Monday, July 27, 2020

Hurricane Hanna drops Coastal Birds at Delta Lake, 7/27/20

Hurricane Hanna crossed from the Gulf into South Texas just north of Port Mansfield at about noon on 7/25/20.  For the next sixteen hours she ground across the brush country with winds up to 90 MPH at an agonizingly slow 8 mph dropping from eight to twenty inches of rain across the Rio Grande Valley.  The upshot was much flooding and displaced coastal seabirds.  So yesterday afternoon Justin LeClaire battled his way through flooded roadways up to Delta Lake and reported one Common Tern, six Royal Terns, three Sandwich Terns and a Brown Pelican.

Our internet was down so I didn't get the message till late and had to make the trip up this morning.  Three of those species I've seen before in Hidalgo County but Sandwich Tern was a species I was not sure I would ever get to see.  After finding that FM 88 north of Weslaco was flooded I detoured to US 281 up through Edinburg to TX 186 and then east to FM 88 and south to Delta Lake.  Upon arrival I was disappointed to find the water high on the west side where the mudflats can hold rare birds.  But not to worry, there was a small group of terns on a small mudflat on the east side.  Scoping soon turned up two Sandwich Terns, Hidalgo County bird #408.

With them was a juvenile Common Tern, a species I have seen only once before in Hidalgo County.

Six Caspian Terns were not a surprise.

It took a while but a Royal Tern finally dropped in.  I've seen them maybe three times in the County.  This one is next to a juvenile Caspian Tern.

I was about to give up on the Brown Pelican when it flew over my head.  This is a pretty ratty juvenile.

The day started well with a Magnificent Frigatebird on FM 88 over the flood channel just south of Weslaco.  Only my second ever in the County.

A lot of people are suffering because of Hurricane Hanna but she sure made for fascinating birding.

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