Saturday, August 27, 2016

Birder Patrol Trip to Boca Chica


About a dozen people gathered to take a cruise down Boca Chica Boulevard for some coastal plain and beach specialties!  Norma led the way out of Stripes on Ruben Torres, but at the road construction we lost the two lead cars, and Pat and I followed by Alan and Baceliza ended up following a pickup going east and eventually down a little dirt road called Medford that had a great little wetland that was stuffed with stuff, including a Wood Stork!  Someone got on the horn and had the other two cars come over, and as it turned out, this was the little spot that Alicia had wanted us to stop at on the way!  Several kinds of herons and shorebirds fed, including all three common peeps, lots of juvenile Common Gallinules, a young Gull-billed Tern, and our only Wilson's Phalaropes of the day!  In the songbird department we had Loggerhead Shrike, Tropical Kingbird, a Curve-billed Thrasher, and a singing Carolina Wren, while a Ringed Kingfisher flew overhead

Waders along Medford Road

Great Egrets, Wood Stork, and Great Blue Herons

Gang trying to see the birds through the fence...

On we went, and I encouraged Norma to lead again as she and Alicia are the better spotters! :-)  We stopped at the hacking station just past the Border Patrol checkpoint, but unfortunately had no Aplomado Falcons; in fact, it was rather quiet at that stop.

So on we went to the viewing platform in the National Wildlife Refuge, where quite a few things were singing but very little showed themselves:  Botteri's Sparrows, a Roadrunner, White-eyed Vireos, Bewick's Wrens, and Verdin were all present but uncooperative.  An empid of some kind did pop up, but we couldn't tell which at that distance (except that it wasn't a Yellow-bellied).

Heading down the dirt road we had a large flock of White-faced Ibis fly overhead, plus lots of Eastern Meadowlarks flushing.  Both Barn and Cliff Swallows fed low over a little marsh, and an Upland Sandpiper flew overhead unseen.  Turning the corner into the thornscrub, I drove around the next corner to take a "break" where a Roadrunner was standing in the middle of the road and a family of Groove-billed Anis flew across!  Heading back to the gang Norma put out her hand to indicate that they had something, and as I walked up, they thought they had a Yellow-green Vireo!  Most of us never saw the bird, but they felt confident about the ID based on what they saw.  A couple of Yellow Warblers showed up across the road, and a sharp pit alerted us to the presence of an Alder Flycatcher, which soon popped up for all to see!  Thankfully another family of anis crossed the road, so everyone got to see them.  On the way out a beautiful Eastern Kingbird posed, and a White-tailed Hawk flew by in the distance.

Eastern Kingbird (also below)

From there we headed to "Dan's Road," but not before stopping for a load of shorebirds (in the sun of course), where we managed to pick out a couple of Snowy Plovers along with a Semipalmated, several dowitchers, some Reddish Egrets, and a couple of Horned Larks.  Heading down Dan's Road to the river we picked up a squealing Royal Tern and a Neotropic Cormorant for the day along with a Spotted Sandpiper, and since Dan had reported Seaside Sparrows last month down the "bad" part of the road (which at the moment actually looked pretty good), we decided to brave it and head down!  There was quite the hump to get over at one point, and we marveled later at the fact that Marilyn was able to get her Toyota Sierra over it, but we discovered later that she had found another route in... ;-)  We found the mangroves, but no sparrows; I think we had a Long-billed Curlew in here, and Pat spotted a nighthawk snoozing on a branch while Norma spotted a female Belted Kingfisher that the rest of us missed, but that was about it.

"Dan's Road"

The gang looks for Seaside Sparrows

Bumping back out we finally made it down to the beach, where only Pat and I in "Heppy" (my new Forrster) and Alan and Baceliza followed almost down to the mouth of the river (some had to go home, and Norma and her crew wanted to look for sea beans).  It was actually quite productive, with lots of Sanderlings, Ruddy Turnstones, Piping Plovers, a couple of Wilson's, and the real prize - four American Oystercatchers!  On the way back we scared up a Ghost Crab that was a big hit, along with a couple of juvenile Least Terns. 

Wilson's Plover

American Oystercatchers

Ghost Crab

Photo op...

Piping Plover

Black-bellied Plover

We called it a day after that, having much better looks at all the Harris' Hawks we had passed on the way down!  Bird List:

  Black-bellied Whistling-Duck         
  Blue-winged Teal                      
  Northern Bobwhite                    
  Pied-billed Grebe                    
  Wood Stork                           
  Neotropic Cormorant                  
  Brown Pelican                        
  Great Blue Heron                     
  Great Egret                          
  Snowy Egret                          
  Little Blue Heron                    
  Tricolored Heron                     
  Reddish Egret                        
  White Ibis                           
  White-faced Ibis                      
  Turkey Vulture                       
  Harris's Hawk                        
  White-tailed Hawk                    
  Common Gallinule                     
  American Coot                        
  Black-necked Stilt                   
  American Oystercatcher               
  Black-bellied Plover                 
  Snowy Plover                         
  Wilson's Plover                      
  Semipalmated Plover                  
  Piping Plover                        
  Spotted Sandpiper                    
  Greater Yellowlegs                   
  Lesser Yellowlegs                     
  Upland Sandpiper                     
  Long-billed Curlew                   
  Ruddy Turnstone                      
  Least Sandpiper                      
  Semipalmated Sandpiper               
  Western Sandpiper                    
  Short-billed Dowitcher               
  Wilson's Phalarope                   
  Laughing Gull                        
  Ring-billed Gull                     
  Least Tern                           
  Gull-billed Tern                     
  Royal Tern                           
  Eurasian Collared-Dove               
  Mourning Dove                        
  Common Ground-Dove                    
  Yellow-billed Cuckoo                 
  Greater Roadrunner                   
  Groove-billed Ani                    
  Common Nighthawk                      
  Ringed Kingfisher 
  [Belted Kingfisher]                   
  Golden-fronted Woodpecker            
  Crested Caracara                     
  Alder Flycatcher                     
  Brown-crested Flycatcher             
  Great Kiskadee                       
  Tropical Kingbird                    
  Eastern Kingbird                     
  Loggerhead Shrike                    
  White-eyed Vireo 
  [Yellow-green Vireo]                    
  Horned Lark                          
  Barn Swallow                         
  Cliff Swallow                         
  Carolina Wren                        
  Bewick's Wren                        
  Curve-billed Thrasher                
  Long-billed Thrasher                 
  Northern Mockingbird                 
  European Starling                    
  Yellow Warbler                        
  Botteri's Sparrow                    
  Northern Cardinal                    
  Blue Grosbeak                        
  Red-winged Blackbird                 
  Eastern Meadowlark                   
  Great-tailed Grackle                 
  Bronzed Cowbird                      
  Lesser Goldfinch                     
  House Sparrow                        

84 Species

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