Sunday, October 20, 2013

Good Birds in the RGV, 10/20/13

The Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival ( ) is less than three weeks away and some good stuff is showing up in the Valley just in time.  This Golden-crowned Warbler has been present for the last week at Frontera Audubon Thicket in Weslaco.  It's been a little hard to find and really hard to photograph.

Also a week ago Tim Brush found this Painted Redstart at the UTPA campus in Edinburg.  I think everyone managed a better photo than the one I got.

And just a few days ago Marie Stewart and Rex and Birgit Stanford found some Red-necked Phalaropes at the Port Isabel Reservoir near Laguna Vista.  I managed to find them despite yesterday's howling winds.  With some effort I got some poor photos.

Add to this a couple of Zone-tailed Hawks at Frontera, Tropical Parulas at UTPA and Edinburg Scenic Wetlands and a Rufous-backed Robin (not yet refound) at Hidalgo Pumphouse and things are shaping up for a great festival.

Friday, October 4, 2013

South Padre Island, 10/3/13

Yesterday I ran out to South Padre Island to see if I could find the Prairie Warbler at the convention center and to check out the beach.  I ran into Bill and Dottie and Bill quickly spotted the Prairie Warbler.  Turns out I had seen one in the spring so it wasn't even a year bird.

There was also the most photogenic Olive-sided Flycatcher I've ever seen.  Usually they are way up on a dead snag.  This one was at eye level over the water feather.

There were a few other warblers and empids but nothing great so I headed out to the beach to look for Red Knots.  I saw a few scattered ones and a flock of 22 so it was a good knot day.  This one was shot from the car and is sporting somebody's tag.

Driving along the beach often provides for good photo ops, like this American Oystercatcher.

And this Piping Plover who looks like he's worried about someone putting another band on his leg.  Gee, there must be a better way.

I'm trying to be artistic with this Snowy Plover photo.  Not sure if I succeeded but I like it.

I drove all the way up to the Port Mansfield cut, about 25 miles of beach.  Birds were way down in numbers compared to my last visit but the driving was much easier.  As I approached the cut bird numbers started to increase and there were thousands of terns and about a hundred shorebirds at the base of the jetty by the cut channel.  I got down on hands and knees (which doesn't work too great when you're covered with sunscreen) to sneek up on the shorebirds and got some pretty good photos like these Red Knots.

And this first year Sanderling.

His cousins are on the move!

Shorebird soup.

I tried not to flush the terns but they seemed to flush every few minutes where I was near them or not.  The large feeding flock consisted of Sandwich, Common and Black Terns with just a few Forster's.

Common Tern is usually not very common on SPI but there were hundreds of them feeding offshore.  They will probably move south with the next coldfront.

So where are the cows?

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Tropical Parula at Edinburg Scenic Wetlands, 10/2/13

This morning I ran up to the Edinburg Scenic Wetlands to look for John Brush's Tropical Parula.  It only took me a few minutes and the bird wa very cooperative.  This is my first Tropical Parula for the Valley this year and my best photos ever.

From there I decided to go down to McAllen and visit Quinta Mazatlan to look for two more of John's birds, American Robin and Blue Jay.  These common eastern birds are very uncommon, especially the jay, in the Valley.  Well. I spent three hours and couldn't find either one.  But there were other things to photograph like this Philadelphia Vireo.

When I first saw this vireo, I saw yellow undertail coverts and thought about Yellow-green Vireo, but the sides aren't yellow enough and the bill is too small and too dark.  So it's just a Red-eyed Vireo.

This Summer Tanager was enjoying the sprinkler.

And this Great Kiskadee was sporting a fancy hairdo.

This has been the summer for Ruddy Daggerwings.  These two were in a flowering Coma along with a Red-bordered Pixie.

The little pond at Quinta Mazatlan holds what may be the easiest to observe population of Caribbean Yellowfaces anywhere in the country.

So it was a nice morning getting to visit two city parks, that I don't get to often enough.