Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Alamo Inn Spring Tour, Part 3


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

Long-billed Dowitchers

White-faced Ibis

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

Looking cute...

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!

Piping Plover

Doing the two-step...
Least Tern
Called it quits after that, with 89 species for the day.  Bird List:

  Black-bellied Whistling-Duck         
  Mottled Duck                         
  Blue-winged Teal                     
  Ruddy Duck                           
  Least Grebe                          
  Pied-billed Grebe                    
  Neotropic Cormorant                  
  Brown Pelican                        
  Least Bittern                        
  Great Blue Heron                     
  Great Egret                          
  Snowy Egret                          
  Little Blue Heron                    
  Tricolored Heron                     
  Black-crowned Night-Heron            
  Yellow-crowned Night-Heron           
  Green Heron
  White Ibis                           
  White-faced Ibis                      
  Turkey Vulture                       
  Harris's Hawk                        
  Swainson's Hawk                      
  King Rail                            
  Common Gallinule                     
  American Coot                        
  Black-necked Stilt                   
  American Avocet                      
  Black-bellied Plover                 
  American Golden-Plover               
  Piping Plover                         
  Lesser Yellowlegs                    
  Upland Sandpiper                     
  Ruddy Turnstone                      
  Stilt Sandpiper                      
  Baird's Sandpiper                    
  Least Sandpiper                      
  Buff-breasted Sandpiper              
  Pectoral Sandpiper                   
  Semipalmated Sandpiper               
  Long-billed Dowitcher                
  Wilson's Phalarope                   
  Laughing Gull                        
  Least Tern                           
  Gull-billed Tern                      
  Royal Tern                           
  Rock Pigeon                          
  Eurasian Collared-Dove               
  White-winged Dove                    
  Mourning Dove                        
  Inca Dove                             
  Common Ground-Dove                   
  Groove-billed Ani                    
  Buff-bellied Hummingbird             
  Golden-fronted Woodpecker            
  Ladder-backed Woodpecker             
  Crested Caracara                     
  Brown-crested Flycatcher             
  Great Kiskadee                       
  Tropical Kingbird                    
  Western Kingbird                     
  White-eyed Vireo                     
  Horned Lark                          
  Purple Martin                        
  Barn Swallow                         
  Black-crested Titmouse               
  Marsh Wren                           
  Bewick's Wren                        
  Curve-billed Thrasher                
  Long-billed Thrasher                 
  Northern Mockingbird                 
  European Starling                    
  Common Yellowthroat                  
  Olive Sparrow                        
  Lark Sparrow                          
  Savannah Sparrow                     
  Red-winged Blackbird                 
  Eastern Meadowlark                   
  Great-tailed Grackle                 
  Brown-headed Cowbird                  
  Hooded Oriole                        
  Lesser Goldfinch                     


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