Texas 3-Day Blitz – March 20th – 23rd – Gray-crowned Yellowthroat: No Show

Work has been very busy lately and this is the first time I’ve had to update my blog….

I had stalled on going for the Yellowthroat in the hopes that something else would show up in the Rio Grande Valley.

I started to get the Texas itch, when  Chris Feeney emailed photos and Theresa Schwinghammer posted photos of the Yellowthroat on Facebook.  After a brief talk with myself on the pros and cons of going, I chose to chase the Kestrel and Fieldfare on the east coast.

When I returned I should have booked it right away but again I balked.  I had been on way too many trips so far this year.  Sue and I were going to Florida in April,  and I just thought Texas would be too much.

But on March 16th I couldn’t resist any longer and booked a flight into San Antonio on the 20th, returning on the 24th.  I’d blitz for 3 days hitting as many spots as I could but all centered around Westlaco.   This would allow me to go to Estero Grande Llano State Park early, check for the Yellowthroat early in the day, then move on.

Well as luck would have it the Gray-crowned Yellowthroat was not seen again after I booked my flight and I walked out to the spot 3 mornings without luck, disappointment because I need this bird for both my ABA list and my Golden Guide Quest.  I know there will be others in the future, just have to wait.

On the 21st I had booked a trip into the legendary King Ranch, its hard to believe that this is just a section of the ranch.  The area we were in was 240,000 acres and held 90% of the US population of Ferruginous Pygmy-Owls.  The weather did not help it poured rain and according to our guide, he hadn’t seen rain like this in the 14 years he’d been guiding.  We did manage to scare up a few birds but the first bird we saw was the Owl.

ABA Life Bird #689 – Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl


We also saw a lovely group of Impala and a first for me a Nilgai but he didn’t stick around for photos.


A cute little Northern Beardless-Tyrannulet but the rain made photo taking impossible.


Leaving the King Ranch, I figured I’d drive to Highway 100 and Old Port Isabel Road where a pair of Applomado Falcon’s have been hanging out.  As luck would have it the sun came out and I got a few distant views and photos of this bird I’d seen before but never had been able to photograph.  All of the 600 mm of reach I had came in handy that day.


He even came by for a closer look at me later on the trip, I wish the fog had lifted a bit sooner.


The male was protecting his nest, even attacking a Turkey Vulture that got a little to close to his nest.


I figured my last stop this day would be Brownsville for Parrots.  I drove to the area of Oliveira Park (Los Ebanos Road/El Paso Road across from Pace High School), arriving with about 45 minutes of available light.  The are did not disappoint, there were parrots flying every which way.   It took me a few minutes to locate the type I wanted.

ABA Life Bird # 690 – Red-crowned Parrot


This was a long day, I didn’t even eat supper just back to my room and crashed.

On my way down to the Valley from San Antonio I always stop at the feeders and boat launch in Salineno.  On the 20th when I drove down from the airport (my plane was delayed) and I arrived after they closed.  So  on the 22nd, after a morning at Estero Grand Llano I left and drove to Salineno.   I knew that 3 Audubon’s Orioles had been visiting the feeders and I needed this oriole.  It was my last regularly occurring Oriole in the ABA.

ABA Life Bird #691 – Audubon’s Oriole


I had heard from Roy Rodriguez, a local guide for the area that Cassin’s Sparrows had bee seen in the Salineno area on Dump Road but recent rains made this road impassable.  Texas mud is nothing to play with, plugs up your tires and your stuck.  I also heard via a birding report that a small RV Park nearby had produced a few Cassin’s Sparrow’s.  It took a while to find one but I finally had seen my last ABA sparrow.  I had tried for this bird 8 times before without luck always hearing how common they were.

ABA Life Bird #692 – Cassin’s Sparrow


A few more from the day…

Great Kiskadee


Immature Altimira Oriole


Scissor-tailed Flycatcher


Grasshopper Sparrow


Now I just had enough daylight left to race to 5700 North 10th Street, McAllen.  This mall has a large water fountain and birds come in to bath.  I was told that an hour before sunset Green Parakeets can be found.  Just like clockwork in they came.

ABA Life Bird #693 – Green Parakeet


Now I thought there would only a few but as the picture below shows, there were well over 300 birds.


I left early the next morning for Gardner, Texas via South Padre Island.  South Padre is a little out of the way but I had to see what birds were around.  Warbler weren’t many but Northern Parula’s,  Black and Whites,  Orange Crowned and Yellow-rumps could easily be found.

I drove most of that day and arrived at the spot for the Striped Sparrow a 2am.  Had a wonderful sleep in the car and was up at daybreak.  That gave me 2 hours and 15 minutes to hope the sparrow would show up.  I left somewhat disappointed but hey, I gave it my best shot.   That Birding!

Below are some of my better images from the trip….

Buff-bellied Hummingbird


Plain Chachalaca


Northern Rough-winged Swallow


Green Kingfisher


Great-tailed Grackle


Cinnamon Teal – a Real Beauty


Clapper Rail


No Idea, still researching


Same as above


Eastern Screech Owl


Harris Sparrow




Orange-crowned Warbler



Northern Parula


Sandwich Tern




No Idea Researching


No Idea Researching


No Idea Researching


No Idea Researching


Ciao for now…

This entry was posted in Birds, Trips. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.