Monday, August 26, 2019

Birder Patrol - Shorebird Hunt!


We had a good turnout for this month’s Birder Patrol shorebird hunt!  We met at Hugh Ramsey Park in Harlingen where we logged a few unique songbirds and a Black-bellied Whistling Duck while waiting around for people to show up, then we carpooled to our first destination, Port Isabel Reservoir along Holly Beach Road in Laguna Vista!  We took the back way there, where we enjoyed a Green Heron perched on a wire (along with several Scissor-tailed Flycatchers), a flock of White Ibis paralleling the car, and a dozen Bobwhite we nearly ran down!

The water at the reservoir was quite low, but that made for great shorebird habitat:  Semipalmated, Snowy, Black-bellied, and Wilson’s Plover (the latter quite close to us) all showed, plus hundreds of peeps out there (I felt comfortable logging all three common ones)!  Black, Least, Forster’s, and Gull-billed Terns were in evidence (plus a single Black Skimmer), and a couple of Wilson’s Phalaropes were in the mix as well.  A single Avocet stood out from the smaller shorebirds (along with a few Black-necked Stilts), and a few Greater Yellowlegs were off by themselves.  One of the more unusual sights was gobs of Common Nighthawks batting overhead!  Unfortunately we couldn’t pick out a Piping Plover, which I still needed for the year… L

The Birder Patrol scans shallow Port Isabel Reservoir for goodies, like this Wilson's Plover (below)!

Next stop was the Highway 48 Boat Ramp, which was quite crowded with trucks that had hauled their boats in!  A gal (I think her name was Maria) was studying terns there, so Norma helped her sort out the fine points of tern ID!  We found a Sandwich Tern (a lifer for Rick), and a Sanderling still in breeding plumage had me fooled into thinking we had a Baird’s Sandpiper at first!  Several Ruddy Turnstones were by the shoreline, but alas, we could pick out no oystercatchers, normally a staple here.  A big bird sitting in with the skimmers had some people stumped until it revealed itself to be a Long-billed Curlew!

From there we headed up to South Padre, and rather than driving on the Flats (Norma was driving this time, and some of the other folks didn’t feel comfortable driving out there) we parked behind the Convention Centre where we could scope the birds:  there were mostly Royal Terns with the odd Caspian and a Gull-billed close to shore, but we also had several Reddish Egrets (including our pie-bald friend), lots of dowitchers with a Marbled Godwit in with them, and more Sanderlings.  A pair of Roseate Spoonbills closer to the mangroves was nice, and we had one Little Blue Heron along with several Tricoloreds.

Stephanie and the others check out the gathering from behind the Convention Centre!

Gull-billed Tern

Pie-bald Reddish Egret with dowitcher friends
There had been some good migrants reported, so we meandered through the trees, and Rick was great at spotting stuff:  several Yellow Warblers, a couple of Black-and-whites, a Red-eyed Vireo, and a couple of empids that we narrowed down to both Alder and Willow (the latter we really poured over).  Alicia found an Eastern Kingbird, and lots of Barn Swallows circled overhead.  Both a Least Bittern and Common Gallinule called from the marsh.

Black-and-white Warbler

Peek-a-boo Red-eyed Vireo

Lousy shot of the Willow Flycatcher...

We were starting to melt J so we headed to Joe’s Oyster Bar in Port Isabel where we had a wonderful lunch, then all went our separate ways.  We logged 75 species, not bad for just the morning!  Bird list:

Black-bellied Whistling-Duck
Northern Bobwhite
Rock Pigeon
Eurasian Collared-Dove
White-winged Dove
Mourning Dove
Common Nighthawk
Chimney Swift
Buff-bellied Hummingbird
Common Gallinule
Black-necked Stilt
American Avocet
Black-bellied Plover
Snowy Plover
Wilson's Plover
Semipalmated Plover
Long-billed Curlew
Marbled Godwit
Ruddy Turnstone
Least Sandpiper
Semipalmated Sandpiper
Western Sandpiper
Short-billed Dowitcher
Wilson's Phalarope
Greater Yellowlegs
Laughing Gull
Least Tern
Gull-billed Tern
Caspian Tern
Black Tern
Forster's Tern
Royal Tern
Sandwich Tern
Black Skimmer
Neotropic Cormorant
Brown Pelican
Least Bittern
Great Blue Heron
Great Egret
Snowy Egret
Little Blue Heron
Tricolored Heron
Reddish Egret
Cattle Egret
Green Heron
White Ibis
Roseate Spoonbill
Turkey Vulture
Harris's Hawk
Golden-fronted Woodpecker
Ladder-backed Woodpecker
Crested Caracara
Alder Flycatcher
Willow Flycatcher
Great Kiskadee
Eastern Kingbird
Scissor-tailed Flycatcher
Red-eyed Vireo
Loggerhead Shrike
Green Jay
Purple Martin
Barn Swallow
Curve-billed Thrasher
Long-billed Thrasher
Northern Mockingbird
Lesser Goldfinch
Orchard Oriole
Bronzed Cowbird
Great-tailed Grackle
Black-and-white Warbler
Yellow Warbler
Northern Cardinal

Monday, August 19, 2019

Return to Costa Rica!

Last month (13-27 July) I returned to Costa Rica for vacation, scouting out two new lodges:  Savegre (which is high in the Talamanca Mountains) and Talari Mountain Lodge (which is nestled on the Pacific slope near San Isidro).  You can read all about it (plus see pictures and hear recordings) by clicking here!

To whet your appetite, here are some reps from each place I visited:

Collared Redstart (Savegre)

Red Cracker (Talari Mountain Lodge)

Rufous-capped Warbler (Hotel Bougainvillea)

"Pacific" Sara Heliconian (Los Cusingos)

Violet Sabrewing (Bosque del Tolomuco)

Volcano Junco (Irazu)