Thursday, January 25, 2018

Feeder Frenzy


We headed west into Starr County today, and it started off much the way it had yesterday:  cold and misty!  But the further we went, the mist let up as promised by the weatherman, and when we arrived at Falcon State Park it was still cold and overcast, but dry and calm, so it was very tolerable!  And for whatever reason, this day was much more birdy than on previous days at the park:  Pyrrhuloxias were everywhere, it seemed, and Roadrunners were only too happy to come out and play (although they didn’t fall for my cooing this time L)! 


Western Meadowlark digging in the dirt...

Very cold and wet Roadrunner!

Since the overflow lot was way too muddy to drive on (a jeep of birders who had passed us in the primitive camping area had apparently gone down there, and we saw where they decided to turn back…) we took a little hike down the incline, enjoying some Savannah Sparrows jumping in and out of the ditch along the boat ramp, and a flock of warblers that included an “Audubon’s”!  Surprisingly we saw no water birds out on the lake, but my guidees were impressed with Falcon Dam and the size of the lake! 

Why I chose NOT to drive into the overflow lot!

Tom and Nancy enjoying themselves despite the cold!

Driving out of the parking area and turning the corner, we almost ran over three Black-throated Sparrows enjoying a puddle by the road!  In the picnic area we spotted a feeding frenzy on the lake that was made up of mostly Laughing Gulls but also included a few Ringbills and some cormorants (down at the end of the road we spotted a White Pelican making his way over to the party)!  A Pied-billed Grebe morphed into a Coot once we looked at it through the scope J, and in the cabin area a handsome Caracara posed on a pole!  At the corner where the butterfly garden is, a nice Curve-billed Thrasher sat on top of a bush, giving a barely audible whisper song!  I was bemoaning the fact that Bobwhite was another bird I hadn’t seen much of in the park lately, when Nancy suddenly spotted some by the side of the road!  A swing through the hookup campground added a Javelina rooting around in someone’s campsite…  While stopped at the entrance station for a potty break, we descended on a feeding flock that I thought had another Audubon’s Warbler, but pished up a curious Verdin instead, and a sprightly Black-crested Titmouse teed up and sang his little song for all to see!

Crested Caracara

Curve-billed Thrasher

From there we decided to visit Merle and Lois’ feeding stations, so we swung over to Salineño and pulled in their little lot; it was hard to get Tom to stay with us as he was seeing birds every five feet on the way in, even though I was assuring him that “you’ll see loads!” J  And today’s show didn’t disappoint: the hour flew by (Tom couldn’t believe we had sat there that long), and all the expected moochers came in and gave great looks, including “Baldy,” the Audubon’s Oriole and “Patch”, the leucistic Red-winged Blackbird!  Several immature Altamira Orioles came in along with the adults, and finally a Hooded Oriole showed up, albeit an immature male (which led to a discussion of the true definition of “hooded” J)!  The Bobwhites provided comedy relief as they’d sneak into the feeding area a foot or so, only to go scrambling back when the Green Jays called the alarm!  This happened several times until the whole covey finally made its way out into the open.  The Long-billed Thrasher finally peeked out, and even the Olive Sparrow made a brief appearance!

Birds that make the Salineno Feeders a "Must See" event...

Northern Cardinals

Altamira Orioles

"This is MY feeder!"

Immature bird

Pondering my discarded apple...

Northern Bobwhites finally get up the nerve to sneak out...

...and enjoy feeder frenzy along with everyone else!


Pair, with female behind

Orange-crowned Warblers

White-winged Doves

Brown-headed Cowbird

Plain Chachalaca

Female Ladder-backed Woodpecker

This leucistic Red-winged Blackbird was dubbed "Patch" by Merle and Lois!

Green Jays

And the star of the show, "Baldy" the Audubon's Oriole!

(so-called because of the nick on the top of his head that he's had for several years, better seen in the photo below...)

With his girlfriend at left...
After the hour was up we went down to the river to hike the Seedeater Trail, where the same Osprey was on the same pole eating dinner!  No seedeaters, but Tom did spot a beautiful Gray Hawk across the way (twice in fact, as the bird flew the first time before Nancy could see it through the scope)!  A partially hidden cow across the river had an attendant Cattle Egret, which was quite a sight in what looked like thick thornbrush!  A pair of Olive Sparrows gave great close looks (until I got the camera out), and at the end of the trail we had a couple of Yellowthroats and a Lincoln’s Sparrow, but not much else.

Tom studies Mr. Osprey (on the pole) eating lunch!

Trying to gag down the rest of his meal...

At the end of the Seedeater Trail

We thought about trying to visit Quinta Mazatlan on the way back (seeing as they were staying right next door practically), but by the time we got there we realized we wouldn’t have been able to spend much time there, so we just called it a day.  But the best bird (for Nancy anyway J) was on the golf course on the way to the hotel:  several Long-billed Curlews grazing close to the road!  Once we parked and settled down in the breakfast room and went through the checklist, we shooed her off to walk back to get more looks, while I gave Tom a quick eBird tutorial (he had just downloaded the mobile app and was anxious to start using it)!  We wound up with 56 species for the day.  Bird list:

  Plain Chachalaca                     
  Northern Bobwhite                    
  Neotropic Cormorant                  
  Double-crested Cormorant             
  American White Pelican               
  Cattle Egret                         
  Black Vulture                        
  Turkey Vulture                       
  Cooper's Hawk                        
  Harris's Hawk                        
  Gray Hawk                            
  American Coot                        
  Spotted Sandpiper                    
  Long-billed Curlew                   
  Least Sandpiper                      
  Laughing Gull                         
  Ring-billed Gull                     
  Rock Pigeon                          
  Eurasian Collared-Dove               
  White-winged Dove                    
  White-tipped Dove                    
  Greater Roadrunner                    
  Golden-fronted Woodpecker            
  Ladder-backed Woodpecker             
  Crested Caracara                     
  American Kestrel                     
  Eastern Phoebe                       
  Great Kiskadee                       
  Green Jay                            
  Black-crested Titmouse               
  House Wren                           
  Blue-gray Gnatcatcher                
  Ruby-crowned Kinglet                 
  Curve-billed Thrasher                
  Long-billed Thrasher                 
  Northern Mockingbird                 
  European Starling                    
  Orange-crowned Warbler               
  Common Yellowthroat                  
  “Myrtle” Warbler                 
  “Audubon’s” Warbler
  Olive Sparrow                        
  Black-throated Sparrow               
  Savannah Sparrow                     
  Lincoln's Sparrow                    
  Northern Cardinal                    
  Red-winged Blackbird                 
  Western Meadowlark                   
  Great-tailed Grackle                 
  Brown-headed Cowbird                 
  Hooded Oriole                        
  Altamira Oriole                       
  Audubon's Oriole                     
  House Sparrow                        


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