Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Good Birds at Progreso Lakes, 4/21/21

It's been a weird spring.  Estero Llano Grande State Park, five miles away, has been dripping with passerine migrants while at Progreso Lakes we've had very few.   Then the northerly wind and rain of last weekend's cold front grounded thousands of warblers, buntings and orioles on South Padre Island.  Having seen lots of "fall out" events over the years I stayed home and hoped for good stuff in our yard.  Not much happened.  Then the wind shifted to the south yeasterday and I observed Mississippi Kites dropping into the refuge land to the south last night.  Then another cold front arrived this morning and I was hoping that some of the migrants blown in yesterday might show up in the yard.  After breakfast I started to see Mississippi Kites lifting off and fighting the north wind.  I totalled 210 for the morning.

And amongst those 210 Mississippi Kites was a bird I was hoping for.  Our first Swallow-tailed Kite of the year and the fourth in the four plus years we've lived here.

There were only a few addtional Broad-winged and Swainson's Hawks so I moved to the back yard and watched the Franklin's Gulls take their turn battling the north winds.  I counted 108 but I know I missed some.

I did my usual scoping of the visible shoreline of Moon Lake.  I always peruse the corner with cattails by the irrigation pump, hoping for something good, and today got lucky with only our second Purple Gallinule.  Last year's ran across our back yard.  This one was a little distant.

And then I glimpsed a shorebird up high, strugging against the wind.  I grabbed the camera and fired a few shots.  It was distant and I was lucky the autofocus on my dirty old lens was able to grab it.  Looking at the back of the camera I first thought of Stilt Sandpiper but it sure was pale.  Later while editing the photos I discovered it was a dull male Wilson's Phalarope.  This is the first I've been able to photograph from our yard.  A few years ago I saw a distant flock of small pale shorebirds that I counted as Wilson's Phalaropes but have since then considered the sighting pretty iffy.  The plain gray back, pale underparts, thin straight bill, white rump and not very long legs at point to Wilson's Phalarope.

The Spotted Sandpiper was much more photogenic.

This Yellow-bellied Sapsucker has been around the past four days and calling often.

The only migrant passerines were a few swallows, five Indigo Buntings and one Painted Bunting.  There was not a warbler to be had.

Jones yard, Progreso Lakes, Hidalgo, Texas, US
Apr 21, 2021 8:15 AM - 2:15 PM
Protocol: Stationary
55 species (+3 other taxa)

Black-bellied Whistling-Duck (fulgens)  500
Fulvous Whistling-Duck  2
Muscovy Duck (Domestic type)  3
Mottled Duck (Gulf Coast)  2
Eurasian Collared-Dove  1
Inca Dove  1
White-tipped Dove  2
White-winged Dove  25
Mourning Dove  6
Chimney Swift  10
Ruby-throated Hummingbird  1
Buff-bellied Hummingbird (Northern)  2
American Coot (Red-shielded)  2
Purple Gallinule  1
Wilson's Phalarope  1
Spotted Sandpiper  1
Franklin's Gull  108
Anhinga  1
Neotropic Cormorant  4
Snowy Egret  1
Little Blue Heron  1
Green Heron  3
Black-crowned Night-Heron  1
Turkey Vulture  10
Swallow-tailed Kite  1
Mississippi Kite  210
Cooper's Hawk  1
Harris's Hawk  1
Broad-winged Hawk  2
Swainson's Hawk  10
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker  1
Golden-fronted Woodpecker (Northern)  2
Crested Caracara  3
Black Phoebe  1
Brown-crested Flycatcher  1
Great Kiskadee  1
Tropical Kingbird  2
Couch's Kingbird  1
Tropical/Couch's Kingbird  1
Scissor-tailed Flycatcher  1
Loggerhead Shrike  1
Black-crested Titmouse  1
Northern Rough-winged Swallow  10
Purple Martin  1
Tree Swallow  1
Bank Swallow  2
Barn Swallow (American)  15
swallow sp.  20
European Starling  6
Northern Mockingbird  2
House Sparrow  4
Hooded Oriole (cucullatus/sennetti)  1
Altamira Oriole  1
Red-winged Blackbird  10
Great-tailed Grackle (Great-tailed)  25
Northern Cardinal (Common)  1
Indigo Bunting  5
Painted Bunting  1

Friday, April 2, 2021

1st Lesser Yellowlegs at Progreso Lakes, 4/2/21

There are still quite a few regular migrant passerines I have yet to see in our Progreso Lakes yard.  Yesterday five of them, all warblers, were seen at Estero Llano Grande State Park which is only five miles away.  Birders there managed to find Louisiana Waterthrush and Blue-winged, Kentucky, Worm-eating and Prothonotary Warblers.  So today I thought this is the time to stay put in the yard and let them come to me.  So I waited while good birds were being reported at Estero and out on South Padre Isand and I waited and I waited.......and not much happened except for the regular yard birds coming into the feeding area.  And then I caught sight of a flock of five slim medium sized shorebirds hurtling over the resaca.  I got the camera on them and coaxed it into focusing on them before they disappeared behind the big ash.  I was surprised I actually got three images and even more suprised to see they were my longtime nemesis yard birds, Lesser Yellowlegs.  Lesser Yellowlegs are among the most common migrant and wintering shorebirds in the RGV and somehow I had managed to not see any during the more than four years we've lived at Progreso Lakes.  The photos are not great but the combination of yellow legs extending beyond the tail, the barred tail with white rump and the medium length bill leave no doubt.  Lesser Yellowlegs in the 238th species for our yard.

I saw a small passerine perform a belly splash in our bird bath I suspected it was a vireo.  Turned out to be a Blue-headed Vireo.

Five hours of watching for warblers only turned up a Nashville, an Orange-crowned and three Myrtle Warblers.  And there were precious few migrant raptors.  I was about to call it quits when an afternoon Turkey Vulture drifted over the opposite bank of the resaca.  But something was different about its posture.  It flew with it's head down instead of out at an angle like a normal TV.  As it came closer I could see the yellow cere.  I had my first Zone-tailed Hawk for the year.  The finely barred tail indicates it is an immature bird.  Adults have broad black and white bars.

Well I didn't get any of my warblers but it was still a good day.Tomorrow the wind picks up so I'll probably get some yard work done but I'll keep my eyes open.