Monday, September 25, 2017

Falcon State Park Butterfly Garden, 9/24/17

Yesterday I was going to go birding out on South Padre Island.  But as I left our road to Progreso Lakes and turned east on the Military Highway I decided I did not want to go east with the sun in my eyes.  So I headed west with the idea of checking out butterflies at Yturria Brush west of La Joya.  But it was extremely dry and fried after a very hot summer.  So I got back in the car and kept going west to Falcon State Park.  It was really dry out there too but the butterfly garden was being watered and full of blooms and butterflies.  And this brought in birds.

I saw this greenish thing fly low into a bush and I figured it would be an Mourning warbler.  Boy was I wrong!  It was a friendly Yellow-bellied Flycatcher who was hunting caterpillars.  I'm not sure how common they are this far west.

Also allowing close approach was this White-eyed Vireo who had it's own battle with a leaf-footed bug.

My last visit to Falcon was back in June and at the time the butterfly garden looked like it had not been watered in months.  I mentioned this at their office at the time and yesterday was glad to see the problem had been fixed.  They also had a couple of hummingbird feeders up that were getting a lot of business.  Though I've visited Starr County dozens of times this was my first county Black-chinned Hummingbird.

This Black-throated Green Warbler was also a county first for me.  During migration I tend to stay in Cameron and Hidalgo County.

A skulking Yellow-breasted Chat refused a good photo per usual.

A couple of quail zipped around the corner and gave me hope for a Scaled Quail.  But they proved to be the more expected Northern Bobwhite.

Inca and Common Ground-Doves flushed thoughout the morning.

Resident Northern Cardinal and Pyrrhuloxia are regular year around in the butterfly garden.

As are Olive Sparrows.

But butterflies were my focus.  Nothing too rare but there was plenty with my favorite being the big Brazilian Skippers with their super long proboscis.

The weather forecasters are waffling about a cold front coming down later in the week.  It's time for a major onslaught of birds!

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Sugar House Pond, 9/5/17

After Ron Weeks turned up Short-billed Dowitcher and Ruddy Turnstones at the Sugar House pond last weekend, I figured I had better get over to check things out.  I arrived to find broad mudflats all around the 40 acre impoundment and thousands of shorebirds.  Bird of the day goes to this Red-necked Phalarope.  At first I was not sure that it wasn't a Red Phalarope so eventually I hiked around to the backside where I got a better view.  I've seen Red-necks here several times in the past but it's always a good bird the the RGV.

In the SE corner was a flock of six Ruddy Turnstones, a species that I had only seen twice before in Hidalgo County.

In the same corner were five Short-billed Dowitchers.  They are much more common along the Laguna Madre.  The gold edges on the scapulars and tertials make the ID easy on the juveniles.

Semipalmated Plover is also hard to find in the county.

I found a total of sixteen species which is pretty good for this inland site.  Here are Western Sandpipers in basic and juvenile plumage.

Here's a Western with a Least.

I did not photograph any Semipalmated Sandpipers today although there were plenly around so here's one from my visit two weeks ago.

And here's a Willet shot from two weeks ago.  I only saw one distant one today.

I estimated the total number of Stilt Sandpipers to be 2000 based on my count of 500 Wilson's Phalaropes.  I like the dark edgings on the rectrices on the juvenile bird.

Just a fraction of today's birds.