Saturday, September 29, 2018

Dickcissel Madness at Progreso Lakes, 9/29/18

I was mowing our yard today at Progreso Lakes and listening to the popping shot guns of the dove hunters across the large sorghum field in front of our house.  Lots of Red-winged Blackbirds were flying around and flocks of paler birds that I assumed were House Sparrows.  I took a break for dinner and was watching the birds through the window and I thought the flocks of House Sparrows seemed a little tighter than normal.  Hmmmmm.......Dickcissels?  I grabbed the binocs and sure enough there were gobs of Dickcissels in front of our house.  I ran out with the camera and started shooting.

I was going to estimate a couple of hundred but then I saw more flocks.

So I was going to bump to total to 500 and then a really big flock took off.  I settled on 1500.  May have been more.  That was just on my end of the field.

A bunch of them landed in the neighbor's yard.  That substantially increased my one day previous high total of twelve.

Earlier in the day I saw a couple of Wood Storks across the water.

And we got our first Peregrine Falcon of the fall.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Progreso Lakes, 9/23/18

Yesterday I spent the morning looking at birds in our Progreso Lakes yard.  Didn't see anything fantastic but this Olive-sided Flycatcher spent the day catching insects from the power line in front of our house.

It was fun watching it battle a large Common Green Darner.  Wish the light had been better.

Been a while since we've had an Osprey around.

We had about thirty migrant Broad-winged Hawks pass over during the morning but about 300 came in during the evening.

So after playing all day yesterday I decided I needed to do yard work this morning.  I ignored the rising kettles of Broad-winged Hawks as I trimmed the trees.  But I could not ignore the Wood Stork that flew low over the house.  I rushed in to grab my camera and luckily it did a couple of laps over the resaca.

The Wood Stork was species #169 for our yard this year.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

South Padre Island, 9/16/18

Yesterday I decided to get away and check out fall migration on South Padre Island where I spent much of the day with long time Valley native and top notch birder Brad McKinney.  We saw a lot of good stuff but the bird of the day got misidentified.  While Brad and I were taking a break at the Convention Center and discussing the fantastic spring migration of warblers through the mangroves, he mentioned that he needed a Pine Warbler to get to an amazing 40 species of warblers for the year at just this one site.  Well just a bit later this buff yellow-throated Setophaga warbler with white eye arcs and wingbars and blurry streaking down the sides pops up in a tree with Yellow Warblers.  Pine Warbler I yell to Brad.  He didn't see it but I got him on the bird when it appeared a second time.  But he was looking into the sun and didn't get great looks.  I showed him my photo and he agreed and was happy.

Well------ I started editing photos this evening and found my Pine Warbler had dark streaking on the back.  So it's not a Pine Warbler.  The field guides are pretty useless so after looking at photos on the internet, immature Blackpoll Warbler was the best I could come up with.  Wrong again!  After posting it on Facebook, eastern birders recognized it as an immature Blackburnian Warbler.  Well, that plumage is a first for me.  (I just got confirmation from Jon Dunn that it is indeed a Blackburnian.)

Warbler numbers were not great but there was good diversity at both Sheepshead and the Convention Center.  Canada Warblers were at both locations.

As were American Redstarts.

Prothonotary Warbler is a trough one to get down here in Spring and even more difficult in Fall.  This one was at Sheepshead.

We don't get many Tennessee Warblers in Fall.  The white undertail coverts rule out the similar Orange-crowned.

Black-throated Green Warbler at Sheepshead.

Lovely male Wilson's Warbler.

Worm-eating Warblers are not usually common but were at both locations.

A Northern Waterthrush.

An Ovenbird strutting around.

Black-and-white Warblers are pretty common but I still like 'em.

On the non-warbler side this Groove-billed Ani has been at Sheepshead for over a week.  Two more were at the Convention Center.

The other prevalent fall migrants were the flycatchers.  It was a good opportunity to study different Empidonax species and Brad and I debated on more than a few.  One thing I learned is I may have misidentified Acadian Flycatchers as Yellow-bellied in the past.  We had several bright yellow-green Acadians.  Their long, heavy bill with the orange lower mandible is very different than the short wide bill of the Yellow-bellied.  As is usually the case, structure matters more than color.

Here's a Yellow-bellied Flycatcher.

There were plenty of Least Flycatchers.

And then there was this one.  It immediately struck me as something different.  I thought it was a Hammond's, but others think it's just a Least.  The spacing on the primary tips are even and rule out Hammond's Flycatcher.

And the day ended with this Magnificent Frigatebird passing overhead.