Tuesday, September 26, 2017

The Birder Patrol Raids a Harlingen Yard


After gathering at the La Feria Whataburger (a popular place for some of the crew to have breakfast J), four cars full of eager birders made their way over to Donna McCown’s place in Harlingen, known for her big back yard and multiple feeders and water features!  We had just pulled in when several orioles attacked her jelly feeder in the front yard (I only got a look at a Hooded…)!  We shortly migrated to her big back yard, where a Long-billed Curlew sailed in and landed in her neighbor’s yard, and a Dickcissel flew over, which was a yard bird for Donna!  A small flock of four Red-crowned Parrots flew over, and from the comfort of her back porch we enjoyed Green Jays, Lesser Goldfinches, and hummingbirds while the ladies talked feeder construction! J

We're not even out of the cars before birds start showing up!

White-winged Dove

Eastern Cottontail (token mammal)

The gang dutifully admiring the back yard...

...and the porch feeders! 

Sue keeps track of the sightings via her eBird app while our hostess Donna looks on (with Pat and Alan in the background). 

Green Jay grabs a prize!

Lesser Goldfinch at the drip

Donna told us about a road with some cottonwoods and dead palm trees that often had parrots and Gray Hawks, so we headed over there next; we at least heard the hawk, but the palms looked like they had been taken over by woodpeckers.  From there we headed on up to Sugarhouse Pond, which was way down from the last time I was there!  Was still good shorebird habitat, though, with several Avocets, peeps, and even some Wilson’s Phalaropes (couldn’t find the Red-necked, though)!  Black-bellied and Semipalmated Plovers were nice surprises as well.

There's Gray Hawks in them thar trees!

Overlooking Sugarhouse Pond

Pat, Baceliza, Betty (in back), and Stephanie

Pat and Norma scan for goodies

...and the goodies are way out there!

Avocets plough through the water

From there we decided to see if Valley Acres Reservoir was open; they welcome birders if you ask permission first, so we called, the gate was open, and we headed on in!  This is a huge reservoir with lots of birds:  first to greet us was a ballet of White Pelicans!  In the canal heading up to the dike was a young Yellow-crowned Night Heron, and on the island across the way were also tons of Black-bellied Whistling Ducks, Blue-winged Teal, and Neotropic Cormorants.  Some beautiful Roseate Spoonbills were sprinkled here and there, and we caught sight of a couple of Wood Storks sailing in, but the best bird was a cute little Snowy Plover on the sand!  While most of the crew threw in the towel about that time, four of us decided to pile in Alan and Baceliza’s vehicle and take the drive all around the lake!  That was great fun:  we got a little closer to some of the shorebirds, including one that looked suspiciously like a Baird’s Sandpiper.  A Cooper’s Hawk exploded from the trees at one point, and three White-tailed Kites sailed overhead!  Coming around to the back side of that island revealed many more Wood Storks, and along the return leg we flushed several Black-crowned Night Herons.  We managed to get closer to our Snowy Plover coming back, but we didn’t linger as it was hot and getting late.  It was about a three-to-four mile loop on a good road (although grassy in spots; might be dicey when wet).

Canal at Valley Acres

The Island, loaded with pelicans and ducks!

Roseate Spoonbills

White Pelicans

Wood Storks and whistling ducks

Cute little Snowy Plover, with only a few breeding areas known in Hidalgo County!

We all went our separate ways after that, logging 60 species for the morning.  Bird List:

  Black-bellied Whistling-Duck         
  Mottled Duck                         
  Blue-winged Teal                     
  Wood Stork                           
  Neotropic Cormorant                  
  American White Pelican               
  Great Blue Heron                      
  Great Egret                          
  Snowy Egret                          
  Cattle Egret                         
  Black-crowned Night-Heron            
  Yellow-crowned Night-Heron           
  Roseate Spoonbill                    
  Turkey Vulture                       
  White-tailed Kite                    
  Cooper's Hawk                        
  Gray Hawk                            
  Swainson's Hawk                      
  Black-necked Stilt                   
  American Avocet                      
  Black-bellied Plover                 
  Snowy Plover                         
  Semipalmated Plover                  
  Spotted Sandpiper                     
  Long-billed Curlew                   
  Stilt Sandpiper                      
  Baird's Sandpiper                    
  Least Sandpiper                      
  Semipalmated Sandpiper               
  Western Sandpiper                     
  Long-billed Dowitcher                
  Wilson's Phalarope                   
  Laughing Gull                        
  White-winged Dove                    
  Mourning Dove                        
  Chimney Swift                        
  Ruby-throated Hummingbird            
  Buff-bellied Hummingbird             
  Golden-fronted Woodpecker            
  Ladder-backed Woodpecker             
  Red-crowned Parrot                   
  Scissor-tailed Flycatcher            
  Loggerhead Shrike                    
  Green Jay                            
  Horned Lark                          
  Barn Swallow                         
  Curve-billed Thrasher                
  Northern Mockingbird                 
  European Starling                    
  Yellow Warbler                       
  Northern Cardinal                    
  Red-winged Blackbird                 
  Great-tailed Grackle                 
  Bronzed Cowbird                       
  Hooded Oriole                        
  Baltimore Oriole                     
  Lesser Goldfinch                     
  House Sparrow                        


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