Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Dutch Treat, Part 3


Boy, what an adventure!  I talked everyone into letting me switch itineraries with Juan Sebatian, who was scheduled to take the gang out the next day to Brushline Road, as it promised to be a Big Show on the Island the next day with the storm front moving through tonight!  And when I showed the group the list of potential lifers on the Brushline route (not to mention new possibilities just for the trip), they were excited! 

It was a beautiful day for photography, and on the way up we passed a lovely Swainson’s Hawk on a pole that we swung around to take pictures of!  At South Brushline, again we didn’t get very far before a pair of Pyrrhuloxias performed famously, with the female collecting nesting material!  The Brown-crested Flycatcher showed later, along with lots of cooperative Lark Sparrows, and Suus even spotted a Cassin’s Sparrow on a post!  Both flavors of cowbirds gave great looks (and listens), and we did see a pair of Bobwhite on the road, but they were waay down there!

Swainson's Hawk along FM 493

Curious Brown-crested Flycatcher

Lark Sparrows

Bronzed Cowbird doing his best Darth Vader imitation...

Female Brown-headed Cowbirds

Lady Pyrrhuloxia with a rather stern look...

Crossing the highway got us more into the thornscrub, with Caracaras, Harris’ Hawks, and Black and Turkey Vultures batting around (we chuckled at the Swainson’s Hawk and Black Vulture that seemed to be hanging out together…J).  Bullock’s Orioles gave fleeting views, but the mammalian highlight was a huge Nilgai in the brush! 

Female Nilgai

A little fuzzy, but you can see the tell-tale white ear tips

When we got to the trailhead to La Sal del Rey, we headed in with singing Painted Buntings and Bewick’s Wrens in stereo!  Kaas spotted a Rekirt's Blue, and another target, the Wild Turkeys, gobbled from the brush but wouldn’t allow a view.  Up at the cactus patch, the Cactus Wren made us work for him, but he ultimately gave great views (just not on a cactus J), along with a Bewick’s Wren that sang and scolded.  Common Ground Doves sang from the scrub (we eventually saw a couple dart across the road), but the targets here were the Snowy Plovers, and we finally found Mama with two adorable fluffy babies along the shore!

The gang gets ready to hike out to the salt lake!

Reakirt's Blue

Wim enjoys a Verdin (I think it was) through his scope, while Suus tries to get a shot!

Cactus Wren

Watching the Snowy Plovers at La Sal del Rey

As we continued road-birding, a Curve-billed Thrasher sat on a wire next to his cousin a Mockingbird for good comparative views!  On the way to the farm pond I was pleased as punch to hear a Black-throated Sparrow singing, who eventually gave everyone great looks!  Even the pond was productive, with their life Baird’s Sandpiper looking like a huge bully next to the Least Sandpipers, and a Stilt Sandpiper coming into breeding plumage delighted the group!  I heard a Hooded Oriole as I was turning the car around, but that turned out to be the only one of the route…  On the way out Kaas spotted the Bobwhites off the road wherein everyone jumped out to look – great looks, but the birds were too quick for photos!  

This Curve-billed Thrasher (left) and Northern Mockingbird couldn't have planned a better pose for comparative views!

Hot Curve-billed Thrasher

Heading up to check out the pond...

Heading back down, I was about to turn onto Ken Baker when I noticed a shape in the ditch ahead of us, and it was the coveted Roadrunner!  Everyone got “proof shots”, after which we snuck up a little, and he crept into the vegetation, but as I pulled up where I thought he had gone and prepared to “mess” with him, there he was, right on the berm!  What looks!  (And after he crept away again he refused to be messed with… J)

Down Ken Baker we went, with lots of Scissor-tailed Flycatchers, but no White-tailed Hawk this time… L  It was getting pretty quiet by then, but heading up Jesus Maria Suus spotted a large body crossing the road, and it was the Turkey!  Everyone got brief looks, but at least they were looks!  Kaas spotted a Red-tailed Hawk which took off and gave everyone repeated great looks as he circled around, and at the little hidden wetland in the “residential” area at the end of the road, Kaas also spotted a Northern Waterthrush!  There was also a Green Jay that showed briefly in someone’s yard; Kaas jokingly suggested I jump the fence and scare it their way…

We picked up the pace going back, and as we were discussing options on Ken Baker Road, we spotted something crossing it, so I slowed down to look and POW!  The back tire blew!  I assumed it was the previous patch job that had just weakened, but when Keith came to rescue my charges, he took a look and found the real culprit:  a huge bolt that none of us had seen!  The AAA guy from Harlingen showed up about then to put the donut on for me (and also showed me where the thing had punched a quarter-inch hole in the rim itself L), so Keith took over (since he was taking them to dinner and a night walk anyway J) while I limped home on the donut…  (Had I been on the ball I should have taken a picture of the offending item, which my friend Sue said probably fell off a tractor...)

Bird List:

  Black-bellied Whistling-Duck         
  Northern Bobwhite                    
  Wild Turkey                          
  Snowy Egret                          
  Cattle Egret                         
  Black Vulture                         
  Turkey Vulture                       
  Harris's Hawk                        
  Swainson's Hawk                      
  Red-tailed Hawk                      
  Black-necked Stilt                   
  Snowy Plover                         
  Lesser Yellowlegs                    
  Stilt Sandpiper                      
  Baird's Sandpiper                    
  Least Sandpiper                      
  Eurasian Collared-Dove               
  White-winged Dove                    
  Common Ground-Dove                   
  Yellow-billed Cuckoo                 
  Greater Roadrunner                   
  Groove-billed Ani                    
  Chimney Swift                        
  Golden-fronted Woodpecker            
  Ladder-backed Woodpecker             
  Crested Caracara                     
  Brown-crested Flycatcher             
  Great Kiskadee                       
  Couch's Kingbird                     
  Scissor-tailed Flycatcher             
  White-eyed Vireo                     
  Green Jay                            
  Bank Swallow                         
  Barn Swallow                         
  Cave Swallow                         
  Black-crested Titmouse               
  Bewick's Wren                        
  Cactus Wren                          
  Curve-billed Thrasher                
  Long-billed Thrasher                 
  Northern Mockingbird                 
  European Starling                    
  Olive Sparrow                        
  Cassin's Sparrow                     
  Lark Sparrow                         
  Black-throated Sparrow               
  Painted Bunting                       
  Red-winged Blackbird                 
  Great-tailed Grackle                 
  Bronzed Cowbird                      
  Brown-headed Cowbird                 
  Hooded Oriole                         
  Bullock's Oriole                     
  House Sparrow                        


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