I started my first full day in Texas with a trip to Estero Llano Grande SP at dawn. The day started out breezy and ended windy with temperatures climbing to 90. The park was fabulous and I ran into a couple of nice guys at the park including their naturalist John and park volunteer Huck. We spent some time looking through the groups of ducks and shorebirds in the small ponds and wetlands visible from the deck of the visitors center. We then all went out together on a few hour bird walk covering a large portion of the park. I managed a couple of life birds that morning including Fulvous Whistling Duck (group of ten) and a pair of Red crowned Parrots. The total numbers of birds and variety of species in a relatively small park was great to see. The highlights are almost too numerous to mention but did include three roosting Common Pauraque, 35+ Scissor tailed Flycatchers, a Wilson's Phalarope, and...well the list goes on and on. As I will mention in later posts the butterfly spectacle of truly something to see. After spending the morning at Estero we made a trip over to the nearby Frontera Audubon area. Yet another great spot with a nice feeding flock of warblers among the other birds present.
Following a hour plus at Frontera I made the trip back to Bentson SP. I spent the next few hours exploring the park and had a great discovery near the Acacia Loop...a female Blue Bunting. I regret I was unable to get a photo of this rarity but I did get great looks at it, even if only for a short time. The rich overall brownish red with the lark dark bill were quite distinctive. A truly unique looking bird.
The dusk flight at Bentson of swallows was truly one of the most remarkable and impressive spectacle I have ever seen. There was a steady steam of swallows, almost all Barns, moving by. Some were at the level of my knees, others flying right past my head, others in great masses a bit higher up. Some coming by so close you could feel them go by. It was like standing in a river of birds as they raced past. Estimating the number of birds was almost impossible and any number would not do this impressive flight justice but I made a rough guess of 150,000+! Talking with others later this is at least what they estimate come into roost during this time of year. Another terrific end to a great day.