I left home early Sunday morning on the 15th and of course, I forgot my phone and it was just too late to go back, it would sorely be missed. We caught an early flight to Newark, then on to Phoenix, arriving a bit early and got our car in time to arrive at Choke Canyon State Park.
A Northern Jacana had taken up residence here for the past 3 weeks. We only had an hour, I wish we had more, the place was alive with birds. Fulvous Ducks, Least Grebes, Widgeons, Teals, Shoveler’s, Egrets and numerous other species. Spotting scopes were a necessity in finding the Jacana, we soon found the bird but it was a long way off and in the grasses, giving us distant but decent views.
Even with 1500mm the best I could get was a blurry image but I already had a photo from Costa Rica, from a few years ago.
Northern Jacana – ABA Life Bird #712
We left Choke Canyon at dusk, drove the 127 mile to Laredo and after a 19 hour day crashed. A few beers helped to fall asleep.
Next morning at first sun found us driving to Max A. Mandel Municipal Golf Course. it was a short 9 minute drive from our hotel and one of the primo spots to find White-collared Seedeater and White-billed Pigeons. The staff in the pro shop charge $20 to rent golf carts and as long as you stay out of the way of golfers you have 4 miles of paths to search, with about 1+ miles along the river.
Watch where you are putting your feet down, red biting/stinging ants were everywhere.
Roadrunners were everywhere and they were obviously used to people.
We had decided to spend the morning here, then move on to the Salineno feeding station but as noon approached we still hadn’t found either Seedeater or Pigeon. We found that the carrizo cane near the green on hole #9 gave us the best vantage spot. Rick, Richard and I had been standing there for quite some time when we saw movement and the female Seedeater perched up on a bush giving us great views.
White-collared Seedeater – ABA Life Bird #713
Male from Costa Rica
At the golf course Richard picked up an Audubon’s Oriole, it was a new ABA bird for him.
We finally decided it was time to move on and we headed for Salineno. When we arrived Lois and Merle greeted us and put out more seeds and spread out more peanut butter.
As the birds became accustomed to us, sitting there, they started moving in to feed.
Great Kiskadee – check out the bill
Something I’d never seen before a Juvenile Male Redwing
Lois and Merle were nice enough to stay open for a while longer, we thanked them for their hospitality, added money to the seed jar and drove to the Drury Inn and Suites in McAllen.
Next morning after breakfast, first stop was Anzalduas State Park to search for Hook-billed Kite. In the early morning the park was alive with birds, and soon vultures and hawks were lifting off from the trees but except for a 1 second look at a bird that was called out as a kite. there wouldn’t be any kites seen today.
We did however see a Greater Pewee that was being reported.
Juvenile Red-shouldered Hawk
We spent the afternoon at Bentsen Rio State Park searching for the Tropical Parula but it was a no show. We did manage to find a few good birds.
A great overhead view of a White-tailed Kite
White-tailed Hawk to end the day
Another great Texas birding day.
We headed to a spot I knew for Green Parakeet and I was beginning to worry when no birds were showing up, so I drove to a secondary spot. The spot was alive with birds.
My new D7200 camera took the photo below, in the dark. Normal ISO is about 500, the phot below was taken at ISO 25,600. The details are still pretty good, even with all the noise.
Next morning we took a nature walk at Estero Llano Grande State Park with good friend Huck Hutchens. A great day of birding.
American White Pelican
Eastern Screech Owl – McCalli Sub-species
As the tour was wrapping up a guide gave us directions to a Tropical Parula he had found in the park. It wasn’t long before we found the bird. A new photo for my collection.
Leaving Estero we found this lovely Scissor-tailed Flycatcher.
We then headed over to the Aplomado site, both Richard and Rick needed this bird. We drove by and checked all the hydro towers and didn’t see a one. Lots of vultures and hawks but no falcons. We went by this lovely Caracara on the way..
I turned around and went back to the beginning of the area, ending up at the release site on the NWR land and both birds were on their perches.
We were quickly running out of time then we headed to Oliveiro Park in Brownsville to see the parrots coming to their evening roost. They showed up right at dusk, not as many as I remember from my first time. A cool sight for sure.
To bad it gets so dark, its just impossible to get many photos.
Next morning found us back at Anzalduas in search of Hook-billed Kite. Another great morning weather wise but no Kites were flying this morning. There were a number of good warblers, Yellow-throated, Black-throated Grey, Pine, Black & White and Vermillion Flycatchers in all plumages.
Far Off Green Kingfisher
We left that the Rio Grande Valley that morning in the hope of catching the Whooping Cranes that had been reported at Goose Island State Park just that morning.
We gave it our best on that trip and it produced a bunch of great birds for us all.
When we boarded the plane the next morning, happy with our trip results, not knowing 18 hours would go by, with numerous delays, before we landed in Ottawa.
Ciao for now