Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Chasing Hidalgo County Rarities, 1/21/15

The past few warm days have really been glorious after the cold wet winter we've been having and I've put them to good use getting my Hidalgo County year list off to a fine start.  I had a list of six species I wanted to find today and I wound up getting five of them so it was a good day.  Bird of the day goes to this Prairie Warbler found by J. D. Cortez yesterday at the Old Hidalgo Pumphouse.  Actually it was first found about a month ago and few people have gone to look for it.  Prairie Warbler is pretty rare in winter in the RGV, occurring once every few years.

My birding day started at Edinburg Scenic Wetlands where I wanted to knockoff the Winter Wren and Brown Thrasher.  I quickly found the Winter Wren skulking around the wooded pond but I was unable to get a shot of it.  The Brown Thrasher took a lot more work but eventually it popped up and perched for me at length but in such heavy brush it was hard to get a good photo.  They are really bright orange-brown and small billed compared to our common Long-billed Thrashers.

I'm really impressed with the photos I'm getting from my new camera and lens.  The Canon 7D Mark II combined with the new Canon 100-400 mm IS II lens cost a lot of money and weighs a ton but it sure spits out some nice images.  Here's a White-eyed Vireo.  I find with a little soft pishing they are really photogenic.

The ability to get a decent photo in poor light conditions sold me on the setup.  Here's a Common Ground-Dove in the shade that has been cropped quite a bit.

And a Curve-billed Thrasher carrying some nesting material.

After I found my two target species, I drove south to Roselawn Cemetery in McAllen, hoping the Western Tanager I had found on the CBC back in December might still be around.  It took me only a couple of minutes to find it but all I could muster was a distant shot.

My next stop was Quinta Mazatlan where I couldn't get the Tropical Parula to materialize.  Then it was off to the Old Hidalgo Pumphouse where one pish brought in a little flock with the Prairie Warbler.

Then I thought of one more stop where I might pick up an easy year bird.  I was off to the Progreso grain storage area where I hoped to get a Yellow-headed Blackbird.  Well, it took some work and it wasn't a pretty one, but it still counts.

So I picked up five new year birds for Hidalgo County, including three hard to get ones.  I think I'm at 168 now but I'm not sure.  Tomorrow there's one more warm morning before the next cold front.  What do I chase next?  Or maybe I should go out and find something rare on my own.

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