Saturday, November 17, 2018

"Gray-headed" Junco at Quinta Mazatlan,11/17/18

This morning it was calm so I thought I would check out the ponds in eastern Hidalgo County in an attempt to find my 400th bird for the county.  I knew the chances were slim but it doesn't hurt to get out and look and see what's around.  I found some Buffleheads at the Sugar House Pond and a Dunlin at Delta Lake so I was doing pretty good for the morning.  My next stop was to be Sal del Rey in an attempt to refind the Red-necked Phalaropes from last week.  Then my darn WhatsApp dinged again.  "Dark-eyed Junco at Quinta Mazatlan."  Well, that would sure be new for my county list.  Every once in a while someone will find one on area Chrismast Bird Counts but they are never seen again.  I just got my first for Cameron County last winter.

So I turned the car around and headed south.  I arrived at the spot in the new southern extension of Quinta Mazatlan and found a group of birders waiting by a brush pile where the junco had been seen earlier in the morning.  It took a while but eventually the junco popped up.  It was the "Gray-headed" subspecies of the Dark-eyed Junco.  These are pretty common in the southwestern US but I think it may be the first for the lower RGV.  The few juncos we get are of the eastern "Slate-colored" subspecies.  And it was my 400th species for Hidalgo County and fifth new county bird in the last ten days.  I went the entire year of 2016 with out getting any new Hidalgo County birds, so this has been quite a streak.

I started the morning with six Buffleheads at the Sugar House Pond.  That was a new one for the county year list.

It's always tough to find Dunlins inland.  This one was at Delta Lake.

Two weeks ago I thought it might take a few years to get the county list up to 400.  I guess I was wrong.

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