Saturday, October 29, 2016

Northern Flicker at South Padre Island, 10/27/16

A high pressure system parked over west Texas, we've been getting northeasterly winds.  So I made a run out to South Padre Island to see what was going on.  There were reports of a Red-breasted Nuthatch at Sheepshead.  But I couldn't find it.  The "Red-shafted" Northern Flicker at the Convention Center was another story.  Back behind the building it brazenly pounded on dead tepehuaje branches and feasted on the ants that streamed out to defend their home.

We get a Norther Flicker just about every year on SPI but they are usually of the eastern "yellow-shafted" race.  I don't know if I've a "Red-shafted" in the Valley before.  Here's my try at a video.  Would be better with some editing.


Other stuff around the Convention Center was several Nashville and Tennessee Warblers.

And a rusty tailed Hermit Thrush

Back at Sheepshead a Cooper's Hawk perched in the tangled vegetation with some bloody remains in its talons.

Nearby a small flock with a couple of warblers, an Indigo Bunting and a Blue Grosbeak approached the water drip seemingly oblivious to the nearby accipiter.

Then overhead I heard a loud whistled "see-ooo".  The long staying Crimson-collared Grosbeak was vocalizing right above me and I could not find it to save my life.  Oh well.  Then I figured I would like to keep the grosbeak from being a second course to the Cooper's Hawk's meal.  So I hopped the fence and flushed the raptor.  He knows where the birds are and will probably be back but I did what I could to try to keep the Crimson-collared Grosbeak around for another week for the RGV Birding Festival.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

South Padre Island, 10/21/16

A cold front blew in last night and though it wasn't very cold, it had the wind howling out of the north.  So heading out to South Padre Island seemed like the logical (and fun) thing to do.  As I crossed over the causeway I assumed a tight flock of distant birds moving and bobbing with the wind would be Franklin's Gulls. Turned out I was right as I saw hundreds of them during the day.

My first destination was the Valley Land fund's Sheepshead lot.  Seemed really dead but a little judicious pishing pulled out a little flock of birds including this Chestnut-sided Warbler.  I see very few in winter plumage and wished I had gotten a better shot.

Other stuff included Orange-crowned, Magnolia and Nashville Warblers, American Redstart, Indigo Bunting and my first Lincoln's Sparrow and Yellow-rumped Warbler of the fall.

Moving up to the Convention Center I found the parking lot full of cars as some kind of a professional training session was going on but it didn't interfere with the birding.  People coming out of the building to smoke were annoying but what you gonna do?  I found it was easy to get shots but just hanging by the water feature.  Magnolia and Orange-crowned Warblers were first up.  Everyone was in a muted fall plumage.

And then a Yellow Warbler.

This Red-eyed Vireo scrutinized the water feature for quite a while but it may have searching for prey rather than thinking about a bath.

With the cold front I was hoping to find some rarity and my bird of the day finally popped in.  First it was just a glimpse and poor photos but eventually it came into the water feature.  My second Townsend's Warbler of the fall!  This one seems to be a young female.

Followed by my first Hermit Thrush of the fall.

And finally a late Yellow-billed Cuckoo.

Finished the day with twelve species of warblers and a few other later migrants.  Pretty good.

SPI Convention Center, Cameron, Texas, US
Oct 21, 2016 11:25 AM - 3:25 PM
Protocol: Traveling
0.5 mile(s)
Comments: includes boardwalk and flats
43 species

American White Pelican 8
Brown Pelican 10
Reddish Egret 2
White Ibis 1
Black-bellied Plover 15
Semipalmated Plover 15
Piping Plover 25
Killdeer 6
Marbled Godwit 30
Ruddy Turnstone 1
Sanderling 50
Dunlin 3
Western Sandpiper 10
Short-billed Dowitcher 25
Willet (Western) 30
Laughing Gull 100
Franklin's Gull 800
Caspian Tern 5
Royal Tern 200
Sandwich Tern 2
Black Skimmer 20
Eurasian Collared-Dove 2
Yellow-billed Cuckoo 1
Ruby-throated Hummingbird 1
Belted Kingfisher 1
Scissor-tailed Flycatcher 2
Red-eyed Vireo 1
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher 1
Ruby-crowned Kinglet 6
Hermit Thrush 1
Gray Catbird 2
Northern Mockingbird 1
Northern Waterthrush 1 in the mangroves
Orange-crowned Warbler 10 including eight in the mangroves
Nashville Warbler 2
Common Yellowthroat 1
Magnolia Warbler 2
Yellow Warbler (Northern) 1
Townsend's Warbler 1
Wilson's Warbler 1
Lincoln's Sparrow 2
Indigo Bunting 3
Great-tailed Grackle 5

