Friday, March 9, 2018

The New Camera, Part 3


Professional photographer Anna Manuel joined us today, and I was particularly happy about that as she knew more about Catherine’s camera than I did J and could help her learn how to get the best photos possible!  We picked Anna up in Harlingen and then headed straight to Hugh Ramsey Nature Park, as Catherine still needed Green Kingfisher, and that’s usually a good place for them.  We were also keeping an eye out for the reported Lazuli Bunting, but alas, he didn’t show (and neither did the kingfisher L), but it was a lovely hike and we saw some nice things.  A puffy little Least Grebe where the kingfisher was supposed to be was really cute, and we added Green Jays, Golden-fronted Woodpeckers, and White-tipped Dove at the blind (plus a Javelina that strolled in).  We also spent some time at the other blind where the bunting had been seen, and we indeed heard some buzzes that could have been the Indigo Buntings that a gentleman was telling us about, but the only thing that showed were some bunnies chasing each other and making more bunnies, and a couple of Lincoln’s Sparrows off to the side! 

Catherine and Anna on the trails at Hugh Ramsey

Least Grebe

Anna showed us where “their” Pauraque was hanging out before we headed down to the arroyo where a pair of Ringed Kingfishers rattled and reeled overhead, then shot down the connector.  We couldn’t find anything along the arroyo itself, but back at the parking lot the fact that Catherine had never seen a Buff-bellied Hummingbird surfaced, so Anna took her back to the hummer feeders while I finished the EBird list, only when I was done I heard an Altamira Oriole next to the trail!  Some other birders actually spotted it, and I think Anna and Catherine got back in time to see it, too, but they had dipped on the hummer… L

Anna helps Catherine shoot a Pauraque (below)

Pink Mint

Cactus trail

Lincoln's Sparrow

Giant Swallowtail

Overlooking the Arroyo Colorado

Texas Ebony

I had made arrangements to visit the Inn at Chachalaca Bend to look for the Rose-throated Becard, so I was excited as this was my first time birding the place!  We got waylaid by the giant resaca just before the turn, however, as there were several egrets, ibis, and a spoonbill to look at!  There were cormorants and a couple of herons on the other side, but they were anticlimactic compared to the spoonbill! 

Checking out the resaca

Young White Ibis are actually brown!  The white bird is a Snowy Egret.

We wheeled in, parked, and was greeted by Donna who got me signed in and gave me a map of the place while the girls found the restrooms.  Another Altamira and a Couch’s Kingbird were right there in the parking lot, and they had a rocky water feature that a Mockingbird liked to land on, plus a feeder that a male Cardinal was visiting.  White-eyed Vireos were singing (but not showing themselves naturally), and since Anna had been there before, she led us around the wooded trail and to an overlook where we had a close encounter with a Snowy Egret, plus an Anhinga across the way.  We took one of the field trails back to the main road and walked that back in; no becard, but it was “that time of day” as well.  But the place was beautiful; I wouldn’t mind spending a week there and just chilling!  On the way out a Caracara flew right in front of us, thrilling Catherine to no end!

Shooting a Buff-bellied Hummingbird

Catherine and Anna on the trail

Northern Mockingbird

Distant Anhinga
From there we really had to scoot to South Padre, so we decided to hit the Birding Center first.  An Osprey whistling from the water tower was a hit, and out back we hit the jackpot right away as American Oystercatcher was one of Catherine’s target birds, and there was a pair out in the wetlands!  Marbled Godwit was another lifer for both the girls, and a snag across the way hosted the Belted Kingfisher.  Closer to the boardwalk a Little Blue Heron was waving his neck back and forth as he fished, and a few things were on the sunny side that allowed for better photography (especially the gallinules).  Out on the pier we had some American Wigeon in good light, along with a Tricolored Heron, but the Redheads were done gone!  Flocks of Ruddy Turnstones and Dunlin zipped by, but they were too fast for the camera…

Osprey on the water tower

Common Gallinule

American Wigeon

Female on left

Neotropic Cormorant

Continuing on the boardwalk another wish list bird, a Northern Waterthrush, pinked, but as I feared, it refused to come out, unlike a very cooperative Yellow-rumped Warbler!  Another one was in the more open area, looking for bugs on the mud (we figured), while a pretty group of White Ibis sat nearby.  Black Skimmers and Caspian Terns flew by, and we witnessed a few altercations, including one between a Mottled Duck and a Black-bellied Whistling Duck!  Catherine was going nuts as so many things were demanding her attention at once! 

Yellow-rumped Warbler, showing well where the nickname "Butterbutt" came from!

White Ibises working on becoming presentable...

Black-bellied Whistling Duck

Mottled Duck

Anna found the coveted Green Heron on a culvert, and as we approached the “east pond” we were inundated by several more species:  both Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs, Willet, Black-necked Stilts, and a Stilt Sandpiper rounded out the shorebird department, while both Blue-winged and Green-winged Teal fed and lounged.  A gang of Laughing Gulls wheeled in with a token Ring-billed, and a pretty breeding-plumaged Pied-billed Grebe sat right under us close to the boardwalk!

Checking out things from the boardwalk

Green Heron

Pied-billed Grebe

Close ups of the head

Lesser Yellowlegs

Good clues to separate this species from the Greater include the shorter bill (same length as the head), and longer primaries (extending beyond the tail).

We had just a few minutes to peruse the Convention Centre (where we really had nothing to add), so after convincing Catherine that she needed to come back and spend a month here in April J we headed on home with a modest 72 species for the day.  Bird List:

  Black-bellied Whistling-Duck         
  American Wigeon                      
  Mottled Duck                         
  Blue-winged Teal                     
  Green-winged Teal                    
  Least Grebe                          
  Pied-billed Grebe                    
  Neotropic Cormorant                  
  Brown Pelican                         
  Great Blue Heron                     
  Great Egret                          
  Snowy Egret                          
  Little Blue Heron                    
  Tricolored Heron                     
  Reddish Egret                         
  Green Heron                          
  White Ibis                           
  Roseate Spoonbill                    
  Turkey Vulture                       
  Common Gallinule                     
  American Coot                        
  Black-necked Stilt                   
  American Oystercatcher               
  Greater Yellowlegs                   
  Lesser Yellowlegs                    
  Marbled Godwit                       
  Ruddy Turnstone                      
  Stilt Sandpiper                      
  Laughing Gull                        
  Ring-billed Gull                      
  Caspian Tern                         
  Royal Tern                           
  Rock Pigeon                          
  Eurasian Collared-Dove               
  Mourning Dove                        
  Inca Dove                             
  White-tipped Dove                    
  Common Pauraque                      
  Buff-bellied Hummingbird             
  Ringed Kingfisher                    
  Belted Kingfisher                    
  Golden-fronted Woodpecker            
  Ladder-backed Woodpecker             
  Crested Caracara                     
  Great Kiskadee                       
  Couch's Kingbird                     
  White-eyed Vireo                     
  Green Jay                            
  Purple Martin                        
  Cave Swallow                         
  Black-crested Titmouse               
  House Wren                           
  Carolina Wren                        
  Bewick's Wren                        
  Ruby-crowned Kinglet                  
  Northern Mockingbird                 
  European Starling                    
  Northern Waterthrush                 
  Common Yellowthroat                  
  Yellow-rumped Warbler                
  Olive Sparrow                         
  Lincoln's Sparrow                    
  Northern Cardinal                    
  Red-winged Blackbird                 
  Great-tailed Grackle                 
  Altamira Oriole                      
  House Sparrow                        



  1. Great account of our fun day!

  2. nice description of yellowlegs difference, thanks. We only get Greater in CA and hope to see Lesser there.