Thursday, January 26, 2017

When the Birds are Uncooperative...


Well, you can’t have it go your way all the time, and we learned that truth big time today on my third trip to Laredo to see the Amazon Kingfisher, only this time she was a no-show.  Steve and Marion had flown in all the way from California and were hoping she’d still be around (and she was indeed reported two days ago), but she was either hiding up the tributary or had flown the joint (plus we were the only birders there today, so it could be that people are just no longer looking for her).  We started off the day with the requisite grackle/cowbird mob in Alamo, then had several handsome Caracaras on the way to Laredo, in addition to some Harris’ Hawks and one “Fuertes’” Red-tailed Hawk (which led to a discussion about Hollywood using Redtail calls for Bald Eagles… J)!  Marion spotted a Merlin as we passed Kestrel after Kestrel, along with shrikes and a Green Jay I never saw as I was focused on driving!

After stocking up on snacks and chicken legs at a Stripes just outside Laredo, we made it to Dos/Tres Laredos Park (this time without getting lost J) and pulled into a shady spot under the Railroad Bridge.  Unlike the time with Howard and Pat, the Amazon was nowhere to be seen, although we had a pair of Black Phoebes, Neotropic Cormorants, an Osprey, a Spotted Sandpiper, and a Black-crowned Night Heron in the vicinity.  We decided to walk the edge of the river, and a “green type” kingfisher did pop up that got us all excited, but alas, she had white spots in the wings (plus we saw her mate nearby).  A Ringed Kingfisher flew overhead calling that was almost ignored while we were initially trying to get the scope on this Amazon wannabe!  A House Finch flew over that I heard but Marion saw, and commented on how dark it looked; I confirmed that the birds we get are probably the redder Mexican birds.

Spotted Sandpiper along a little ditch

We wandered back to the car, picking up a young Green Heron and Couch’s Kingbird for the day, then decided to take a short walk down the nice caliche road that Pat and I had taken in hopes of kicking up some seedeaters.  A Verdin actually gave pretty good views, and the regular winter visitors fed busily in the tamarisks, but there was nothing unusual amongst them.  In the cane, I did hear the whistle of a seedeater, but it never did want to come out (didn’t even call again), so that was rather disappointing (the only thing that seemed upset at our pishing was a male Cardinal).

The "trail" off Eagle Pass Road

Young Green Heron

Waiting forlornly for the Amazon to show up...

We dragged ourselves back to the car and munched on chicken, and after some discussion decided to take a look at Zecate Creek, even though the chances of the bird being there this time of day (based only on previous reports) were slim, but Griffin’s report of the seedeaters from the trail there moved us onward.  This time we did get turned around trying to find the place J, and part of the problem was that some prankster had turned the street signs at the very intersection we were supposed to turn!  But we eventually got there and first scanned the creek, picking up a pair of Spotted Sandpipers, but that was about it.  We found Griffin’s trail, which was actually very scenic and pleasant:  you were bordered on the right by picturesque limestone rocks, and bordered on the left by woodland, with the cane stands closer to the river!  Being the time of day it was (and 91 degrees out L) we really didn’t get much out of that trail except some good exercise and a kettle of vultures that included a Cooper’s Hawk making dives at them once in a while, but a female Filagree Skimmer closer to the water was very exciting!

Zecate Creek

Marion and Steve scan for the Amazon...

 We find a cryptic female Filagree Skimmer instead!

Scenic trail along the Rio Grande

We reluctantly headed home after that, drowning our sorrows (or at least mine, anyway) with a F’Real!  I was surprised we made it up to 51 species for the day (54 including the three additional ones Marion and Steve saw)!  Bird List:

  “Mexican Duck”                                          
  Pied-billed Grebe                    
  Neotropic Cormorant                  
  Great Blue Heron                     
  Great Egret                          
  Snowy Egret                          
  Green Heron                          
  Black-crowned Night-Heron            
  Black Vulture                        
  Turkey Vulture                        
  Cooper's Hawk                        
  Harris's Hawk                        
  Red-tailed Hawk                      
  American Coot                        
  Spotted Sandpiper                     
  Rock Pigeon                          
  Eurasian Collared-Dove               
  Mourning Dove                        
  Inca Dove                            
  Ringed Kingfisher                    
  Green Kingfisher                      
  Golden-fronted Woodpecker            
  Ladder-backed Woodpecker             
  Crested Caracara                     
  American Kestrel                     
  Black Phoebe                         
  Great Kiskadee                       
  Couch's Kingbird                     
  White-eyed Vireo                     
  Chihuahuan Raven                     
  Northern Rough-winged Swallow        
  Cave Swallow                         
  House Wren                            
  Blue-gray Gnatcatcher                
  Ruby-crowned Kinglet                 
  Northern Mockingbird                 
  European Starling                    
  Orange-crowned Warbler               
  Common Yellowthroat                   
  Yellow-rumped Warbler                
  White-collared Seedeater             
  Lincoln's Sparrow                    
  Northern Cardinal                    
  Western Meadowlark                   
  Great-tailed Grackle                  
  Bronzed Cowbird                      
  House Finch                          
  House Sparrow                        


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