Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Yard bird #220 at Progreso Lakes, 11/26/19

With warm windy weather forecast for today, I figured it might be time to get some yard work done.  Did'nt look good for birds and butterflies have been disappointing lately so at least I could accomplish something.  So I put in a couple of hours and was going to work a bit more when visiting butterfly watcher Billy Weber and his parents showed up.  I got Billy his first Double-dotted Skippers last year.  Well, this was a great excuse to quit working and have some fun.  Good butterflies were on the wing and we we doing great when Billy casually mentions "There's a Black-throated Gray Warbler."  Dang!  That's one I've been expecting.  Took me a while to get on it but eventually I got some shots.  Yard bird #220!

More lepidophiles arrived and we wound up seeing 48 species of butterflies including yard butterfly #115, this stonking Mexican Silverspot.

I'm hoping my little Black-throated Gray shows up again tomorrow so I can spend some quality time with it.

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Great Day at Progreso Lakes, 11/16/19

After a few days of rain and cold north winds I decided to invest a day in our yard at Progreso Lakes.  All I can say is "Wow!"  The day started with ducks in the resaca behind our house.  Here's Northern Shovellers, Ring-necked Ducks, Lesser Scaups and a Fulvous Whistling-Duck among the 1500 of so Black-bellies.

Late migrating Turkey Vultures numbered 310.  A Sharp-shinned Hawks was among them.  This flyby Stilt Sandpiper was a first for the month.

Yesterday we got our first White-crowned Sparrow.  I looked for it today but it seemed to be gone.  They are a pretty uncommon winter resident in the brush country down here.

But I put some more seed out and two Chipping Sparrows came in with a couple of Lark Sparrows.  We got our first just two days ago.  Immatures are a bit different from the red-capped adults.

Then a flock of Plain Chachalacas invaded my brush patch to feed on Potato Tree and Fiddlewood berries.

I was maneuvering for more shots when I got one of those serendipitous endorphin releasing surprises that make birding so addictive.  A sparrow flushed up ahead of me and I instantly realized I had a very good bird.  White-throated Sparrow!  I thought it might be years if ever before we saw one of these in our yard.  A wisp of vegetation prevented a perfect shot.

So I threw out some more seed and it didn't take long for the little devil to find it.  White-throated Sparrow is pretty common a few hundred miles north and east of here.  But most years go by without me seeing one in Hidalgo County.

Then our first Lincoln's Sparrow for the year popped out to feed.

Then another ventured out.  The streaking was pretty faint and something didn't seem right.  In the shade I wasn't picking up the chestnut wings.  But I saw the pale throat and then it clicked....Swamp Sparrow!  Gee I figured my only shot at getting this for our yard was to scope the resaca edges and hope to get lucky.  I didn't expect to get on right off our porch.  This immature Swamp Sparrow raises our yard list to 219 species.

The friendly Yellow-throated Warbler came by for a visit.  It was one of seven species of warblers on the day.

And lastly how about a bathing White-eyed Vireo.  This is the first time I've actually seen one go into the water.  Usually it's just a quick belly splash.

Jones yard, Progreso Lakes, Hidalgo, Texas, US
Nov 16, 2019 7:40 AM - 2:10 PM
Protocol: Stationary
57 species (+3 other taxa)

Black-bellied Whistling-Duck (fulgens)  1500
Fulvous Whistling-Duck  1
Muscovy Duck (Domestic type)  2
Northern Shoveler  7
Ring-necked Duck  2
Lesser Scaup  40
Plain Chachalaca  9
Mourning Dove  1
Ruby-throated Hummingbird  1
Black-chinned Hummingbird  1
Buff-bellied Hummingbird (Northern)  2
Stilt Sandpiper  1
Spotted Sandpiper  1
Caspian Tern  1
Neotropic Cormorant  5
American White Pelican  14
Cattle Egret (Western)  3
Black-crowned Night-Heron  3
Yellow-crowned Night-Heron  6
Turkey Vulture  310
Sharp-shinned Hawk (Northern)  1
Red-shouldered Hawk (lineatus Group)  1
Belted Kingfisher  1
Green Kingfisher  1
Golden-fronted Woodpecker (Northern)  2
Ladder-backed Woodpecker  1
American Kestrel  1
Peregrine Falcon  1
Eastern Phoebe  1
Great Kiskadee  2
Couch's Kingbird  1
Tropical/Couch's Kingbird  2
White-eyed Vireo  1    bathing!
Loggerhead Shrike  1
Green Jay (Green)  1
Black-crested Titmouse  2
Northern Rough-winged Swallow  1
Ruby-crowned Kinglet  1
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher (caerulea)  1
House Wren (Northern)  1
Carolina Wren (Northeast Mexico/South Texas)  1
European Starling  6
Northern Mockingbird  3
House Sparrow  2
Chipping Sparrow  2
Lark Sparrow  2
White-throated Sparrow  1
Savannah Sparrow (Savannah)  1
Lincoln's Sparrow  1
Swamp Sparrow  1
Red-winged Blackbird  30
blackbird sp.  100
Orange-crowned Warbler  2
Nashville Warbler  1
Common Yellowthroat  1
Northern Parula  1
Yellow-throated Warbler  1
Black-throated Green Warbler  1
Wilson's Warbler  1
Northern Cardinal  2

Saturday, November 2, 2019

Harris's Sparrow at South Padre Island, 11/2/19

I spent all day yesterday scouting for the upcoming butterfly and bird festivals which start on Sunday.  So today I was going to stay home and get some stuff done, but a Harris's Sparrow was discovered at the South Padre Island Birding Center.  That's a bird I've been wanting for Cameron County for a long time.  So to hell with work and I got my 411th species for the county.  And it's a beautiful adult!

It was cavorting with a flock of Indigo Buntings and a young White-crowned Sparrow.

Meanwhile a few feet away, a first fall female Cape May Warbler was found.  I think this plumage is a first for me.

In the same clump of trees was this Bewick's Wren.  I don't remember ever seeing one of these on SPI.  It seems browned than the ones I normally see out in the brush country.  I wonder where it's from.

And under that group of trees was a skulking Curve-billed Thrasher.  What's up with that?  Another species that I only see out in the dryer parts of the brush.  This is consistent with the large number of Long-billed Thrashers that have been seen on the Island lately.  Not to mention Pyrrhuloxias.  A Green-tailed Towhee was also seen at Sheepshead last week.  Something is going on this fall.

Well I'm off leading trips for the Texas Butterfly Festival for a couple of days and then it's the RGV Birding Festival.  I bet more cool stuff will be found.