Thicket in Weslaco this morning.  I had not been in since the most recent rains and the thicket was looking great.  I found a couple of Northern Beardless-Tyrannulets.

Green Kingfishers were on the long narrow pond.

Overhead migrant Broad-winged Hawks rose up on thermals and then headed south.

Among the eight species of warblers was this basic plumaged Magnolia Warbler.

The Thicket is full of blooming Turk's cap which is a favorite of the Buff-bellied Hummingbird.

Plain Chachalaca  10
Great Egret  1
Yellow-crowned Night-Heron  3
Turkey Vulture  2
Broad-winged Hawk  75
Gray Hawk  1
White-winged Dove  25
Inca Dove  6
White-tipped Dove  4
Yellow-billed Cuckoo  1
Buff-bellied Hummingbird  10
Green Kingfisher  2
Golden-fronted Woodpecker  2
Northern Beardless-Tyrannulet  1
Yellow-bellied Flycatcher  1
Great Crested Flycatcher  1
Couch's Kingbird  1
White-eyed Vireo  7
Warbling Vireo  2
Green Jay  1
Black-crested Titmouse  2
Carolina Wren  2
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher  1
Clay-colored Thrush  1
Long-billed Thrasher  2
Northern Mockingbird  2
Ovenbird  2
Black-and-white Warbler  3
Nashville Warbler  2
Mourning Warbler  1
Magnolia Warbler  2
Yellow Warbler  1
Black-throated Green Warbler  1
Wilson's Warbler  3
Great-tailed Grackle  1
Lesser Goldfinch  10

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Big Bend National Park, 9/26/13

Late Tuesday afternoon a researcher from Mexico identified a Crescent-chested Warbler on the Pinnacles Trail at Big Bend National Park.  There is only one previous unphotographed report of this species for the state.  I had the good fortune to find the third ABA record back in 1992 in Patagonia Arizona which is my second best all time find.  Well I didn't get word about it till 1:30 PM on Wed. and I was on the road an hour later.  Spent the night in Sanderson (only $25.95!) and was at the trail head by 8:40 Thursday morning.  The bird had been sighted near the shady area with a few maple trees below the Pinnacles and Matt and Heidi from Marathon were already there when I arrived.  Well, we couldn't find the bird, but is was still a very nice day on the mountain.  Best bird for me was this Lucifer Hummingbird which I think may be a young male..

A couple of Hutton's Vireos came in close while I was pishing.  They superficially look like a Ruby-crowned Kinglet but are a little chunkier with a heavier bill.

The Crescent-chested Warbler had been seen in association with a few Townsend's Warblers.  But the few Townsend'ses I saw were not accompanied by their southern cousin.  This one was wrestling a big caterpillar.

I saw several Empidonax flycatchers.  Based on bill size and primary extension, this is a Hammond's Flycatcher.

It was so nice to get out of the heat and humidity of the Valley and enjoy some fall weather.  The few maples were really putting on a show.

There's a little grove of aspen which are the southernmost in the USA.  They were just starting to change.

I was really expecting some interesting butterflies as the summer monsoon has been pretty good this year, producing lots of wildflowers.  But other than lots of beautiful California Sisters, there wasn't too much around.

This big hairy tarantula crossed my path on the way down.

On the hike up I was lucky to see this Texas Alligator Lizard but I was unable to get a decent photo.

After the good eight mile hike, I decided I was done with Big Bend for this time and headed up to spend the night in Alpine.  The next morning I checked out Lake Balmorhea where I found a couple of Common Terns which are very uncommon in west Texas.  Unfortunately they were too far for a photo so here's one of a Western Grebe.

I have not heard of anyone else making the trip to look for the Crescent-chested Warbler.  I bet it's still up there. Should I try again?

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

16 Warbler Species at Frontera Audubon Thicket, 9/18/13

This morning was warm, humid, drippy, muddy and very warblery at Fronera Audubon Thicket in Weslaco.  The day started very slowly but by noon I had sixteen warbler species, a pretty good total for fall migration.  However the best birds were a couple of Yellow-throated Vireos.

I've been chasing butterflies a lot lately so my warbler photography was a bit off today.  They are so much more difficult to capture than butterflies.  Here's a few not so great pics.  As always the more common species like Wilson's Warbler always prove the most photogenic.

While the skulkers tend to be real teasers like this Kentucky Warbler.

And this Worm-eating Warbler.

I enjoy the plumage of fall Chestnut-sided Warblers.  I don't see too many.  I was a bit late on the draw with this pic.

This Blue-winged Warbler photo is a bit off too.

Here's today's list.

Frontera Audubon Center, Hidalgo, US-TX
Sep 18, 2013 8:30 AM - 12:20 PM
Protocol: Traveling
1.0 mile(s)
55 species (+1 other taxa)

Plain Chachalaca  12
Green Heron  5
Turkey Vulture  1
Gray Hawk  1
Rock Pigeon  4
White-winged Dove  50
Mourning Dove  2
Inca Dove  5
White-tipped Dove  6
Common Pauraque  1
Chimney Swift  3
Ruby-throated Hummingbird  5
Buff-bellied Hummingbird  12
Green Kingfisher  2
Golden-fronted Woodpecker  8
Ladder-backed Woodpecker  1
Green Parakeet  6
Eastern Wood-Pewee  1
Yellow-bellied Flycatcher  2
Alder Flycatcher  1
Empidonax sp.  1
Great Kiskadee  2
Couch's Kingbird  4
White-eyed Vireo  3
Yellow-throated Vireo  2
Red-eyed Vireo  2
Green Jay  1
Black-crested Titmouse  2
Carolina Wren  3
Clay-colored Thrush  1
Curve-billed Thrasher  1
Long-billed Thrasher  3
Northern Mockingbird  6
Worm-eating Warbler  2
Northern Waterthrush  2
Blue-winged Warbler  1
Black-and-white Warbler  6
Tennessee Warbler  2
Kentucky Warbler  6
Hooded Warbler  3
American Redstart  3
Northern Parula  1
Yellow Warbler  8
Chestnut-sided Warbler  1
Yellow-throated Warbler  2
Black-throated Green Warbler  1
Canada Warbler  3
Wilson's Warbler  2
Yellow-breasted Chat  6
Olive Sparrow  2
Summer Tanager  3
Northern Cardinal  3
Great-tailed Grackle  2
Baltimore Oriole  2
Lesser Goldfinch  4
House Sparrow  4


Saturday, September 7, 2013

A couple of good Hidalgo County birds, 9/2/13

Last Sunday Mary Gustafson called me to say she had just found some good stuff while checking out the area wet spots north of Weslaco.  So I got out the next morning and saw the Ruddy Turnstone at the Sugar House pond.  It was my second ever for the county.

Over at Delta Lake, I ran into Mary who had just seen a Common Tern fly by.  I had never seen this coastal species in the county before.  A few minutes of waiting produced my 379th Hidalgo County species.

This is a bit of a tough ID when the bird is in flight as a moltling Forster's Tern can have a similar head pattern with a black nape.  The dark outer rectrices and dark edged primaries say Common Tern.  The next photo barely shows the dark carpal bar which is easy to see on a resting bird.