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Northern Jacana at Santa Ana NWR, 10/18/16

Last winter was good for Northern Jacanas in the RGV and It looks like we're off to a good start for this winter with one present the past few days at Santa Ana NWR.  I decided I would try to get some photos this morning and got word from Raul in the visitor's center that it was still hanging around Pintail Lakes.  A few other birders were gathered when I arrived and after a bit of searching, there it was in the far east pond. After everyone had gotten sufficient views and left, I wandered back to the east side of the pond and waited a while.  And sure enough, the Northern Jacana popped out right in front of me.  I love those ultra long toes!

I lost it as walked behind some tall vegetation and I got distracted by other birds.  And then, there it was again on the log with the Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks.

Speaking of Black-bellied Whistling -Ducks, I counted 350 of them.

Pond #2, as it's called, had plenty of other stuff.  Like Black-necked Stilts, Long-billed Dowitchers and a couple of Roseate Spoonbills.

There's no confusing Least and Pied-billed Grebes when they're side by side.

Red eyes and facial skin mean these guys are the common White-faced Ibises.

A pretty Green Kingfisher.

I could not get a good angle on the young male Vermillion Flycatcher.

Here's the list from Pintail Lakes.

Black-bellied Whistling-Duck (fulgens) 350
Mottled Duck 10
Blue-winged Teal 3
Green-winged Teal (American) 1
Least Grebe 8
Pied-billed Grebe 4
Neotropic Cormorant 1
Great Blue Heron (Blue form) 1
Great Egret 1
Snowy Egret 1
Tricolored Heron 2
Yellow-crowned Night-Heron 2
White Ibis 1
White-faced Ibis 4
Roseate Spoonbill 3
Sora 1
Common Gallinule (American) 1
Black-necked Stilt (Black-necked) 71
American Avocet 2
Northern Jacana 1
Least Sandpiper 12
Long-billed Dowitcher 41
Greater Yellowlegs 6
White-winged Dove 2
Groove-billed Ani 2
Green Kingfisher 2
Ladder-backed Woodpecker 1
Vermilion Flycatcher 1
Great Kiskadee 3
Couch's Kingbird 1
White-eyed Vireo 1
Northern Rough-winged Swallow 1
Bank Swallow 1
Barn Swallow 120
Marsh Wren 3
Northern Mockingbird 1
Common Yellowthroat 2
Red-winged Blackbird 25
Great-tailed Grackle 80

Sunday, October 9, 2016

South Padre Island, 10/8/16

A cool front shifted the winds from the SE to the NE so I hoped that might bring a few things into South Padre Island.  Not much was going on at Sheepshead.  Just an Indigo Bunting, Common Yellowthroat and Wilson's and Black-and-white Warblers and this Nashville.

So I moved up north to the Convention Center.  It took me just a few minutes to find this young male Scarlet Tanager.

I tried to draw it in with some judicious pishing but no luck.  However a curious duo of an American Redstart and a Yellow Warbler perched right up in my face.

A Swainson's Thrush skulked around the water feature.

This young White Ibis was probing the grass for goodies behind the Convention Center.

A fall plumaged Indigo Bunting and a Blue Grosbeak were also back there.

This basic plumaged hummer has a pretty long bill, grayish crown and a long tail so I guess that makes it a Black-chinned Hummingbird.

A cooperative Ruby-crowned Kinglet at the water feature.

And an uncooperative Summer Tanager.

Well, nothing spectacular but it's always worth the effort to check out SPI.