The next day’s focus was grasspipers (the report of Hudsonian Godwits – aka “Hudwits” – at the Weaver Road Sod Farms was timely), but we first stopped at Tiocano Lake in hopes of bagging King Rail and Fulvous Whistling Duck. Heard plenty of the former, but didn’t see any (not that I expected to, but you never know), but what did come right out in the open was a Least Bittern! Bird numbers in general were down, but had plenty of Black-necked Stilts (including some mating and nesting), plus a target bird for Mike and Sally: several White-faced Ibis! Both night herons flew overhead, and Sally caught sight of a Green Heron. A pair of Gull-billed Terns was flying around and yelling, and some snoozing shorebirds with rusty underparts got my juices going, but they turned out to be dowitchers…
Mike and Sally look for goodies at Tiocano Lake
Bonding Gull-billed Terns
From there we went to the turf farms, entering from the north, where Mike finally got a decent look (and photo) of a Horned Lark! Continuing down the road we hit the jackpot: lots of Pectoral and Buff-breasted Sandpipers were very close to the road, along with several American Golden Plovers! Some Baird’s Sandpipers were further out, along with some more dowitchers we were trying hard to turn into Hudwits… J Ran into Mike Delasantro and his friend, plus another carload of birders, so word had gotten out, but no Hudwits were to be found… We headed straight on the dirt road to US 281, picking up a few woodland birds going through the NWR tract, the best one being a Groove-billed Ani that showed well! We tried valiantly to get our sights on a vocalizing Lesser Goldfinch, but to no avail… But in the plowed field before the highway eagle-eyed Sally spotted several Upland Sandpipers, which meant we bagged all the expected “grasspipers”! (Technically, the Hudwits, along with the White-rumped Sandpipers, aren’t supposed to arrive until May…)
Horned Lark (watching the skies below)
Several Buff-breasted Sandpiper shots
With a Lesser Yellowlegs
With a Killdeer
With an American Golden Plover
Golden Plover by itself
A few Pectoral Sandpiper shots, showing the sharp demarcation between the chest and belly
This odd dragonfly that got trapped in the car turned out to be a young Band-winged Dragonlet, of which there were tons of adults buzzing around!
From there we swung up to the “Rangerville Resaca” where there were more dowitchers and Stilt Sandpipers, but Sally spotted some “lovely waders” she didn’t recognize – they were the coveted Wilson’s Phalaropes! And what views, and fairly close to the road at that! A brilliant male Hooded Oriole came shooting into a palm tree, and in the Ebony Resaca we picked up Ruddy Duck and Least Grebes for the day. On the way out we had three more Uppies right by the road!
The "lovely" Wilson's Phalarope!
Resaca at the Ebony Unit of the Las Palomas WMA
We hit the Subway again, then headed for Boca Chica, where we planned to go straight to the beach but were waylaid by a couple of white morph Reddish Egrets in the lagoon, along with tons of other shorebirds, including Avocet, Dunlin, and Semipalmated Sandpiper for the day. On the beach Mike got great photo ops of turnstones, Sanderlings, and Least Terns, but the real prize was a “smart” (as the Brits would say J) Piping Plover! On the way out we had a nice Black-bellied as well, and heading back towards the highway an Osprey showed up where the Reddish Egrets had been; the white ones were way out there, but a young dark morph pranced around for us.
At Boca Chica you can actually drive on the beach, making it easy to approach the birds!
Look hard for the Laughing Gull that Mike and Sally are shooting!
(In case you can't see him in the above picture...)
Ruddy Turnstone still in non-breeding plumage
Most of them are coming into nice breeding plumage, however!
Doing the two-step...
Called it quits after that, with 89 species for the day. Bird List:
Black-bellied Whistling-DuckMottled Duck
Great Blue Heron
Little Blue Heron