Wednesday, November 18, 2015

South Padre Island, 11/18/15

Honey had to do some trauma training in San Benito today so I dropped her off and spent the day at South Padre Island.  This Pine Siskin feeding alone behind the Convention Center was a nice surprise and Cameron County bird #388 for me.

On my last several trips out to the Island, I have been hoping for some sparrows but not finding any.  There were a few today including my first Field Sparrow for the year.  It's been a couple of years since we've had any down here.

This Clay-colored Sparrow spent the afternoon with a flock of Indigo Buntings.

Lincoln's Sparrow is one of our commonest.

A couple of Pyrrhuloxias are still hanging around.

It's getting late for Blue Grosbeaks and Rose-breasted Grosbeaks.

There were still a few warblers around including this hungry Black-throated Green Warbler.

And this western Audubon's Yellow-rumped Warbler.

There was not too much going on at Sheepshead except for some Gray Catbirds and this uncooperative Philadelphia Vireo.

This boldly marked young opossum had me wondering if it might be have some tropical relatives.  

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Frontera Audubon Thicket, 11/15/15

It was a nice pleasant morning at the Frontera Audubon Thicket in Weslaco.  A walk around the orange grove turned up a couple of Clay-colored Thrushes feeding in an Anaqua.  Inside the Thicket I saw a bunch more.  I'm not sure if these are all local birds.  They could be from Mexico as were the two Dusky-capped Flycatchers seen last week at Anzalduas and Estero.

Nearby was a Hermit Thrush.  They are showing up everywhere this fall.

Warblers were not too exciting.  A few Orange-crowns, Black-and-whites and Wilson's was all I could muster.

I always count any bird for Frontera that I can see from Frontera.  This Vermillion Flycatcher was way over in the cemetery but it still counts.  Seems like there's a lot of them in the Valley right now.

I don't see Red-tailed Hawk very often over Frontera.

But I often see the local Gray Hawks.

I'll close with some action at the feeding stations.

Black-bellied Whistling-Duck 16
Plain Chachalaca  8
Great Egret  1
Snowy Egret  1
Turkey Vulture 25
Gray Hawk  1
Red-tailed Hawk  1
Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon)  2
Inca Dove 6
White-tipped Dove  6
Ruby-throated Hummingbird  1
Buff-bellied Hummingbird 2
Belted Kingfisher  1
Golden-fronted Woodpecker  6
Eastern Phoebe 1
Vermilion Flycatcher  1
Great Kiskadee  2
Loggerhead Shrike  1
Vireo  2
Green Jay  3
Black-crested Titmouse  4
House Wren  1
Carolina Wren 2
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher  2
Hermit Thrush  2
Clay-colored Thrush  10
Catbird  2
Curve-billed Thrasher  1
Long-billed Thrasher  4
Northern Mockingbird  8
Black-and-white Warbler  2
Orange-crowned Warbler  6
Warbler  2
Summer Tanager  1
Northern Cardinal  4
Red-winged Blackbird 30
Great-tailed Grackle  15
House Sparrow  1

Friday, November 13, 2015

South Padre Island, 11/13/15

Here we are in mid-November with a cold front blowing through so I headed out to South Padre Island to see if I could find any unusual sparrows.  Well, my instincts were dead wrong and I found no sparrows at all. But there were plenty of birds including nine species of warblers.  This young male Black-throated Green Warbler will get prettier as the winter passes.

It's getting pretty late for a Magnolia Warbler.

I have a difficult time getting photos of American Redstart.  They are so hyper!

A few Northern Waterthushes winter in area wetlands, particularly in the mangroves.  This one was at Sheepshead.

This seems to be a good year for Hermit Thrushes.

A Wood Thrush has also been hanging around the Convention Center for the past week.

This Rose-breasted Grosbeak is a lttle bit late.  A few usually winter in the Valley.

I drove out on the mudflats to get a better look at the shorebirds, gulls and terns.  This gull had me going for a while.  It was just a little bigger than the Laughing Gulls and very boldly marked.  The bill seemed too large for a Mew Gull and the bird seemed too small for a California so I knew it had to be a Ring-billed Gull. Turns out to be a juvenile plumage that I've never noticed before down here.  It was a good learning experience.

Franklin's Gulls are still passing through.  I used to think it ws difficult to separate them from Laughing Gulls in winter plumage.  Seems pretty easy now.

There were lots of shorebirds on the flats but with the cloudy conditions my photos are not too great so we're going to skip them.  Back at Sheepshead I got a glimpse of a distant Tennessee Warbler.  They often have faint wing bars that can confuse even experienced birders.

List from the Convention Center

Mottled Duck  10
Blue-winged Teal  4
Northern Pintail 10
Redhead  10
Pied-billed Grebe  1
Double-crested Cormorant  3
White Pelican  50
Brown Pelican  60
Little Blue Heron  1
Tricolored Heron 1
Reddish Egret  1
Roseate Spoonbill  8
Osprey  1
Common Gallinule 1
Black-necked Stilt  6
Black-bellied Plover  10
Snowy Plover 3
Semipalmated Plover  7
Piping Plover  27
Willet (Western)  15
Godwit  9
Ruddy Turnstone  15
Sanderling  20
Dunlin  100
Least Sandpiper 3
Western Sandpiper  30
Short-billed Dowitcher  12
Laughing Gull 400
Franklin's Gull  100
Ring-billed Gull  3
Herring Gull (American)  1
Caspian Tern  20
Forster's Tern 20
Royal Tern  150
Sandwich Tern  15
Black Skimmer  6
Eurasian Collared-Dove 10
White-winged Dove  1
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker  1
Eastern Phoebe 1
White-eyed Vireo  1
Blue-headed Vireo  1
Ruby-crowned Kinglet  2
Thrush  1
Wood Thrush  1
Gray Catbird  10
Long-billed Thrasher  1
Mockingbird  1
Orange-crowned Warbler  1
Common Yellowthroat  1
Redstart  1
Magnolia Warbler  1
Yellow-rumped Warbler (Audubon's) 2
Black-throated Green Warbler  3
Wilson's Warbler  1
Northern Cardinal 1
Rose-breasted Grosbeak  1
Indigo Bunting  8
Red-winged Blackbird 20
Great-tailed Grackle  2

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Good Stuff in the RGV, 11/10/15

The RGV Birding Festival ended a couple of days ago and the field trips really turned up a lot of unusual birds across the Rio Grande Valley.  This Greater Pewee was found a couple of days before the Festival at Anzalduas County Park and was a real hit.  It's the third I've seen in the Valley.  Also seen during the Festival at Anzalduas were Hooked-billed Kites, Zone-tailed Hawk and Dusky-capped Flycatcher.  I may try for the kites tomorrow.

A Blue-throated Hummingbird was found in the parking lot at Estero Llano Grande State Park.  The field trip I co-led with Jon Dunn got to see it .  Later in the Tropical Zone Jon was pointing out birds to the group and I saw a flash of rufous, brown and yellow.  I shouted out "Myiarchus!"  The bird perched in front of us and Jon made the call "Dusky-capped Flycatcher" before I could get the words out.  Unfortunately I wasn't carrying my camera.

The next day a Whooping Crane was found with a flock of Sandhills near Laguna Atascosa NWR.  I raced over after my field trip and managed the poorest of photos from a quarter mile or more away.  It was the first I have seen in the Valley.

Huck Hutchens and I lead a couple of trips up to Brushline Road and Sal del Rey where we found a single Red-necked Phalarope with fifteen Wilson's Phalaropes.  Two Say's Phoebes were later seen at Hargill but the Collared Plover seems gone for the year.  Again no photos.  

At the same time the group at Sabal Palm Sanctuary had a singing "Western" type flycatcher which from the spectrograph of the song seems to be the first Texas record of Pacific-slope Flycatcher.  The old Western Flycatcher was split in 1989 into the Cordilleran Flycatcher of the Rocky Mountains and the Pacific-slope Flycatcher of the West Coast based on differences in their songs.  I ran over there this morning and with David Benn's help got to see it.  What a cooperative bird!  I found one nearly twenty years ago south of Santa Maria that was probably this species.

So the cavalcade (I like that word) of rarities continues.  What's next?