Saturday, March 15, 2014

Willacy County, 3/15/14

I ran over to Willacy County this morning to see if I could find something new for the county.  The day started foggy but the predicted wind wasn't as bad as forecast so it was a nice birding day.  I started on FM 1018 north of Harlingen where one of my first birds was this newly arrived Scissor-tailed Flycatcher.  I saw seven of them scattered around the county.

I scoured the ag fields hoping for grasspipers but none were seen.  I did get lucky with a couple of Sprague's Pipits that flushed along the highway and landed nearby.  Usually they fly very high and you have to run some distance to chase them down.

I spent quite a bit of time around the Willamar area looking for early migrant warblers.  I saw a couple of Northern Parulas and a Black-and-White but not the hoped for Louisiana Waterthrush.  Birds always respond well to pishing and pygmy owl calls in Willacy County.  I think there's just enough Ferruginous Pygmy Owls in the county that they get to hear one once in a while.  Here's an excited White-eyed Vireo.

And a Black-crested Titmouse.

I worked the area over pretty good and after noon I decided it was time to start heading back.  I returned west on FM 498 and failed to find too much interesting.  Just north of FM 498 on CR 315 is a large playa that had filled with water after the recent rains.  I detoured to check it out and got a couple of surprises.  First were three Snowy Plovers.  Two were together.  They could conceivably stay and nest on this salty playa.  Unfortunately my camera's mode had gotten bumped and I was shooting in T mode so my shots are a bit fuzzy.

Then a couple of larger, darker big nosed plovers turned out to be Wilson's Plovers.  This species usually nests on dry tidal flats along the coast however a few nest some distance inland in south Texas on salty playas.

So sometime this week I need to get up to Hargill and see if our Hidalgo County Wilson's Plovers are back to breed.  Here's my Willamar eBird list.

Gadwall  14
Blue-winged Teal  20
Cinnamon Teal  1
Northern Shoveler  20
Green-winged Teal  1
Ruddy Duck  2
Northern Bobwhite  1
Pied-billed Grebe  2
Great Blue Heron  2
Cattle Egret  5
White-faced Ibis  8
Black Vulture  8
Turkey Vulture  7
Northern Harrier  1
Harris's Hawk  2
White-tailed Hawk  1
Red-tailed Hawk  1
American Coot  10
Killdeer  6
Greater Yellowlegs  6
Lesser Yellowlegs  1
Eurasian Collared-Dove  30
Mourning Dove  60
White-tipped Dove  1
Golden-fronted Woodpecker  8
Ladder-backed Woodpecker  5
Crested Caracara  2
American Kestrel  2
Vermilion Flycatcher  2
Great Kiskadee  1
Couch's Kingbird  3
Scissor-tailed Flycatcher  2
Loggerhead Shrike  6
White-eyed Vireo  7
Blue-headed Vireo  1
Green Jay  2
Horned Lark  2
Black-crested Titmouse  3
Verdin  1
House Wren  2
Bewick's Wren  12
Cactus Wren  3
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher  1
Ruby-crowned Kinglet  4
Curve-billed Thrasher  1
Long-billed Thrasher  1
Northern Mockingbird  10
European Starling  15
Sprague's Pipit  2
Black-and-white Warbler  1
Orange-crowned Warbler  8
Common Yellowthroat  11
Northern Parula  1
Yellow-rumped Warbler  4
Olive Sparrow  2
Lark Sparrow  1
Savannah Sparrow  7
Lincoln's Sparrow  13
Swamp Sparrow  1
Northern Cardinal  6
Red-winged Blackbird  60
House Sparrow  14

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