Saturday, March 20, 2021

New Birds at Progreso Lakes, 3/20/21

After a cold front blew out all the nasty, hot, humid air, the pasty couple of days have been delightful with cool sunny mornings and low humidity.  Yesterday I was watching swallows from the front yard looking for my first Cliff Swallow of the Spring.  It didn't take long before I found several with the migrating Tree and Barn Swallows.

Then I noticed a sparrow on the electric wire.  A quick look through the binocs told me it was a Savannah Sparrow.  I usually get very distant views from our yard so I decided to pish it in closer.  It obliged and landed near a seeding dandelion just at the edge of the cotton field across the lane.  I snapped a few photos and was shocked by what I saw on the back of the camera.  It was a Vesper Sparrow!  How did I manage that?  Well I then noticed there were three sparrows and yes two of them were Savannahs but the third was the first Vesper Sparrow for our yard.  Vesper Sparrows are not easy to find in the Valley.  Usually I get them up on Brushline Road or on Mile 7 north of La Joya.  So yard bird #236 was an unexpected treat.

Besides the swallows, I was also watching for migrating hawks.  As the morning warmed a few Turkey Vultures started looking for thermals.  I wound up with 350 for the day.  All but twenty of them were after noon.

Then among the kettling vultures I picked up my first Swainson's Hawk for the year.  I saw several more during the afternoon.

Then I got my first Broad-winged Hawk for the year.

Yesterday was a pretty good day and I was hoping today would be the same.  Things got off to a good start as I ate breakfast and noticed a warbler in the tree over the driveway.  It was a stunning male Black-and-white Warbler getting a bite to eat before continuing his journey north.

I spent some time in the front yard waiting for migrant raptors but not much was going on today so I moved to the back porch to watch my feeding area.  I put out an orange and some seed and things got busy.  I've had five or so Lincln's Sparrows all winter but today was different.  It seemed like there were more so I glassed over the brush patch and feeding area and twice came up with a count of thirteen!  Our previous high had been just seven.  Apparently these guys are headed north too.

I was running some water on our coral beean tree which really took a beating during the freeze.  The water attracted the first Clay-colored Thrush I've seen in weeks.

American Goldfinches were hitting the sunflower feeder.

A Lesser Goldfinch came into where I was watering the coral bean.  It showed no interest in the feeder.

Then I decided to take a walk around the yard.  I was approaching my frozen dead exotic garden area when a flock of goldfinches flew up from a seeding dandelion.  There was another Lesser and several Americans.  And a little streaked guy!  The first Pine Siskin for our yard!  There's been a lot of Pine Siskins around the Rio Grande Valley this winter so I figured we would get one some time.  I retreated to the porch and it didn't take long for the Pine Siskin to find the feeder.  Yard bird #237.

Here's today's list.

Jones yard, Progreso Lakes, Hidalgo, Texas, US
Mar 20, 2021 8:10 AM - 1:10 PM
Protocol: Stationary
57 species (+3 other taxa)

Black-bellied Whistling-Duck (fulgens)  2000
Muscovy Duck (Domestic type)  3
Eurasian Collared-Dove  1
Inca Dove  2
White-tipped Dove  1
White-winged Dove  1
Mourning Dove  6
Ruby-throated Hummingbird  1
Buff-bellied Hummingbird (Northern)  1
American Coot (Red-shielded)  3
Black-necked Stilt (Black-necked)  1
Neotropic Cormorant  12
Double-crested Cormorant  1
American White Pelican  1
Great Blue Heron (Blue form)  2
Great Egret (American)  1
Snowy Egret  1
Green Heron  1
Black-crowned Night-Heron  5
Black Vulture  23
Cooper's Hawk  1
Harris's Hawk  2
Broad-winged Hawk  1
Swainson's Hawk  1
Red-tailed Hawk  1
Ringed Kingfisher  1
Belted Kingfisher  1
Golden-fronted Woodpecker (Northern)  2
Ladder-backed Woodpecker  2
American Kestrel  1
Black Phoebe  1
Eastern Phoebe  1
Great Kiskadee  2
Couch's Kingbird  1
Tropical/Couch's Kingbird  2
Tree Swallow  25
Barn Swallow (American)  3
Cliff Swallow (pyrrhonota Group)  8
Carolina Wren (Northeast Mexico/South Texas)  1
European Starling  2
Long-billed Thrasher  2
Northern Mockingbird  2
Clay-colored Thrush  1
House Sparrow  6
Pine Siskin  1
Lesser Goldfinch  3
American Goldfinch  12
Olive Sparrow  1
Lincoln's Sparrow  13    glassed the feeding area and got this count twice
Western/Eastern Meadowlark  1
Hooded Oriole (cucullatus/sennetti)  3
Altamira Oriole  1
Red-winged Blackbird  1200
Bronzed Cowbird (Bronzed)  1
Brown-headed Cowbird  10
Great-tailed Grackle (Great-tailed)  5
Black-and-white Warbler  1
Orange-crowned Warbler  1
Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle)  5
Northern Cardinal  5

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Progreso Lakes, 3/16/21

It's been a great winter for rare birds in the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas but here at Progreso Lakes it's been OK but not fantastic.  I keep waiting for a Blue Bunting or a Crimson-collared Grosbeak but nada so far.  Our best bird this month has been the wintering White-throated Sparrow which has been here since 1/7.

A new bird feeder stocked with black oil sunflower seeds and niger has finally attracted a few American Goldfinches.  This one is getting colored up for summer.  Meanwhile I'm waiting for a Pine Siskin.

It's been a good winter for Cedar Waxwings.

I got poor shots of a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker.  We didn't get one last year.

The month got off to a good start with this Merlin in the plowed cotton field out front.

Hooded Orioles add a spash of color to the yard.  Haven't seen any Altamiras since the freeze.

Finally a flock of twenty Longbilled Dowitchers passed by this morning raising our 2021 total to 127.

We've already had five species this year that we didn't get last year so maybe a run at last year's total of 205 is possible.  I don't know what to expect with all the damage from the freeze.  Maybe there will be fewer birds or maybe there will be lots of hungry ones.