Friday, November 27, 2020

Elegant Togon at Estero Llano Grande St Park, 11/27/20

 A few days ago, Troy and Marla Hibbetts were visiting in the Vally and Troy, who may be the best all around field biologist I've ever met, saw a flyby Elegant Trogon at Estero Llano Grande State Park in Weslaco.  He didn't get a photo but submitted an excellent drawing and description for his eBird submission.  I had no doubt in his sighting but I figured chances were slim that the trogon would ever be seen again.  Well as often is the case I was wrong and the Elegant Trogon was found in the Tropical Zone at Estero.  Lots of people got to see it yesterday and I made my try today.  As soon as I arrived Brad McKinney had the bird in view and I got some poor photos of this eighth Texas record.  I think it's a first fall female.

When I was at Estero a few days ago I missed the "lawrencei" Dusky-capped Flycatcher but birders had it pinned down for me today.  The crown on this east Mexican subspecies is much darker than the birds commonly seen in SE Arizona.

I didn't go after the trogon yesterday because I was on South Padre Island chasing after a Prairie Falcon.  Well, there wasn't much chasing involved as it just sit high on a ledge of a condo.  But it's been a long time nemesis for me in Cameron County and I am glad to count it as my 415th species for the county.

At the Convention Center was a couple of Cedar Waxings which are pretty uncommon.

And an American Robin.  Quite a few around this year.

Best bird was this young male Hooded Oriole which refused to cooperate.

Then I made a stop at the Valley Land Fund's Sheepshead lot for the long staying female Anna's Hummingbird.  It's been a few years since I've seen one in the RGV.

I had to run an errand in Weslaco this afternoon so I made a stop at Frontera Audubon.  I made a brief run through and didn't see much but I bet something good turns up soon.  I had to settle for this plucky little Black-throated Gray Warbler.  Seems every birding spot has one this fall.

The good birding continues as two Crimson-collared Grosbeaks were found at Quinta Mazatlan in McAllen today.  I don't know whether to chase them or find my own.

Monday, November 23, 2020

Some Good Hidalgo County Birds, 11/23/20

There have been a lot of interesting birds found in the Rio Grande Valley the past couple of weeks but I have been missing out on them because of chores at home and spending time looking for birds and butterflies in our Progreso Lakes yard.  Today I decided to make the short drive over to Estero Llano Grande State Park to look for some of their recent good birds.  I missed out on the Summer Tanager and Dusky-capped Flycatcher but got fantastic looks at the Hammond's Flycatcher as it bathed in the mister at the Indigo Blind.  This Rocky Mountain empid is just another of the western birds that have strayed to the Valley this fall.  A Hammond's visited Estero several years ago so this wasn't a new county bird for me.  I think the first photo is catching some green reflection for the pool at the blind.

Right after the Hammond's Flycatcher left, a Tropical parula dropped in for a bath.  I'm guessing this is a young male.  It seems to have a bit of an eye ring so there may be a few Northern Parula genes in the pool.

Brad McKinney was in the blind with me as I took these photos and we decided to make a try for the Red-naped Sapsucker at the San Juan Wetlands.  When we arrived my birding buddies Bert Wessling and John Heaney had the sapsucker staked out for us.   I've seen several of these in the RGV through the years but it's interesting that we have one while other western birds are present.

Then as we watched the Red-naped Sabsucker we heard a very flicker-like "skew" call in the distance.  Another western bird, a "Red-shafted" Northern Flicker had been seen in the area the past few days.  We chased it down and John spied it in a distant tree on private property.  But it promptly flew into the park where we were able to get some poor views of it.

We also saw a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker and our usual Golden-fronted and Ladder-backed Woodpeckers to make this a rare five woodpecker day, a first for me in the Valley.

Another rare bird in the Rio Grande Valley is this Ruddy Ground Dove which has been present for about ten days at Bentsen Rio Grande State Park.  This is only the second I've seen in Texas.  The other was at Estero years ago.  East Mexican Ruddies are much more brightly colored than their West Mexican counterparts.

Meanwhile I just got word that Troy Hibbetts has just found an Elegant Trogon at Estero.  There's the Dusky-capped Flycather at Estero and a Rose-throated Becard at Santa Ana NWR so not only is the Valley being invaded by western birds but Mexican strays are starting to show up.  Looks like it's going to be a great winter.

