Monday, October 29, 2018

Exploring McAllen Hotspots


For this month’s Birder Patrol trip, Pat made the suggestion to visit a few McAllen eBird hotspots that were not commonly visited.  This time the group consisted of Marilyn, Sue and Billy, Norma, Laura, Betty, and myself, and after meeting outside the Garden Suites at Alamo Inn, we all rolled down a block or two to Pat’s house, where she gave us the tour of her bird-friendly yard (she had reported a Yellow-throated Vireo the day before, so that was certainly tempting J).  About the most exciting thing we had this morning was her resident Chachalaca, but with all her water features, it’s not surprising that she’s attracted such stars as Western Tanager and Crimson-collared Grosbeak in the past!  Some of us did get a brief look at a Clay-colored Thrush, and I think the Ruby-crowned Kinglet was the only one for the day.

Pat (in the pale shirt) welcomes us to her yard!
Bird list for Pat’s place:

(-1) Alamo - Cottage Bird Sanctuary, Hidalgo, Texas, US Oct 27, 2018 8:17 AM - 8:37 AM
Protocol: Stationary
14 species

Plain Chachalaca  1
White-winged Dove  6
Ruby-throated Hummingbird  1
Buff-bellied Hummingbird  2
Golden-fronted Woodpecker  1
Ladder-backed Woodpecker  1
Great Kiskadee  3
Couch's Kingbird  1
Ruby-crowned Kinglet  1
Clay-colored Thrush  1
Northern Mockingbird  2
Lesser Goldfinch  4
Great-tailed Grackle  2
House Sparrow  5

From there we attempted to head to Fireman’s Park in McAllen, only we found ourselves in the middle of a parade route on Cage Avenue in Pharr!  Detours were not well-marked, so we ended up taking an unintentional tour of the little neighborhoods therein before we found a way to the frontage road, and after we finally arrived at the park even lifelong Valley resident Billy admitted he had never driven those streets!  A small Farmer’s Market was in progress along with some kids’ games, but despite having to avoid the cyclists on the sidewalks, we managed three species of egrets side by side, a Belted Kingfisher showing off his “cone head”, and a young Red-shouldered Hawk gazing longingly at something below his pole, all the while being bombed by a Kiskadee!  We checked the Canal Trail but the grass was too high to see anything in there.  After checking out the market (and some of us getting breakfast – they had some very tasty vegan chocolate brownies and “dark chocolate pills”) we headed on.

The gang at Fireman's Park

Great Egret

Young Red-shouldered Hawk

Pat on the "Canal Trail"

Queens feeding in the dewy grass

Bird list for Fireman’s Park:

McAllen--Fireman's Park, Hidalgo, Texas, US Oct 27, 2018 9:09 AM - 10:06 AM
Protocol: Traveling
0.92 mile(s)
24 species (+1 other taxa)

Muscovy Duck (Domestic type)  7
Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon)  21
Inca Dove  2
Mourning Dove  8
American Coot  3
Killdeer  1
Great Egret  1
Snowy Egret  2
Cattle Egret  1
Red-shouldered Hawk  1
Belted Kingfisher  1
Golden-fronted Woodpecker  3
Green Parakeet  1
Eastern Phoebe  1
Great Kiskadee  3
Tropical Kingbird  4
Loggerhead Shrike  2
Northern Rough-winged Swallow  1
Barn Swallow  4
Northern Mockingbird  6
European Starling  3
Bronzed Cowbird  2
Great-tailed Grackle  5
Indigo Bunting  1
House Sparrow  5

What turned out to be the last official stop was Roselawn Cemetery.  We were hoping for some migrants (as South Padre Island had been nuts with migrants lately), but the most interesting thing we had was a couple of “Audubon’s” Warblers in with the expected “Myrtles”, but they were “first of season” for many of us!  We also had a “chink” warbler that we could never refind (was probably a Black-throated Green, but Black-throated Grays are also known to winter there), plus a Catbird that had lost most of his tail!  An adult Cooper’s Hawk went tearing through and landed on a tombstone, along with some folk’s FOS Eastern Phoebe.  Lesser Goldfinches showed well right before we decided to call it a morning.

Views of Roselawn Cemetery

Cooper's Hawk

Chasing warblers

Taking a break

Bird List for Roselawn Cemetery:

McAllen--Roselawn Cemetery, Hidalgo, Texas, US Oct 27, 2018 10:17 AM - 11:26 AM
Protocol: Traveling
0.611 mile(s)
14 species (+1 other taxa)

Cooper's Hawk  2
Golden-fronted Woodpecker  2
Ladder-backed Woodpecker  1
Least Flycatcher  1
Eastern Phoebe  1
Great Kiskadee  6
Black-crested Titmouse  5
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher  2
Gray Catbird  1
Northern Mockingbird  5
Lesser Goldfinch  2
Great-tailed Grackle  5
Black-and-white Warbler 1
Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle)  12
Yellow-rumped Warbler (Audubon's)  2
House Sparrow  2

While the Harlingen contingent continued on to Frontera, the Alamo contingent headed home, with 41 species for the day (if you include the domestic Muscovies…J)  But the action didn’t stop after I got home:  the butterfly garden at the Inn was nuts, with several different species of butters feeding!  Best one was a Red-bordered Pixie, and other notables included Mexican Fritillary and Purple-washed Skipper!

Three shots of a Red-bordered Pixie

Fatal Metalmark (also below)


Mexican Fritillary

Fiery Skipper

Gray Hairstreak


Gulf Fritillary

A Cloudless Sulphur, backlit above and front-lit below

Female Whirlabout

Worn Purple-washed Skipper

Tropical Checkered Skipper

Brown Longtail

Eufala Skipper


  1. Thanks for sharing and great pics. I hope I can figure out how to 'follow' this blog.

    1. You're welcome! Not sure there's a way to "follow" except to check our website periodically ( and click on Blog; I try to publish as least one blog a week!