Sunday, April 5, 2015

That's Why They Call It Birding, and Not Fishing.....

Or, Texas Part Deux....  Since it has been a while since my first post, and almost two months since the trip... time to wrap up the last three days!

We left off with the Victoria Birder being the only member of the group to miss White-collared Seedeater, but tomorrow will be better, right?

The following day found us headed for Santa Ana NWR, in search of a recently reported/relocated Blue Bunting.  We searched high and low for said rarity, but failed to turn it up.  Despite the dipping on this bird, we enjoyed 34 other, more cooperative species, including these Plain Chachalacas.

A Northern Cardinal also added colour to the mix....
After a few hours at Santa Ana we headed up to the Old Hidalgo Pumphouse, where a few rarities had been reported.  Again, we dipped, but did get looks at our only Monk Parakeets and Anhingas of the trip, as well as our first Black Phoebe.  

Following the theme of chasing, our next stop was Edinburg Scenic Wetlands, where recently Brown Thrasher and Winter Wren had been reported.  We circled the area a number of times, coming up empty.  The repetitive pacing was broken up when John called out a Yellow-throated Warbler in a pine!  A great bird, and the first of a few.... next up was a Nashville Warbler, and finally John and I heard the call of a Winter Wren in a tangle.  John got a quick look at the bird, and headed off to find the rest of the group, leaving me to keep tabs on it.  Eventually we all got looks at this nice rarity, a lifer for me, and after a few more fruitless Thrasher circuits, we headed back south.

Northern Mockingbird, Edinburgh Scenic Wetlands
In the weeks prior, Moutain Plovers had been reported from a field West of McCook, and we decided to give it a go.  I have never put in a serious effort for this species, but is sure is one that interests me... a lot.  We pulled up at the field that they had been seen in, and scanned to no avail.  We moved a little further west, and still no birds.  Flock-blocked but not defeated, we started working out way back toward McCook and John and I were scanning a field when, miraculously, he picked out the 6 little shorebirds well in the distance.  Even at maximum zoom, they were little more than moving brown blobs, but darned if they weren`t Mountain Plovers!!!!

They are right... out.... there..... bout a mile or so....
A nice pair of White-tailed Hawks we encountered near McCook
There was one last stop for the day, and that was to revisit McAllen for resident flock of Green Parakeets.  The weather was more favourable on this evening, and after driving around for only a short while, we finally found them congregated around a Wells Fargo branch.  On the wires, on the building, hanging from the building, my lifer Green Parakeet was everywhere!  Though I am not the best at estimating bird numbers, I would guess we had about 225 of them around this one intersection.

Some of our Green Parakeets looked like this.....
Until a hungry Cooper`s Hawk happened to pass by.....
Our last target in the bag, time for dinner, and an early-ish night before heading to Brownsville and South Padre Island the next day!

Two days of birding left, and this found us headed back for the coast, to South Padre Island, with a rarity stop along the way.  For a few days, Resaca de la Palma State Park had been harbouring a couple of rarities, Dusky-capped Flycatcher and Tropical Parula.  Both had been around the parking area, in the vicinity of the Visitor's Centre, so our search area was narrowed nicely.  As far as rarities go, it didn't take long for John to locate a yellow bird flying toward me, which turned into a very nice Tropical Parula, which everyone got looks at!  Not just a lifer, but I always figured Northern Parula would be on my ABA list first!  A couple of hours of searching failed to turn up the flycatcher, but we did get nice looks at White-eyed Vireo, Blue-headed Vireo, and Black-throated Grey Warbler.

Next stop, South Padre Island!  But, of course, there had to be a stop along the way, and this was a stretch of highway near Laguna Vista where we got stunning looks at a pair of Aplomado Falcons!  Despite the constant threat of vehicular death, we admired the birds until they flew off to the south.

Scanning from a couple of beaches failed to turn up the target Northern Gannets, so we instead headed for two boardwalk complexes, the South Padre Island Nature Centre, and the adjoining Convention Centre Boardwalk.  Our first and only Clapper Rail showed nicely, and from there it was a wader bonanza!

An angry looking Great Blue Heron never took its eyes off of us.

A couple of Little Blue Herons kept us entertained

As did this Reddish Egret

And Tricolored Heron.
Among the pictures that didn`t turn out was a Snowy Egret that was very actively feeding, dancing, and flying for us.  Of course, there were other highlights along the two boardwalks, including something non-Avian:

The best picture this Alligator would give up
And the oft heard, seldom stationary Sora.  This one fed out in the open for several minutes, giving us no end to photo op:

Always a delight to see
And what would Texas be without Common Gallinule:

As we were finishing up at the Convention Centre, John got a text that sent us running......

Yup, I said I was gonna finish it off with this post, but it is getting a bit long, so I will wrap it up in a few days....