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

First American Robin at Progreso Lakes, 11/17/20

This morning I was throwing out some seed in our driveway at Progreso Lakes when I heard some clucks and squeels overhead.  It took me a second but I soon recognized the sound which I have known since childhood.  I looked up and saw an American Robin and then several more.

I followed them into the back yard where I eventually counted eleven as they flew off to the east.  Later I saw a few American Robins across the water and and when they took flight the flock swirled up as they often do making it easier to count them.  I came up with 27.  I will assume my first flock was part of the second but maybe we just have a lot of robins around.  Anyway they were yard bird #232 which isn't too bad considering I submitted our first eBird list exactly four years ago today.

A few days ago I stepped out on the back porch first thing in the morning and our wintering Lesser Scaup flock swam into view.  And a couple of visitors joined them.  This pair of Canvasbacks are only the second sighting for our yard.  They were the 201st bird of the year.  So today's American Robins put our Progreso Lakes yard list at 202 for 2020.

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

200 in 2020 at Progreso Lakes, 11/11/20

I will start this post just like the last one.  I stepped out of the back porch first thing this morning.......and a flock of Lesser Scaup swam into view.  And then I saw a Gadwall with them.  So I stepped into the house and grabbed my camera to document it and then I saw two American Wigeons.  Pretty nice start to the day.  Later I entered the birds into eBird and discovered that they were both new for my Progreso Lakes 2020 yard list.  And that brings our species total for 2020 to an even 200.  I never thought it would be possible to see that many species from our yard in a year.  It's probably a combination of spending more time in the yard because of the pandemic and that my habitat improvements are starting to pay off.

Later in the afternoon I looked out my bedroom window just before my afternoon nap and spied this Chipping Sparrow working on some seeds I had thrown out.  It's such a weird fall.  Temperatures feel like summer but winter migrants are showing up.

So our Progreso Lakes yard totals for the first four years look like this. 

2017 - 188, 2018 - 180, 2019 - 193, 2020 - 200

Monday, November 9, 2020

First Hermit Thrush at Progreso Lakes, 11/9/20

I stepped out on the back porch first thing this morning only to be greeted by a Hermit Thrush in our bird bath at Progreso Lakes.  We get a few in the Rio Grande Valley most winters, usually out in the brush country, but they are not common.  They are great fruit eaters and we have lots of fiddlewood and lantana berries so maybe it will stick around if the mockingbirds don't harrass it too much.

This Hermit Thrush was yard bird #231.  There's lots of strange stuff wandering around the Valley lately so who knows what will be next?

Friday, November 6, 2020

More Warblers at Progreso Lakes, 11/5/20

 A Blue Bunting was found at the Birding Center on South Padre Island day before yesterday, so I was thinking about running out there to get it on my SPI list which stands at about 310.  But after taking out the trash and seeing a nice flock of warblers in the yard I decided to stay home.  This was good since I had forgotten a butterfly group was coming over to visit the yard.  Well after they left I went back to looking for birds and then it turned into a day of warbler watching.  The hot spot was our little bird bath where the birds lined up to take turns splashing around.  I was happy to see the first winter female Black-throated Gray Warbler up close and not high in a tree.

There were two Yellow-throated Warblers and the dominant one took his spot at the bath.

A Magnolia Warbler landed for a second above the bath but flew when I raised my camera.  The Northern Parula then came in and was a nice substitute.  Notice the photo bomb.

Four Nashville Warblers was my high count.

This Orange-crowned Warbler seemes to have a very pale undertail coverts like a Tennessee.  But otherwise it's all Orange-crowned.

The Wilson's Warbler came in right on schedule.  Kind of a poor photo.

A Common Yellowthroat has also been spending time in our brush patch.

A couple of days ago I glimpsed what I though was a Yellow Warbler.  It's getting a little late in the season for those so I was happy to see it for real.

I was undable to get a photo of the Black-throated Green Warbler but did get one of the common Yellow-rumped Warbler.

So the warbler species total for the day was eleven which is our one day high.  But the warblers may have paled in comparieson to our other yard visitor.  I was looking for butterflies in the brush patch when I came across this Texas Coral Snake.  Red and yellow means dangerous fellow.