Saturday, February 28, 2015

Green Heron at Willow Lake

Santa Ana Wildlife Refuge has water in Willow Lake and all the Pintail Lakes. The wildlife has come back to their wetlands.  The highlight of our walk with Sue and Steve was the Green Heron that Susan spotted behind the Common Gallinule and the eight Wilson Snipes.  The Green Heron was hunting fish, but a meal was not caught while we watched. The photos were taken over five minutes, one slow step at a time. (2/27)  

Still searching . . . 

Warmer Day at Edinburg Wetlands

After the cold spell that held up captive for two days, the sun warmed the air.  The day and photographs look like spring back home.  Now it is cold again, just like spring in Minnesota. Here we have Hummingbirds feeding in the cold as well as a few Warblers and Flycatchers. The best bird of the afternoon was a Gold-crowned Kinglet which we both saw but did not get a photo.  The black eye-band with white eyebrow distinguished it from the Ruby. (2/25)


                                             Tropical Kingbird
                                                                               Claycolored Thrush (Robin)

Orange- Crowned Warbler
Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Buff-bellied Hummingbird

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Birding Near Mission

Our birding adventure this week took us to Mission, just west of McAllen.  We were dressed for the 43 degree temps with no sun and a wind. Bentsen State Park was our first stop and the Hooked-bill Kite the target bird. No sightings on the levee in the AM by anyone. We walked for about an hour not seeing much, so . . . 

Next we headed to Mission Nature Park which has a paved trail but we took to the levee which was wet and sticky. The clay stuck like glue to the bottom of our boots. Almost immediately we were 3 inches taller and walking like clod hoppers.  Nothing up on the levee either but we saw a Cactus Wren and a Roadrunner on the paved trail. 

 After a little drive we spotted Burrowing Owl on another Levee.

   Our last stop was at Anzalduas County Park before we had a late late lunch
  at the  New Ranch House Burgers in Palmview.
There was flock of BlueBirds and many Warblers but no photos.

                      Loggerhead Shrike 
                  Vermilion Flycatcher                                        

 Osprey with  Catch

Mission Nature Park and Anzalduas County Park

Mission Nature Park is a 5 mile bike trail that parallels the levee where snails live in trees. Last year Hook-billed Kites picked them off the trees while birders delighted. Not to be this year but Cactus Wrens, Bewick's Wren, Roadrunnners and Various Hawks on the Wing.

 Cactus Wren on Cactus,  no photos of the Bewick's.

The Roadrunner was being too tricky to get a great photo, just like on the cartoons. 

Anzalduas County Park is an open picnic area that you can drive around bird from your car. Warblers, Bluebirds and Vermillion Flycatchers are the usual suspects.  The Rio River attracts Brown Pelicans, Ospreys and other fisher species. The parking lot has many more Border Patrol vehicles than other vehicles. We saw only 3 other vehicles and 2 had Minnesota license plates.


                    Loggerhead Shrike 

Osprey with Catch of the Morning 

Vermillion Flycatcher

The White-throated Thrush at Estero Llando Grande

      There has been one White-throated Thrush at Estero for almost two weeks. The Thrush drifted north from Mexico. Only a few have shown up in the Valley in the last decade. So at Estero birding is competitive with serious birders from all over the States. The White-throat eats fruit/figs from the Banyon tree in company of Clay-colored Thrushes.  We have looked for it through opening in buildings 50 yards back, in crowds of dozens of birders for the last week. Today after a abbreviated bird walk and two earlier attempts to see it. I took a lawn chair and waited for it. Luckily I saw the Thrush and knew it was not the Clay-colored because they were at the watering hole. When it flew shortly after being spotted, it landed in an opening so everyone could see it.  But the Gray-crowned Yellowthroat, the other coveted bird was elusive after the 7:30 showing. A side note, if you go on a bird walk at least take binoculars.

It looks like a combination of an American Robin and a Clay-colored Thrush.
But it is a White-throated Thrush!

The white throat plus  the white rump side distinguishes it from the Clay-Colored Thrush. 

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Winter Warblers in TX and Spring Warblers in AL

Winter warblers are always exciting for birders in the Valley.   Warblers are pursued through state parks, National Wildlife Areas, city parks and gardens but they are not anything compared to our Spring Migration in the north. A Black and White Warbler at the Edinburgh Wetlands was exciting to capture today. But oh my Goodness those wonder days last May. I went through my unpublished photos. I can't resist publishing them before they show up again. I will try to resist taking hundreds of photos a day. My shoulder made a full recovery by January, so my Mantra is . . . everything in moderation, in moderation, in moderation.   

Black and White Warbler at Edinburgh

Spring Warblers in Oakwood - 2014   (May 7th & 8th)
I can't imagine a magical spring migration like last year but I am a hopeful person/birder.   

Yellow Warbler 
Common Yellowthroat
Wilson Warbler 
Magnolia Warbler 
Yellow-rumped Warbler, alias Myrtle Warbler, affectionately/disappointedly Butterbutt 
Northern Parula 
Nashville Warbler

Golden-wing Warbler

Tennessee Warbler
Palm Warbler

Monday, February 9, 2015

NABA Birds on a Sunny Sunday

It was my first really warm sunny day in South Rio Grande Valley. We started out at McAllen's Nature Center and then to the National Butterfly Center.  Since we were only a mile away we did a tram tour of Bensten State Park. The photos were taken at the Butterfly Center because that was where the birds hang out.

           Orange-crowned Warbler in the woods and bathing on a water-feature rock.

                           Altamira Orioles

  Black-capped Titmouse 

                                     White-tippled Dove

                                            Northern Cardinal   and   Great-tailed Grackle