A Mad Dash to Texas and Florida

It never fails rare birds always show up just as I start my shift and disappear when I approach my days off.

In early January a Rose-throated Becard was being seen at Estero Grande Park, Texas, in Florida there was a Western Spindalis and a Bananaquit.  So in mid January I booked a flight to Texas for 4 days and then on to Florida for another 4 days.

I asked Sue if she wanted to go with me but because of a conflict at work she could only join me for the Florida leg of the trip.

On February 4th I left for on a milk run, crazy 4 stop, flight to San Antonio.  Arriving at 2:30pm I figure I had enough time to go to Refugio and hopefully get the Gold-crowned Warbler (not a life bird but wanted it for my year list).   Arriving at 5:15pm I got a partial look before it got too dark and then followed a 3 hour drive to McAllen. I did find a very obliging Barred Owl in the park.

barredowl2017

I was up early, had breakfast,  then headed over to Estaro Llano Grande State Park and began  my morning looking for the Becard.  There were many great birds but the Becard was a no show for 3 days.

Cinnamon Teal

cinnamonteal2017

Least Grebe

leastgrebe2017b

leastgrebe2017

Grapefruits didn’t only attract Birds

hornet2017a

Altamira Oriole

altimiraoriole2017

Common Pauraque

commonparauque2017

I met up with a friend Huck Hutchens and He was going to search for sparrows, that afternoon.  Since there wasn’t much happening at the park, I decide to join him.  Was a fun but slow afternoon (the general theme for my 4 days in Texas, SLOW)

Loggerhead Shrike

loggerheadshrike2017

The next morning I planned to go to the NBA (National Butterfly Centre) and Bentsen Rio State Park, to see what butterflies and birds were in the area.  It also was close enough to Estero that if the Becard was spotted I could get over there quickly.

There were plenty of butterflies at the NBA but birds again were slow.

Cardinal

cardinal2017

Lyside Sulphur

lysidesulphur2017b

Brown Longtail

brownlongtail2017

Fatal Metalmark

fatalmetalmark2017

Large Orange Sulphur

largeorangesulphur2017

American Snout

americansnout2017b

Laviana White Skipper

livianawhiteskipper2017

Texas Crescent

texascrescent2017

Lyside Sulphur

lysidesulphur2017

Black Swallowtail

blackswallowtail2017

Crimson Patch

crimsonpatch2017

White-striped Longtail

whitestripedlongtail2017

Not sure?

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Eastern Screech Owl

easternscreechowl2017

Mating Queen Butterflies

queenbutterfliesmating2017

Sharp-shinned Hawk

sharpshinnedhawkprofile2017

Red Eared Slider

redearedslider2017

I spent 5 hours there, spending at least two hours up on the levee scanning for Hook-billed Kites, then I  headed over to Bentsen Rio’s hawk watch tower and spent another hour on the tower scanning for anything without luck.  On the way out I stopped at a few of the feeding stations.

Javalina

javalina2017

Green Jay

greenjay2017

Golden-fronted Woodpecker

goldenfrontedwoodpecker2017

Kiskadee

greatkiskadee2017

Next morning I went to Anzalduas Park for a quick hour and then it was time to head back up north back to Refugio and on to San Antonio.  While none of my target birds were very obliging, a few of the locals did appear for the camera.

Turkey Vulture

turkeyvulture2017

Crested Caracara

crestedcaracara2017

Redhead Duck

redhead2017

Reddish Egret

reddishegret2017

Willet

willet2017

Black Skimmer

blackskimmer2017-2

Caspian Tern

caspianternnonbreeding2017

Monk Parakeet

monkparakeet2017

Quite an disappointing trip to Texas but was great meeting up with Huck Hutchens for a afternoon of sparrow hunting.

It was time to meet up with Sue in Florida but the weather had other plans, an ice storm cancelled flights from Ottawa.  I arrived at 11am and found out that Sue wouldn’t arrive until 6pm.  You gotta love Air Canada.

Since I had some time to kill, I drove to nearby Bass Pro Shop and bought a pair of knee high boots I’d need for my next days trek through the Everglades in search of the Cape Sable Sparrow.

I left the next morning at 5, meeting up with Larry Manfredi in Homestead at 6:30.  After a quick coffee off we went.

The Cape Sable Seaside Sparrow (Ammodramus maritimus mirabilis) is a subspecies og the Seaside Sparrow a bird endemic to southern Florida.  In my Golden Guide 1966 edition it was considered a species and therefore I needed this bird for my book.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve tried for the Cape Sable Sparrow without success so I decided I needed help on this bird.  I contacted Larry Manfredi one of the best Florida Guides out there, fun to be with and he knows his birds.

Check out his website:  http://www.southfloridabirding.com/

I knew the spot well where you could find the birds but snakes and alligators will put a damper on going off road, alone.  Larry led the way saying that he could hear the birds ahead. I couldn’t hear a damn thing but I had faith.  Within minutes we were watching 3 sparrows in the grasses.

Cape Sable Sparrow  (#682 of 706)

capesablesparrow

My photos would have been a lot better but that morning there was a heavy fog and I upped my ISO when getting out of the car and forgot about it when the birds showed up in front of me.

We had a good but long day, with many good birds.

Bannanaquit – ABA Life bird #721

bananaquit2016b

The Western Spindalis was a no show at Crandon Park but while waiting a few good birds were found.

peacock2017

Spot-breasted Oriole

spotbreastedoriole2017

Black Racer a 1st for me..

blackracer2017

Great Crested Flycatcher

greatcrestedflycatcher2017

Prairie Warbler

prairiewarbler2017

Palm Warbler

palmwarbler2016

Egyptian Goose

egyptiangooseheadimage2017

Sue and I returned to Crandon Park a few more times over the next few days, seeing lots of good birds but the Spindalis was nowhere to be seen.

Laughing Gull

laughinggullbreediing2017

Least Sandpiper

leastsandpipernonbreeding2017

Semi-palmated Plover

semipalmatedploverwinter20162

Piping Plover

pipingploverwinter20172

Tri-colored Heron

tri-coloredheron2107

Common Gallinule

commongallinule2017

Royal Tern

royaltern2017

Ruddy Turnstone

ruddyturnstonewinter2017

Lesser Black-backed Gull

lesserblackbackedgullbreeding2017

It was a great 4 days with Sue, good food and a few drinks…just good getting away.

img_55541

Ciao for now…

 

 

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One Response to A Mad Dash to Texas and Florida

  1. Antonia Gosson says:

    Great pictures Paul.

    Sent from Yahoo Mail on Android

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