Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Horned Grebes, Mountain Bluebirds at Falcon, 12/15/20

Michael Emenaker has been volunteering at Falcon State Park for the past few weeks and has been finding some good birds up there.  First it was Mountain Bluebirds and that had me thinging about making a trip.  But when Michael found a couple of Horned Grebes, a species I have seen only once in the RGV, that was enough to push the needle past the line.  So yesterday I made the long painful drive up river.  Falcon Reservoir has been low for many years due to the prolonged drough.  Vast areas of the lake that are normally submerged are dry land now with actual mudflats that never previously existed.  First I dove out to the make shift boat launching area which is just barely in Zapata County.  I could not find the grebes nor the bluebirds but I did get a Say's Phoebe.

Not finding my birds near the boat lunch, I drove around to the picnic area and made my way down the rough track to the flats which are in Starr County.  I found another Say's Phoebe and a few Savannah Sparrows but that was it.  There were distant Herring and Ring-billed Gulls on the little island a few hundred yards off shore.  This is a Herring Gull which is a pretty good bird for Starr County.

Due to my late start, it was already lunchtime.  I was breaking out my sandwich when the two Horned Grebes appeared about 30 yards away.  They had probably been there the whole time.

Wow! What a great species for Starr County!  I went back to my sandwich when a little flock of American Pipits drifted by.

I was watching the pipits when I saw a flash of bright blue.  Mountain Bluebird!  Due to severe drought in the Southwest, Mountain Bluebirds have invaded Texas where they are also finding little to eat.  Consequently they are showing up all across the state this year.  Michael reported four birds but I found only three.

I was stalking the bluebirds for better photos when I saw a little passerine with white outer tail feathers pass overhead and let out a "squeek".  Unfornately I could not get a photo of the Sprague's Pipit.  So here's the second Say's Phoebe.

Time for butterflies.  I drove back to the butterfly garden but not much was going on.  Fortunately I ran into Michael and he invited me over to his campsite where he has been feeding birds.  The star attraction was a Green-tailed Towhee that has been coming in for seed.  Best I can figure the campground is in Zapata County so I think this was a new county bird for me.

What a nice little serendipitous trip!

No comments: