Sunday, January 31, 2021

Dunlin at Progreso Lakes, 1/31/21

I looked out the bedroom window this morning and saw what looked like a Zonotrichia sparrow with this thick black stripes on the head.  I didn't see any white like a White-crowned would have.  It looked like a Golden-crowned but I didn't see any yellow.  I ran out side with the camera and couldn't find it.  Maybe it was just a molting White-crowned.  Anyway I spent much of the day on our porch watching my brush patch and hoping for a reoccurrence of the mystery sparrow.  

And while I was watching for the sparrow, I happened to see  a flock of Long-billed Dowitchers streaking by over the resaca.  I fired a few quick shots and looked at the back of my camera.  It was obvious one of the birds was smaller with a long decurved bill.  I just assumed it was our first Stilt Sandpiper of the year.  What a surprise when, while editing the photos, I discovered the Stilt Sanbdpiper had short legs and a dark bar on the rump.  I was actually a Dunlin which is pretty rare away from the coast and bird #235 for our Progreso Lakes yard.

In this shot the Dunlin is on the right side of the Long-billed Dowitchers.

Meanwhile the Clay-colored Sparrow continues.

As does my White-throated Sparrow.

Listers are never satisfied so I will be hoping for the return of my mystery sparrow.  However that Dunlin was a species I thought I would never record for our yard so I think I will bask in the glory of that one for a bit.

Thursday, January 28, 2021

1st Clay-colored Sparrow at Progreso Lakes, 1/27/21

 I was brushing my teeth this morning and looked out the bedroom window only to see a little Spizella feeding with the House Sparrows.  So I spit out the tooth brush and grabbed the camera and managed the first shot.  I was hoping for a Brewer's Sparrow but I'm just fine with it being a Clay-colored, bird species #234 for our yard.  It hung around all day so I got a few more shots.  Visiting birders later told me they saw it yesterday also.

The White-throated Sparrow is also still around with the resident Olive Sparrow and four Lincoln's Sparrows.  With drought conditions becoming pretty severe, I would not be surprised to see more wintering brush country birds show up in our yard.

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Black Skimmer at Progreso Lakes, 1/21/21

It was a cool, cloudy, drippy day so I decided to stay in our Progreso Lakes yard and see what I could find for the new year list.  At one point a couple of Caspian Terns approached.  I got a bad shot of the first and wasn't even going to try for the second.  But I did and was shocked to see it was actually a Black Skimmer.  In Hidalgo County, Black Skimmer shows up annually, usually one or two in the heat of summer on some distant drying wetland.  They are abundant on the coast.  And I was expecting to maybe see on from the yard some summer but I wasn't expecting one in January.  Yard bird #233.

Our wintering White-throated Sparrow popped out a few time but is always skittish.

The local Olive Sparrow is much more tame.

The Long-billed Thrasher has recently moved into the brush patch and now acts like it's the boss.

This Hooded Oriole was flagged on eBird for being a little early.

As soon as I left my post on the lake shore, the Black-bellies reclaimed their loafing spot.

Today's birds pushed the new yard year list to 85.

Jones yard, Progreso Lakes, Hidalgo, Texas, US
Jan 21, 2021 7:30 AM - 2:15 PM
Protocol: Stationary
54 species (+1 other taxa)

Black-bellied Whistling-Duck (fulgens)  2000
Fulvous Whistling-Duck  1
Muscovy Duck (Domestic type)  6
Northern Shoveler  1
American Wigeon  2
Ring-necked Duck  4
Lesser Scaup  120
Plain Chachalaca  6
Eurasian Collared-Dove  2
Inca Dove  6
White-tipped Dove  1
Mourning Dove  30
Rufous Hummingbird  1
Buff-bellied Hummingbird (Northern)  1
Common Gallinule (American)  1
American Coot (Red-shielded)  2
Spotted Sandpiper  1
Caspian Tern  2
Forster's Tern  1
Black Skimmer  1    
Neotropic Cormorant  4
Double-crested Cormorant  1
Great Egret (American)  1
Snowy Egret  1
Green Heron  2
Black-crowned Night-Heron  10
Yellow-crowned Night-Heron  6
Turkey Vulture  1
Red-tailed Hawk  1
Ringed Kingfisher  1
Golden-fronted Woodpecker (Northern)  1
Ladder-backed Woodpecker  1
Black Phoebe  2
Eastern Phoebe  1
Vermilion Flycatcher  1
Great Kiskadee  1
Green Jay (Green)  2
Northern Rough-winged Swallow  1
Tree Swallow  5
European Starling  6
Long-billed Thrasher  1
Northern Mockingbird  2
House Sparrow  15
Olive Sparrow  1
White-throated Sparrow  1    
Lincoln's Sparrow  4
Hooded Oriole (cucullatus/sennetti)  1 
Altamira Oriole  1
Red-winged Blackbird  100
Great-tailed Grackle  1
Orange-crowned Warbler  2
Common Yellowthroat  2
Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle)  6
Wilson's Warbler  2
Northern Cardinal  6

Monday, January 18, 2021

Good local birds, 1/18/21

I still haven't decided to be serious a about state or county year list but the good birds are out there so I just keep ticking them off.  However people who are serious are getting way ahead of me so it may be the usual decision by default.  Yesterday I ran over to nearby Esperanza Street in Progreso.  This is in a new subdivision being built in the old Progreso turf farm.  Very few houses have been built and the old turf grass has attracted a lot of grassland birds.  Best are a trio of female Mountain Bluebirds.

In the same lot with the bluebirds are several Sprague's Pipits.  Since Anzalduas County Park, the usual pipit spot, is closed, we have to find these guys where we can.  I saw four of them through the scope at about 80 yards and a few loud "pishes" brought them in.

Present in the same area was a Say's Phoebe which was hanging out with the Mountain Bluebirds just like the ones at Falcon.

At the entrance to the subdivision was a surprise Lark Bunting.

After a nice morning I went home to watch some NFL playoff games.  That was interruped by a text saying that a Burrowing Owl had just been found atop an irrigation standpipe just down the road from Esperanza Street.  And since the border wall has fenced off our usual location for this species I figured I had better go get it.  I was back home in less than twenty minutes.

While I was watching football I got my first Hooded Oriole of the year on the hummungbird feeder in our back yard.  This shot was through the window.

The day befor I dropped Honey off at the gym and I ran over to Bentsen State Park to tick the long staying Ruddy Ground Dove.

While at Bentsen I got word that a Black-throated Blue Warbler had been found in McAllen.  So I raced over to get this hard to find Hidalgo County bird.

The day before that we got our first Long-billed Thrasher of the year for our yard list.

So my Texas 2021 list is at 201 and my Hidalgo County year list is at 162.  This is more than I've ever had so early in the year and the leaders are way out in front of me.  But I'm not giving up yet.

Thursday, January 7, 2021

Good Day after a Bad Day, 1/7/21

Wow, yesterday was such a bad day.  On 9/11 I watched in horror.  Yesterday I was just naseous and heart broken but I think I felt worse.  Maybe America can mend but there may be too many jackasses.  If these were desparate jobless starving people I could understand.  But all I saw was a bunch of fat hateful racists.  I bet Putin was laughing his ass off while most Americans cried.  And Trump pouted.

Anyway I felt better when I got up this morning and looked out the window and saw this plucky White-throated Sparrow in our Progreso Lakes yard.  It was only our second ever.

And I finally got the Fulvous Whistling-Duck for the year list.

Honey wanted to work out today so I dropped her off at the gym and I ran over to nearby Quinta Mazatlan.  I'm not really serious about doing a big year but there are so many good birds around now that I feel I should tick them just in case I change my mind.  Everyone was seeing good stuff at Quinta today but it took me a while to get "tuned in."  Things started slow.  I missed Bert and Baceliza's Blue Bunting at the Amphitheater but I got the Black-headed Grosbeak.

I couldn't find the Pacific-slope Flycatcher in the Ebony Grove but I got poor shots of the Dusky-capped Flycatcher after other birders found it.

So I headed over to the Discovery Center where a male Blue Bunting had been seen.  No problem!

I was back in the groove.  I got good looks at the female Black-headed Grosbeak but I failed to get a photo.  So here's one of the ten Clay-colored Thrushes.

My juices were flowing so I went back to the Ebony Grove and easily found the Pacific-slope Flycatcher.

So what the hell, I went back over to the Amphitheater and found the female Blue Bunting I had missed earlier.

I would rather be lucky that good.  But sometimes I just like being good!

Friday, January 1, 2021

Happy New Year 2021!

I spent the late morning and afternoon at Estero Llano Grande State Park trying to get the new year list off to a good start.  As I walked back to my car for lunch I saw some commotion and people running towards one of the volunteer's camp sites.  Turns out there was a Crimson-collared Grosbeak feeding in the anacua behind Steve and Sue's trailor.  At least six of the NE Mexican endemic have been seen in the Valley this winter.  This one seems to be a young male.  I've never seen the red on a juvenal.

While I was sitting in the blind waiting for warblers at the water feature, the Elegant Trogan put in an appearance but I only got this poor shot.  Can you spot the trogon?

This Clay-colored Thrush was more cooperative.

Always nice to get a Hermit Thrush.

Then it was time to make the rounds of the ponds.  This Virginia Rail was nice.  I didn't see one last year.

Otherwise there was nothing noteworthy though there were lots of birds.

Estero Llano Grande SP, Hidalgo, Texas, US
Jan 1, 2021 11:45 AM - 4:14 PM
Protocol: Traveling
3.0 mile(s)
71 species (+2 other taxa)

Blue-winged Teal  6
Cinnamon Teal  2
Northern Shoveler  50
Gadwall  6
American Wigeon  1
Mottled Duck (Gulf Coast)  2
Green-winged Teal (American)  100
Ruddy Duck  1
Plain Chachalaca  7
Least Grebe  12
Inca Dove  10
White-tipped Dove  12
White-winged Dove  5
Mourning Dove  1
Black-chinned Hummingbird  1
Ruby-throated/Black-chinned Hummingbird  1
Buff-bellied Hummingbird (Northern)  1
Virginia Rail  1
Sora  2
Common Gallinule (American)  6
American Coot (Red-shielded)  80
Killdeer  1
Long-billed Dowitcher  18
Wilson's Snipe  2
Anhinga  1
Double-crested Cormorant  1
American White Pelican  28
Great Blue Heron (Blue form)  1
Great Egret (American)  2
Snowy Egret  10
Black-crowned Night-Heron  4
Yellow-crowned Night-Heron  6
White-faced Ibis  6
Black Vulture  3
Turkey Vulture  1
Northern Harrier  1
Red-shouldered Hawk (lineatus Group)  1
Red-tailed Hawk  1
Elegant Trogon  1
Golden-fronted Woodpecker (Northern)  5
Ladder-backed Woodpecker  3
American Kestrel  1
Black Phoebe  4
Eastern Phoebe  4
Vermilion Flycatcher  4
Great Kiskadee  6
Couch's Kingbird  1
Tropical/Couch's Kingbird  2
Blue-headed Vireo  1
Green Jay (Green)  6
Black-crested Titmouse  2
Cave Swallow (Texas)  8
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher (caerulea)  2
Marsh Wren  1
Carolina Wren (Northeast Mexico/South Texas)  1
European Starling  8
Long-billed Thrasher  1
Northern Mockingbird  6
Hermit Thrush  1
Clay-colored Thrush  2
Cedar Waxwing  2
House Sparrow  2
Lark Sparrow  6
Lincoln's Sparrow  1
Altamira Oriole  2
Red-winged Blackbird  100
Great-tailed Grackle  40
Black-and-white Warbler  1
Orange-crowned Warbler  6
Common Yellowthroat  2
Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle)  12
Crimson-collared Grosbeak  1
Northern Cardinal  3