Friday, February 26, 2016

McCook, 2/26/16

Two weeks ago Mary Gustafson found a few Mountain Plovers southwest of McCook near where they were seen last winter.  I ran out last week but could not find them so I made another try today after they were reported again yesterday.  42 of them were still there in a plowed field on the gas compressor road 1.8 miles south of FM 490.

One of them sported colored bands on the legs.  I could not read any numbers but still reported it the the USGS.  Hope I hear from the bander some day.  Mountain Plover is becoming a threatened species as their short grass prairie breeding gounds dwindle.

Last week I missed the Mountain Plovers but was happy to score the wintering Prairie Falcon.

Plenty of sparrows in the area including Lark Bunting which can be hard to find down here.

And Lark Sparrow,

And Vesper Sparrow.

I drove Jara China Road south looking for my three Hidalgo County nemesis desert birds; Scaled Quail, Chihuahuan Raven and Black-tailed Gnatcatcher.  I played some calls but nobody answered.  I'll try again some day.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Bentsen Rio Grande Valley State Park, 2/9/16

An Audubon's Oriole was found a few days ago at Bentsen Rio Grande Valley State Park. Though easy to see up at Salineno in Starr County and uncommon in the brush country north of the RGV, they are rare in Hidalgo and Cameron Counties.  It took a bit of waiting but the young Audubon's finally showed up at feeding station #10 in the Acacia Loop.  It was only the second one I have seen in Hidalgo County.

A White-throated Thrush has been reported from this feeding station also and at other locations in the park. All I could see was a friendly Clay-colored thrush.

Walking in from the parking lot I saw another uncommon in winter oriole, a male Hooded.  There's been a pair hanging around the visitor's center at Bentsen.

The Altimira Orioles were easy to see as usual.  The feeding stations at Bentsen is probably the best place to find one in the RGV.

By the parking lot a small flock of Lark Sparrows fed on the seemingly unpalatable grass burrs.

This Pyrrhuloxia looks a little out of place at a feeder with the more expected American Goldfinches.  This is a good winter for Pyrrhuloxias all across the Valley.

Normally Broad-winged Hawk is rare in the Valley but there seems to be one at most birding locations this winter.  This one was surveying the feeding station by the park entrance. 

Every feeding stations seemed to have a Lincoln's Sparrow or two sculking around the edges.

Here's the list for the morning.

Plain Chachalaca 20
Pied-billed Grebe 1
Black Vulture 18
Turkey Vulture 5
Cooper's Hawk 2
White-tailed Hawk 1
Gray Hawk 2
Red-shouldered Hawk 1
Broad-winged Hawk 1
Red-tailed Hawk 1
American Coot 2
Killdeer 5
Caspian Tern 1
Inca Dove 4
White-tipped Dove 4
Mourning Dove 15
Ringed Kingfisher 1
Golden-fronted Woodpecker 4
Crested Caracara 1
Eastern Phoebe 1
Vermilion Flycatcher 1
Great Kiskadee 30
White-eyed Vireo 1
Green Jay 25
Tree Swallow 5
Black-crested Titmouse 2
Verdin 2
House Wren 2
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher 1
Eastern Bluebird 2
Clay-colored Thrush 2
Long-billed Thrasher 2
Northern Mockingbird 2
Orange-crowned Warbler 2
Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle) 6
Chipping Sparrow 8
Lark Sparrow 4
Lincoln's Sparrow 5
Northern Cardinal 15
Pyrrhuloxia 1
Red-winged Blackbird 20
Western Meadowlark 1
Great-tailed Grackle 17
Hooded Oriole 1
Altamira Oriole 6
Audubon's Oriole 1
American Goldfinch 15

Sunday, February 7, 2016

A couple of good RGV birds, 2/7/15

The good birds just keep a coming in the Rio Grande Valley of south Texas.  We've been hosting a Crimson-collared Grosbeak at the Frontera Audubon thicket in Weslaco while Santa Ana NWR has had a Northern Jacana.  Now add to that a White-throated Thrush at Estero Llano Grande State Park.  Last year they also had one, but that one was really difficult to photograph.  This one, the seventh I've seen in the Valley, is pretty friendly as it feeds on brush holly berries.

Meanwhile Frontera has attracted a sharp male Blue Bunting.  It is proving hard to see and even tougher to photograph.

So what's up next?  I have a feeling we're not done yet.  I guess I'd better get out and start beating the bushes.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Looking for county year birds, 2/3/16

A pretty male Blue Bunting was found this past weekend at Frontera Audubon in Weslaco and I was going to look for it this morning, but there was a big wad of cars in the parking lot like yesterday so I said "T'ell with it."  Instead I ran over to the McAllen Nature Center to look for the wintering Spotted Towhee.  Ken Wilson was there doing the same thing.  It took a while but Ernesto  found it for us.

Well, that was good.  Could I get lucky and find the White-throated Sparrow at Quinta Mazatlan?  I raced over and got the report that it had been seen in several different spots over the past few weeks.  I searched a bit and thought maybe it would do like the towhees a few years ago and hang out by the feeding station by the amphitheater.  I didn't have to wait very long. Soon there it was scratching in the leaf litter in the shade just like I expected.

Well I was now two for two.  Why not got back to Frontera now that the day is already a success?  After arriving I head the Blue Bunting had been seen again.  I spent a couple of hours looking unsuccessfully but was happy to finally get the Black-headed Grosbeak for the year.

White waiting at one of the feeding stations and chatting with visiting birders, the Tropical Parula popped in for a viewing.

When I found this young Altimira Oriole nine days ago it was in the company of the Crimson-colored Grosbeak.  Today it was alone.  Someone saw the grosbeak this afternoon but I was in the wrong spot.

The morning started with this American Robin in our back yard.  I think it's only the second time we've had one.