Monday, December 25, 2017

Hammond's Flycatcher at Estero Llano Grande State Park, 12/25/17

I was over in Cameron County today looking for Burrowing Owls when I got a call call from Mary Gustafson telling me she and the Sniders had just found what was either a Hammond's or Dusky Flycatcher.  Well either one would be a new Hidalgo County bird for me so I rushed right over.  When I arrived at the the spot in the Tropical Zone, no one was around which was fine by me.  I either want folks there looking at the bird or no one there so I can find it on my own.  It only took me a few minutes to find a flock of wintering passerines and there was our little empid with them.  After taking a few photos I could they this bird had a tiny narrow bill and looked like a Hammond's Flycatcher to me.  I called Mary to tell here I had found the bird and she said Mark Lockwood had looked at the photos and pronounced it a Hammond's.  A little later I refound the bird and it was giving the distinctive Hammond's Flycatcher "beek" call. 

I think this may be a first Hidalgo County record and for me was Hidalgo County bird #392.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Violet-crowned Hummingbird at Sanderson, 11/15/17

When Lee Hoy moved to Sanderson out in Terrell County I knew he would come up with some good stuff.  An oasis in the desert, just far enough west and now with a resident birder, it was just a matter of time.  A couple of days ago, long time birder Mel Cooksey was in the area and checked out Lee's yard only to find a Violet-crowned Hummingbird.  Though the 20th record for the state, it was one I still needed for my Texas list.  They always occur way out west and often are in someone's yard and not reported till after the fact.  I missed the one at Frontera Audubon that was found while people were looking for the Blue Mockingbird years ago.

Anyway, I left made the long eight hour drive yesterday and arrived in the afternoon.  When I got there Joe Hood already had the bird on a platter for me.

Walking around the neighborhood turned up a few more birds like this Cactus Wren.

And this scolding Bewick's Wren.

The Rock Wren wasn't as cooperative.

Joe and I discussed the calling ravens overhead.  To me they sounded like Chihuahuan but it was a close call.  The photo shows long rictal bristles and what looks like exposed white underfeathers on the neck so I'm sticking with Chihuahuan Raven over Common.  Also I think the tail is not wedged out enough for Common Raven.

I decided save my motel resouces for another trip (I hear the Panhandle calling) so I turned around and headed for home.  I stopped ten miles to the east to check out the Sanderson Canyon wash and pished in a couple of Black-tailed Gnatcatchers.

I got back home just after midnight, 18.5 hours and 940 miles after leaving home in the morning.

Delta Lake, 12/14/17

After forty years of doing Christmas Bird Counts I've been getting a little tired of them lately.  But J.D. was short-handed with the La Sal Vieja count so I agreed to go and cover my old area at Delta Lake.  Turned out to be a cool, windless, cloudy day; great for birding but crappy for photography.  I spend nine hours covering the county park and the resort and finished with a respectable total of 82 species.  Nothing fantastic but fun none the less.  I got my usual Yellow Warblers, the only reliable wintering location I know of in the country.

Yellow-throated Warblers always winter here but my total of thirteen seemed unusually high.

My best bird was probably this Clay-colored Thrush.  I don't ever recall seeing one up here before.  I don't know if it was new for the count.

Plenty of Vermillion Flycatchers as usual in the park.

It's always a treat to get a Merlin.

Here's the list.

Delta Lake (LTC 008), Hidalgo, Texas, US
Dec 14, 2017 7:30 AM - 4:30 PM
Protocol: Traveling
3.0 mile(s)
Comments: 8 hrs on foot, 1 hr by car, 2 miles by foot, 1 mile by car
82 species (+4 other taxa)

Black-bellied Whistling-Duck (fulgens) 150
Snow Goose 25
Muscovy Duck (Domestic type) 1
Blue-winged Teal 10
Northern Shoveler 4
Gadwall 4
Mottled Duck (Gulf Coast) 28
Northern Pintail 40
Canvasback 21
Redhead 22 yup
Ring-necked Duck 100
Lesser Scaup 300
Bufflehead 1
Ruddy Duck (Ruddy) 8
Pied-billed Grebe 2
Neotropic Cormorant 100
Double-crested Cormorant 50
Anhinga 4
American White Pelican 3
Great Blue Heron (Blue form) 16
Great Egret 7
Snowy Egret 2
Black Vulture 6
Turkey Vulture 75
Osprey (carolinensis) 2
White-tailed Kite 1
Northern Harrier 2
Sharp-shinned Hawk 1
Cooper's Hawk 1
Harris's Hawk 1
Red-shouldered Hawk 1
Red-tailed Hawk 4
Sora 1
Common Gallinule (American) 3
American Coot (Red-shielded) 94
Sandhill Crane 1
Killdeer 20
Spotted Sandpiper 3
Greater Yellowlegs 1
Laughing Gull 20
Ring-billed Gull 10
Caspian Tern 3
Eurasian Collared-Dove 8
Inca Dove 8
White-tipped Dove 1
Mourning Dove 8
Ringed Kingfisher 1
Belted Kingfisher 2
Golden-fronted Woodpecker (Northern) 15
Ladder-backed Woodpecker 5
Crested Caracara 3
American Kestrel 3
Merlin 1
Black Phoebe 2
Eastern Phoebe 7
Vermilion Flycatcher 5
Great Kiskadee 15
Couch's Kingbird 3
Tropical/Couch's Kingbird 1
Loggerhead Shrike 1
White-eyed Vireo 3
Blue-headed Vireo 2
Green Jay (Green) 2
Tree Swallow 150 Blue above, white below wheeling over the lake. Counted and estimated
Black-crested Titmouse 2
House Wren (Northern) 27
Marsh Wren 2
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher 8
Ruby-crowned Kinglet 30
Clay-colored Thrush 1
Northern Mockingbird 12
European Starling 34
Orange-crowned Warbler 50
Common Yellowthroat 50
Yellow Warbler (Northern) 3 Three different birds photographed.
Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle) 54
Yellow-rumped Warbler (Audubon's) 2
Yellow-throated Warbler 13 Amazing total. Ten on west side and three on east. About twice my normal CBC total.
Wilson's Warbler 1
Lincoln's Sparrow 5
Swamp Sparrow 3
Northern Cardinal 2
Red-winged Blackbird 10
Great-tailed Grackle 100
blackbird sp. 200
House Sparrow 40