Sunday, January 4, 2015

Strange peep at Sal del Ray, 1/3/15

Yesterday was the first time in a while that the weather was good enough to get out and look for some birds and it gave me an opportunity to try out my new Canon 7D Mark II.  So I headed up to the Sal del Rey Unit of the Lower Rio Grande NWR to get some birds for the new county year list.  As it turned out, the new camera got a good workout.  Bird of the day was a strange Calidris sandpiper that stuck out like a sore thumb among the Least Sandpipers and Snowy Plovers on the salty shoreline.  I got pretty excited as it was the size of the Least Sandpipers but was gray with black legs and a short bill.  It looked exactly like the Red-necked Stints I saw in the Philippines back in Sept.  So I got some photos and the bird fortunately cooperated a bit.  As I'm thinking it may be a major find, I decided to head for home so I could check out my pics and look at some images on line.  Talking to Mary Gustafson via phone on the way home she brought up the possibility of Little Stint which would be a first state record.  So I was really excited and downloaded my photos as soon as I got home and got them online.  Well, as it turns out, the people who know think my peep is actually a basic plumaged Semipalmated Sandpiper which should be in South America this time of year.  Other than a sick bird found in Bexar County on Dec. 2 years ago, this would be the first winter record for a Semipalmated Sandpiper in Texas.  Pretty cool.  Just not a cool as what I had hoped for.  Here are some photos.  Their poor quality is due to poor light and the photographer and not the camera

As expected Snowy Plovers made an appearance, twelve of them.

And the 185 Wilson's Phalaropes may be a new winter record.  Here's a poor digiscoped shot of a few of them.

Another good bird was this distant Ash-throated Flycatcher.  They are pretty uncommon during winter.

On the drive up to the refuge, I stopped at Delta Lake at my Yellow Warbler spot to see if any had stayed for the winter.  Sure enough, a little pishing brought up two of them.  One was a real dullard.

So it turned out to be a really interesting day.  Here's the list from Sal del Rey.

LRGV NWR--La Sal del Rey (LTC 005), Hidalgo, US-TX
Jan 3, 2015 9:35 AM - 12:10 PM
Protocol: Traveling
1.5 mile(s)
39 species

American Wigeon  8
Eared Grebe  250     continuing flock, counted and estimated
Black Vulture  2
Turkey Vulture  8
Cooper's Hawk  1
Harris's Hawk  1
Red-shouldered Hawk  1
Red-tailed Hawk  2
Snowy Plover  12
Killdeer  1
Greater Yellowlegs  3
Lesser Yellowlegs  32
Least Sandpiper  100
Semipalmated Sandpiper  1
Western Sandpiper  4
Wilson's Phalarope  185
Laughing Gull  12
Ring-billed Gull  17
Mourning Dove  1
Golden-fronted Woodpecker  5
Ladder-backed Woodpecker  3
Eastern Phoebe  1
Ash-throated Flycatcher  1
Great Kiskadee  1
House Wren  2
Bewick's Wren  1
Cactus Wren  2
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher  3
Ruby-crowned Kinglet  3
Curve-billed Thrasher  1
Northern Mockingbird  4
American Pipit  5
Orange-crowned Warbler  5
Yellow-rumped Warbler  6
Savannah Sparrow  10
Lincoln's Sparrow  3
Northern Cardinal  4
Pyrrhuloxia  2
Eastern Meadowlark  6

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