Thursday, October 20, 2022

Good day at South Padre Island, 10/19/22

Yesterday I decided I needed to get out of the yard and over to South Padre Island for some fall migration.  We had our first real cold front of the fall so I was hoping something good may be around.  When I arrived at the Sheepshead lot there was Mary Volz and Agnieska looking at a Palm Warbler.  Well I missed the ones they had this spring so it was a year bird for me.  Later I got some pretty good pictures and even a second Palm Warbler.

Agnieska later said she saw five Palm warblers which is unheard of down here.  I watched the area for a while and got the two in the bath but the other brown warblers I saw on the ground associating with the Palm Warblers were young Yellow-rumped Warblers.

Later Mary and I were watching the small water feature on the east end of the north side.  A young Yellow-rumped was bathing when a wren popped in at the edge of the water.  Expecting a House Wren I was pretty surprised to see the rusty coloration, pale supercilium and short coked up tail.  Holy smokes it was a Winter Wren!

Later I was looking around under the Australian pines and something scurried out from under my feet.  It was the Winter Wren again.  I pished and it flew up on on a fence and I got some better shots.  Winter Wren s spend the winter in the Valley in small numbers.  It's always a treat to see one.

There were a few other migrants around like this Magnolia Warbler who had just grabbed a moth.

Up at the Convention Center there was a fall plumaged Tennessee Warbler.

An Ovenbird searched for food along the water feature.

And there was a late Red-eyed Vireo.

The mystery bird of the day was this strange hummingbird at Sheepshead..  The pale eye brow and dark center to the throat made me want to call it an Anna's Hummingbird.  One wintered here last winter.  But it's not short tailed enough.  It's just a freaky looking Ruby-throated Humming bird in some weird molt.  It looks like the new feathers are emerging before the old ones have been shed.

A few days ago a Plumbeous Vireo was photographed at Sheepshead.  We all looked for it unsuccessfully.  This time of year anything can show up.

Monday, October 17, 2022

Broad-tailed Hummingbird at Progreso Lakes, 10/16/22

It's been a long time since I've posted anything.  I've been enjoying fall migration though it hasn't been a spectaular season.  Hawk migration has been really slow and I guess I've seen only about a dozen species of warblers in our Progreso Lakes yard this fall along with the regular fall migrants.  But nothing has moved me to make a post.  I guess I'm a little jaded after 45 years of birding.

This morning I was sitting on the back porch watching the bird bath and hummingbird feeders.  Our little brush patch is coming alive with fall flowers and I was also watching butterflies.  Well a hummer shows up with buffy/rufous underparts and I'm thinking this is either a young Rufous or Allen's Hummingbird.  About the only way to separate them is to get good photos of the spread tail and sometimes even that is inconclusive.  We don't get very many of these so I got up and got closer to the feeder all the time firing shots at the unidentified Selasphorus.  I got some pretty good shots but no spread tail shots.  I entered the bird on eBird as Rufous/Allen's Hummingbird.

But later as I edited photos, I noticed something I had not seen in the field.  The hummingbird looked like a normal Selasphorus with buffy sides and darker more rufous feathers on the lower belly and undertail coverts, but there were several green feathers on the sides of the breast.  Neither Rufous nor Allen's Hummingbird ever has any green on the breast in any plumage.  But a male Broad-tailed Hummingbird has green sides.  There was also very little rufous on the rectrices which is consistent with Broad-tailed.  The few visible gorget feathers seemed to be rosy rather than the orange/red of Rufous and Allen's Hummingbirds though this can be difficult to determine.  Research on line found photos of immature Broad-tailed Hummingbirds that looked just like mine.

Broad-tailed Hummingbirds summer across the Rocky Mountains.  I often see them in the Davis Mountains or at Big Bend.  They winter in Mexico and migration takes most of them west of the Rio Grande Valley.  But we do get one every few years.  Seems like they are always the difficult to ID females.  This young male Broad-tailed Hummingbird is the 247th species seen in or from our yard.

Broad-tailed Hummingbird is the fifth hummingbird species to be seen in our yard.  It definitely was not one I was expecting.  We don't even have an Anna's yet.