Sunday, January 7, 2018

Happy New Year and some catching up, 1/7/18

Happy New Year!  I guess I need to be a little more regular in making posts this year so here's some catching up from the last few weeks.  I had thought about driving up to Warbler Woods north of San Antonio this weekend to check out the Golden-crowned Sparrow but decided at the last moment to stay home.  It was the right decision.  Yesterday a Long-eared Owl was found at the Edinburg Scenic Wetlands and I was glad I was home so I could race over to twitch this longtime nemesis Texas bird.  Not great shots but I'm happy to get Texas bird #572 and Hidalgo County bird #393.

And on Saturday I got a great new bird for our yard.  I was scoping the openings in the carrizo across the water from our back yard when I glimpsed a bird that I had hoped I would one day find for our yard list.  There in the dark opening stood a small rusty rail with black barring below....Virginia Rail!  Problem was my camera was lying on a chair on the back porch.  So I ran like crazy to the porch, grabbed the camera and returned to where I had been standing at the edge of the water.  I could not see the bird but shot photos anyway at the opening where I had seen it.  The image in the camera was too dark but it looked like I had missed the bird.  Then I looked in the scope and there stood a Sora in the same opening.  Ugh!  Had I imagined the Virginia Rail?  I watched the opening and others nearby for a half hour but saw only the Sora.  Disappointed I went back into the house and plugged my SD card into the computer.  I had only one last hope.  Maybe I had captured the Virginia Rail after all.  And what a relief!  There in the photo was the fuzzing mage of the Virginia Rail and Sora standing side bye side.  Yard bird #193 was a good one.

This morning I was checking out the ducks in the resaca bordering our back yard hoping for something new.  Gadwall, Blue-winged Teal and Northern Shoveller have been regular lately along with thousands of Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks.  Then I head the calls overhead of Snow Geese.  After a few seconds I spied about ten of them and started firing away on the camera.  It was pretty evident that one was smaller.  It's the third time I've seen a Ross's Goose from our yard.  The difference in bill size is evident even in these photos.

I've also see a couple of good birds over in Cameron County recently.  A Zone-tailed Hawk had been photographed several times over Laguna Vista and I decided to make an attempt to see this species I had missed numerous times in Cameron County.  I waited on the nature trail on 12/12/17 and it didn't take long for the Turkey Vulture mimic to pass nearby.  Cameron County bird #400, well at least by eBird standards.  I have some illegal Browsville parrots that are not countable according to ABA rules.  My ABA list would be 396.

Another expected bird that I've not seen in Cameron County is Burrowing Owl.  Well, that is no longer the case.  Mary Gustafson found one by Los Fesnos and was kind enough to share the spot with me.  So on 12/29/17, I got Cameron County bird #401!  Woops I had a a great photo and I guess I didn't save it.  Yes I did.  It's on eBird so I ran over and got a copy.

Well, it's been a good winter in the Valley so far.  And with the recent super cold weather I think we are due some altitudenal migrants from Mexico.  Stay tuned.

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