Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Santa Ana NWR, 12/16/14

I ran over to Santa Ana NWR this morning to pick up my packet for this weekend's CBC and since it was such a pleasant morning I spent four hours on the trail around Willow and Pintail Lakes.  I saw this Fulvous Whistling-Duck on Willow Lake for only a few seconds and could never find it again.

Here's a nice pair of Mottled Ducks.  The buffy face rules out the similar "Mexican" Mallard.

And a pair of Northern Pintails.

Willow Lake currently has plenty of water and was as birdy as I've seen it in years.  A pair of Green Kingfishers zoomed up and down as I checked the lake from several overlooks.  There may have been more than just a pair.

I frequently get close to green Kingfishers or I should say they get close to me, but they always place themselves so that I can't get a clear shot with the camera.

With cloudy weather this morning it was difficult to get enough shutter speed for good photos.  I found a nice passerine flock with a friendly Ruby-crowned Kinglet, but this was the only non-blurry photo I could get. There's no mistaking the identity even from the rear.

A Black-crested Titmouse was far more cooperative.

Pintail Lakes was another story as most of them were drained as the refuge is putting in some new irrigation pipes.  A pair of White-tailed Kites patrolled the grassy lake bed.

One of the smaller ponds held water and a nice flock of 35 Black-necked Stilts.  They flushed as I approached but came right back down.

Here's my list for the day.

Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge, Hidalgo, US-TX
Dec 16, 2014 8:20 AM - 12:20 PM
Protocol: Traveling
2.0 mile(s)
Comments:     Willow and Pintail Lakes and trails
60 species

Fulvous Whistling-Duck  1
Greater White-fronted Goose  20
Gadwall  10
American Wigeon  3
Mottled Duck  3
Blue-winged Teal  100
Cinnamon Teal  2
Northern Shoveler  40
Northern Pintail  15
Green-winged Teal  20
Ruddy Duck  5
Plain Chachalaca  4
Least Grebe  3
Pied-billed Grebe  4
Great Egret  2
White-faced Ibis  8
Turkey Vulture  1
White-tailed Kite  2
Red-shouldered Hawk  1
Red-tailed Hawk  1
Sora  3
Common Gallinule  4
American Coot  50
Black-necked Stilt  35
Spotted Sandpiper  1
Greater Yellowlegs  2
Least Sandpiper  5
Wilson's Snipe  5
Inca Dove  4
White-tipped Dove  8
Mourning Dove  1
Belted Kingfisher  1
Green Kingfisher  3
Golden-fronted Woodpecker  3
Ladder-backed Woodpecker  4
Least Flycatcher  1
Eastern Phoebe  6
Great Kiskadee  8
Couch's Kingbird  2
White-eyed Vireo  4
Blue-headed Vireo  1
Green Jay  5
Black-crested Titmouse  6
House Wren  3
Carolina Wren  3
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher  6
Ruby-crowned Kinglet  4
Long-billed Thrasher  2
Northern Mockingbird  3
European Starling  23
American Pipit  8
Orange-crowned Warbler  5
Nashville Warbler  4
Common Yellowthroat  12
Yellow-rumped Warbler  10
Lincoln's Sparrow  3
Red-winged Blackbird  60
Great-tailed Grackle  2
Altamira Oriole  3
House Sparrow  5

Thursday, December 11, 2014

South Padre Island, 12/10/14

I got some new tires on the 4X4 so I thought it would be a good time to head out to South Padre Island and make a run up the beach.  First stop was Sheepshead and despite some very birdy looking habitat after all the rain, all I managed to find was a Gray Catbird and a Hermit Thrush.  The Convention Center was not a whole lot more productive, but there was a nice winter plumaged female Rose-breasted Grosbeak feeding on the corky-stemmed passionflower fruit.

There were plenty of shorebirds on the mudflats including 25 Piping Plovers but nothing really interesting so I headed up to Access #6 and the beach.  Again there was nothing too great.  Only the normal three species of gulls and some terns, but not even a Sandwich or a Common.  So I made do with the multitudes of Sanderlings.  I counted 1342 of 'em during the 14.5 miles to the Willacy County line.

I did manage to scrape up a couple of Red Knots.

Here's a very stylish Laughing Gull.  I'm not sure what this genetic condition is called.

There were an unusually high number of Double-crested Cormorants on the beach.  I think they're late migrants.

So by the time I got twenty miles north, I decided I'd better head for home as the tide was rising.  I'll return in a few weeks and check the area again.