Friday, December 2, 2016

Easy Birder Tour Around Hidalgo


Took visiting birders Dick and Mako from the UK out birding yesterday to pick up some South Texas targets; we started by driving the levee between Bentsen and Anzalduas, where the best bird was a very cooperative Gray Hawk!  Blue-gray Gnatcatcher and Orange-crowned Warbler was also new, but the House Wren was being stubborn…  After Anzalduas opened we cruised around there, picking up brilliant Eastern Bluebirds and Vermilion Flycatchers, along with a tittering Tropical Kingbird and peeping Black Phoebe.  By the river had nice looks at a Neotropic Cormorant and Mottled Ducks while a Ringed Kingfisher rattled well but only gave fleeting looks.  The crop-dusters were done so we finished up by scouring the field for Sprague’s Pipits; several popped up and called, but wouldn’t land and give us a look.  Both kinds of meadowlarks showed, however.

Mako and Dick check out the Rio Grande at Anzalduas County Park

Vermilion Flycatcher being adorable...

We swung by Hidalgo for the Monk Parakeets and some back roads in Alamo for Burrowing Owl and American Pipits (doing the same thing the Sprague’s did L), and several White-tailed Hawks were very cooperative for photos!  We then headed over to Frontera where things were a little more cooperative for looks:  a show-off Green Kingfisher got lunch from the boardwalk railing while a group of White Ibis fed in the shadows.  An Altamira Oriole called but only allowed a fleeting glimpse for Mako, but at the feeder areas we got great looks at Chachalacas, White-tipped Dove, Green Jay, Black-crested Titmouse, and a Buff-bellied Hummingbird (along with the fat resident Fox Squirrel…).

Goose-stepping Monk Parakeet

With nesting material

Probably the same Burrowing Owl we had with Gary and Sons, only is a little different pose (notice the furry feet)...

Young White-tailed Hawk giving us the looking-over

Green Kingfisher on the boardwalk at Frontera

Dick getting his own shot (yellow circle marks the spot)

At Estero Ranger John arranged for us to take a tram as one of our guests had limited mobility, and after getting our fill of the many great ducks and grebes off the deck (including a pair of Cinnamon Teal), we headed back to the Tropical Zone where we looked in vain for the Perching Saliana (probably got blown south), then headed over to the levee where we saw lots of goodies, including oodles of Stilt Sandpipers and Long-billed Dowitchers hanging out, as well as Black-necked Stilts, Avocets, Spoonbills, gobs of White Pelicans, and a mob of Black-bellied Whistling Ducks.  A nice Ringed Kingfisher perched for everyone, but the star was a hovering White-tailed Kite right in front of us!  A swing around Dowitcher Pond produced two female Buffleheads in addition to more Cinnamon Teal and other ducks, and finally back at Alligator Lake we nabbed the Yellow-crowned Night Heron and Pauraque (John was making a statement about how “difficult” it was to get ;-)).

Cassius Blue in Estero's parking lot

Mako and Dick check out Ducks from the Deck...

Cinnamon Teal pair

The male isn't quite fully cinnamon yet...

Snowy Egret shuffling for breakfast

Notice the contrast between the orange toes and gray webs on this Blue-winged Teal!

Mako and Dick smile from the tram while Ranger John hides behind it...

Yellow-crowned Night Heron

The "difficult" Pauraque (which always seems to be right by the trail)

We had to head home after that, but it was a very fun and successful 90-species day!  Bird list:

  Black-bellied Whistling-Duck         
  Mottled Duck                         
  Blue-winged Teal                     
  Cinnamon Teal                        
  Northern Shoveler                     
  Northern Pintail                     
  Green-winged Teal                    
  Ruddy Duck                           
  Plain Chachalaca                      
  Least Grebe                          
  Pied-billed Grebe                    
  Neotropic Cormorant                  
  Double-crested Cormorant              
  American White Pelican               
  Great Blue Heron                     
  Great Egret                          
  Snowy Egret                          
  Little Blue Heron                    
  Tricolored Heron                     
  Cattle Egret                         
  Black-crowned Night-Heron            
  Yellow-crowned Night-Heron           
  White Ibis                           
  White-faced Ibis                     
  Roseate Spoonbill                    
  Black Vulture                        
  Turkey Vulture                       
  White-tailed Kite                    
  Harris's Hawk                        
  White-tailed Hawk                     
  Gray Hawk                            
  Red-tailed Hawk                      
  American Coot                        
  Black-necked Stilt                   
  American Avocet                      
  Spotted Sandpiper                    
  Stilt Sandpiper                      
  Long-billed Dowitcher                
  Caspian Tern                         
  Rock Pigeon                          
  Eurasian Collared-Dove               
  White-winged Dove                    
  Mourning Dove                        
  Inca Dove                            
  White-tipped Dove                    
  Burrowing Owl                         
  Common Pauraque                      
  Buff-bellied Hummingbird             
  Ringed Kingfisher                    
  Belted Kingfisher                    
  Green Kingfisher                     
  Golden-fronted Woodpecker            
  Ladder-backed Woodpecker             
  Crested Caracara                     
  American Kestrel                     
  Monk Parakeet                        
  Black Phoebe                         
  Eastern Phoebe                        
  Vermilion Flycatcher                 
  Great Kiskadee                       
  Tropical Kingbird                    
  Loggerhead Shrike                    
  Green Jay                            
  Horned Lark                          
  Tree Swallow                         
  Black-crested Titmouse               
  House Wren                           
  Carolina Wren                        
  Blue-gray Gnatcatcher                
  Ruby-crowned Kinglet                 
  Eastern Bluebird                      
  Long-billed Thrasher                 
  Northern Mockingbird                 
  European Starling                    
  American Pipit                       
  Sprague's Pipit                      
  Orange-crowned Warbler               
  Common Yellowthroat                  
  Yellow-rumped Warbler                
  Northern Cardinal                    
  Red-winged Blackbird                 
  Eastern Meadowlark                   
  Western Meadowlark                   
  Great-tailed Grackle                 
  Altamira Oriole                      
  House Sparrow                        

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