Friday, March 10, 2017

A Tale of Two Hoosiers, Part 1


Chuck and David were two birding buddies from Indiana – Chuck was a member of the Birding “700 Club”, but David was still working on his list, and this was his first trip to Texas, so it’s always fun showing people their first birds!

Chuck was not opposed to the possibility of adding a few birds to his Texas list, either, so we started at Estero Llano Grande SP to try for the Rose-throated Becard.  We were able to log Clay-colored Thrush early on, but as with what happened with Porter and Katchy, the silly little Beardless Tyrannulet decided to sound off, so we must have spent at least an hour letting him lead us all over the Tropical Zone trying to pin him down!  In the meantime we did get great looks at both Buff-bellied and Black-chinned Hummers, and titmice and kinglets came in to pishing instead of the tyrannulet.  We finally gave up and headed to the feeders so that David could “tick” Chachalacas and White-tipped Doves (Chuck insisted he had to say, “Yee-haw!” with each lifer since we were in Texas, but David settled for “Cha-ching!” J).  A Curve-billed Thrasher met us at the bench, but nothing else exciting. 

Curve-billed Thrasher

David's life White-tipped Dove

David's life Chachalacas waiting for breakfast...

After awhile we circled around Ben Basham’s place, where David spotted his life Altamira Oriole (albeit a young bird)!  Once out on the main road in a dead tree, what should pop up but the becard!  He gave great looks, and several other folks were able to get on him as well before he flew south to the next batch of trees.  Huck showed up about then, and identified the big tree the guys had a question about as a Banyan Tree.  We once again took up the Wild Tyrannulet Chase as he led us around the TZ for another hour, but we finally gave up (Chuck got a glimpse of the thing taking off) and headed for the main part of the park.

The Rose-throated Becard showing his back side...

...and finally his front side!

L-R:  Chuck, David, two Unknown Birders, and Huck

After checking in and checking Ibis Pond (where a Vermilion Flycatcher showed off across the way), we headed straight out to Alligator Lake.  Some gorgeous Cinnamon Teal were in Dowitcher Pond, and Grebe Marsh still had the Least Grebes along with one of the big Alligators.  One lady told us they had a Green Kingfisher at Alligator Lake, and sure enough, when we got there, Chuck was able to find him fairly quickly on the opposite bank!  (“Cha-ching!” J)  The night herons were virtually ignored as we then tried to zero in on a singing Long-billed Thrasher that was visible but silhouetted.  An Anhinga flew by over the horizon, which was always nice to see.

Cinnamon Teal

The guys at Grebe Marsh

Next order of business was the Pauraque, but neither bird were in their regular spot!  Some of the stick barrier suspiciously looked as though it had been pressed down, and several of us worried that someone had tried to get too close to the birds and had spooked them deeper into the undergrowth.  We scoured that whole “circle” (and even some of the area closer to the overlook), but couldn’t locate one; Huck even caught up with us again and vainly tried to locate a bird that had been hanging in that area.  But a big consolation prize was the “McCall’s” Screech Owl that finally decided to sit in his hole in his box! 

"McCall's" Screech Owl giving us a dirty look...

Headed on back to the parking lot and decided to try for the Burrowing Owl and Prairie Falcon in the fields north of Santa Ana NWR (but not before making a McDonald’s stop J), but first we swung by the Progresso Silos when David revealed that Bronzed Cowbird would be a life bird!  The cowbird was tough (actually, Brown-headed was a lifer, too, and that was a tad easier), but we finally found a bird huddled next to one of the silos.  What was really cool, though, were all the dapper Yellow-headed Blackbirds in with the Redwings!  They really showed well!  A young Harris’ Hawk had us confused for a minute as it was showing pale wing panels, but the white tail base gave it away.

Yellow-headed Blackbirds can sometimes be tough to get in the Valley, but the Progresso Silos are always a good place to look!

Heading on to the fields, we dipped on both the owl and the falcon (except for a couple of Kestrels), but picked up Loggerhead Shrike and Horned Lark for the day at least.  We were headed to Hidalgo for the Monk Parakeets when David admitted he wasn’t feeling very well, so after a stop at the truck stop near the Pharr bridge we made a quick run over to log the parakeets, and then headed home.  After dropping David off, Chuck and I zipped over to Donna Reservoir, but with the wind kicking up the way it was, we didn’t expect much, but did have a big raft of Lesser Scaup and several nice looks at Neotropic Cormorants, along with a distant Osprey.

Small part of the large Lesser Scaup raft

Neotropic Cormorant (above and below)

We called it a day after that, but still managed 70 species!  Bird list:

  Mottled Duck                         
  Blue-winged Teal                     
  Cinnamon Teal                        
  Northern Shoveler                    
  Green-winged Teal                    
  Lesser Scaup                          
  Plain Chachalaca                     
  Least Grebe                          
  Neotropic Cormorant                  
  Great Blue Heron                     
  Great Egret                          
  Snowy Egret                          
  Little Blue Heron                    
  Black-crowned Night-Heron            
  Yellow-crowned Night-Heron           
  White Ibis                           
  White-faced Ibis                     
  Turkey Vulture                       
  Harris's Hawk                        
  Common Gallinule                     
  American Coot                        
  Spotted Sandpiper                    
  Least Sandpiper                      
  Rock Pigeon                          
  White-winged Dove                    
  Mourning Dove                        
  White-tipped Dove                     
  Eastern Screech-Owl                  
  Black-chinned Hummingbird            
  Buff-bellied Hummingbird             
  Green Kingfisher                     
  Golden-fronted Woodpecker            
  Ladder-backed Woodpecker             
  American Kestrel                     
  Monk Parakeet                        
  Northern Beardless-Tyrannulet        
  Vermilion Flycatcher                 
  Great Kiskadee                       
  Couch's Kingbird                     
  Rose-throated Becard                 
  Loggerhead Shrike                    
  Green Jay                            
  Horned Lark                          
  Tree Swallow                         
  Black-crested Titmouse               
  House Wren                           
  Carolina Wren                        
  Blue-gray Gnatcatcher                
  Ruby-crowned Kinglet                 
  Clay-colored Thrush                  
  Curve-billed Thrasher                
  Long-billed Thrasher                 
  Northern Mockingbird                 
  European Starling                    
  Orange-crowned Warbler               
  Common Yellowthroat                  
  Olive Sparrow                        
  Northern Cardinal                     
  Red-winged Blackbird                 
  Yellow-headed Blackbird              
  Great-tailed Grackle                 
  Bronzed Cowbird                      
  Brown-headed Cowbird                 
  Altamira Oriole                      
  Lesser Goldfinch                     
  House Sparrow                        


No comments:

Post a Comment