Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Birds and History


Linda and Evan from Austin and Linda and Bill from Tucson were two birding buddy-couples that made plans to meet here in South Texas for some local birding before the latter headed to the Island and the former headed back home.  They booked a half day to start, so I thought Quinta Mazatlan and Old Hidalgo Pumphouse would be good places that people who were also “culturally oriented” would enjoy!

Quinta was great:  the gate was open by the time we got there, getting Inca Doves in the parking lot and a flyby Yellow-crowned Night Heron right away.  A singing Yellow Warbler greeted us along the trail, while others were not so cooperative:  Common Yellowthroat, Nashville, and Black-throated Green Warblers gave views that we had to work for!  A Curve-billed Thrasher posed nicely on the fence at the end of a dead-end trail (Bill wasn’t even interested until I told him it was a candidate for a split… J), and a Swainson’s Thrush came in to one of the water features.  A Green Jay came down to say hello, and both Green Parakeets and Red-crowned Parrots went screaming behind the canopy; we got fleeting looks at the parrots over by the new section (that’s not quite open yet).  Both Lindas were great spotters, and Linda M. was able to get the others on a singing Olive Sparrow at one of the rest stops!  A pair of noisy Couch’s Kingbirds demanded attention, and an oriole chattered that we just couldn’t get a bead on, but it sounded more like a Baltimore to me.  An Empid showed up that screamed “Least” to me, so that’s what we called it.  Just before the house a group of Black-crested Titmice showed off, making me think of poor Mike trying to get his photo… L

Evan, Bill, Linda, and Linda pose along the trail!

After checking in we continued on the loop, and everyone commented on what a peaceful place it was!  Linda A. got talked into posing as a butterfly over at the educational center J, and just before we got there they all latched onto a Yellow-breasted Chat that I missed! (J for them, L for me…)  After a quick check of the pond we continued on where a Chachalaca was posing on their Indigo Snake statue as though he had proudly caught the thing himself! J  We took the new “Prehistoric Trail” over to the feeder area, where a 15-minute watch gave us great views of Long-billed Thrasher, Kiskadee, Golden-fronted Woodpecker, and a pair of Clay-colored Thrushes (one of which was banded), to say nothing of tons of White-winged Doves!  A Great Crested Flycatcher posed near the top of a tree for good measure, while a Catbird was more evasive.  Cedar Waxwings gave their ringing call somewhere behind us.

Linda letting her "inner butterfly" come out!

Trying to find that elusive warbler...

This Chachalaca feels very brave around a fake snake!

Clay-colored Thrush pair

Note the band...

Long-billed Thrasher - different lighting conditions can make them look quite rusty!

A group of kidlets were descending upon the area, so we headed over to Old Hidalgo Pumphouse, picking up a Loggerhead Shrike on a wire at a stop light.  We had the place to ourselves, and while quiet, we did have a female Rose-breasted Grosbeak right away, and a family of Black Phoebes, the youngster still showing his gape mark!  Both Buff-bellied and Archilochus hummingbirds buzzed around in the garden, but the resaca was empty except for the phoebes, although some got a glimpse of a Yellow-billed Cuckoo hiding in the tree, and a Swainson’s Hawk soared in the distance.  We decided to walk the trail next to the levee, where a Blue-headed Vireo came out in the open (can’t say the same for the White-eyed), and both an Altamira and Bullock’s Oriole were present (the former gave a look, but the latter remained hidden).  A pair of Lark Sparrows posed down the way, but the highlight along this trail was the pair of Groove-billed Anis that gave great looks; definitely upstaged the little Eastern Wood Pewee!  Linda and I kept hearing a Sharp-shinned Hawk calling across the way, accompanied by unpleasant bird cries (like something was in the throes of death), and we kept trying to find it until we heard a Peregrine call right on the heels of the Sharpie, and concluded that it was some company playing raptor calls to keep unwanted pigeons (or whatever) away from their buildings!  Had us fooled!

Black Phoebe

Checking out the grounds

We hiked back along the levee, but it was getting pretty warm by then; had a few Monk Parakeets fly over (some with nesting material), and Evan and I had a nice chat with the Border Patrol agent on duty (I wanted to find out if the powers that be were ever going to open up that Walking Trail again, but found out it was permanently closed to protect the NWR tract).  A Gray Hawk was whistling in the distance, while Tropical Kingbirds were tittering back in the gardens.  Headed home the back way (after freeing a Santa Ana Tussock Moth that had gotten caught in their trunk) with 64 species for the morning!

Coming back along the levee

Santa Ana Tussock Moth

Bird List:

  Black-bellied Whistling-Duck          
  Plain Chachalaca                     
  Great Egret                          
  Green Heron                          
  Yellow-crowned Night-Heron           
  Turkey Vulture                       
  Gray Hawk                            
  Swainson's Hawk                      
  Rock Pigeon                          
  White-winged Dove                    
  Mourning Dove                        
  Inca Dove                            
  White-tipped Dove
  Yellow-billed Cuckoo                     
  Groove-billed Ani                    
  Lesser Nighthawk (at the Inn)                    
  Chimney Swift                        
  Buff-bellied Hummingbird             
  Golden-fronted Woodpecker            
  Ladder-backed Woodpecker              
  Monk Parakeet                        
  Green Parakeet                       
  Red-crowned Parrot                   
  Eastern Wood-Pewee                   
  Least Flycatcher                     
  Black Phoebe                         
  Great Crested Flycatcher             
  Brown-crested Flycatcher             
  Great Kiskadee                       
  Tropical Kingbird                    
  Couch's Kingbird                     
  Scissor-tailed Flycatcher            
  Loggerhead Shrike                    
  White-eyed Vireo                     
  Blue-headed Vireo                    
  Green Jay                            
  Cave Swallow                         
  Black-crested Titmouse               
  Swainson's Thrush                    
  Clay-colored Thrush                  
  Gray Catbird                         
  Curve-billed Thrasher                
  Long-billed Thrasher                 
  Northern Mockingbird                  
  European Starling                    
  Cedar Waxwing                        
  Nashville Warbler  
  Common Yellowthroat                 
  Yellow Warbler                       
  Black-throated Green Warbler         
  Yellow-breasted Chat
  Olive Sparrow                        
  Lark Sparrow                         
  Northern Cardinal                    
  Rose-breasted Grosbeak               
  Great-tailed Grackle                 
  Bronzed Cowbird                      
  Brown-headed Cowbird                 
  Bullock's Oriole                     
  Altamira Oriole                      
  Baltimore Oriole                     
  House Sparrow    

64 SPECIES                    

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