The fifth day found us (Tom, Bruce and myself) leaving early for the coast. We arrived in Laguna Atacosa NWR just after dawn and were rewarded with some close views of various raptors perched along the roadsides on the way into the refuge. We took the Bay Loop road and had the place seemingly to ourselves except for a few bicyclists. We had some great views of various waders, shorebirds and terns as well as both species of pelican including a large feeding flock (300+) of Brown Pelicans well off shore in the Laguna Madre. We stopped at Redhead overlook which gave us a great overview of the area. After several minutes of watching the various species move back and forth we spotted first one and then a second Aplomado Falcon working its way across the open expanses. The views were distant but impressive. After watching them for several minutes they disappeared from our view. We then continued our travels and ran into the falcons further down the road and had closer looks then before. Following our few hours out on the Bay Loop road we stopped at the visitors center and then made a trip out to the Laguna Atacosa itself. The area of filled with waterfowl, with numbers well into the tens of thousands with the primary species being Redhead and American Coot with a smattering of Lesser Scaup, Northern Pintail and a few wader species. We left the refuge a little after midday to continue our trip over to South Padre Island.
We arrived on the very built up South Padre Island and headed to the birding center located near the convention center. This turned out to be a very nice oasis in an otherwise very built up, commercialized area. The boardwalks at this location are extensive and give close up views of a variety of species. After a bit of looking in the heat of the day we eventually found a Clapper Rail and then two more. Some fabulous looks at this usually difficult to observe species. The birding center here is known for its rails and it didn't disappoint.
Following South Padre we made a brief stop at Resaca De La Palma SP but due to it closing in less than 20 minutes from our arrival we didn't get to see much there. A stop for another trip in the future.
We ended our day by trying for the Green Parakeets that stage in McAllen before heading into roost. We were not disappointed as we had 90+ staging at the backside of a big box store.