Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Texas Days 5-6 (Nov 14-15th)

Ringed Kingfisher, Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley SP, TX, Nov 14, 2011

Green Jay, Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley SP, TX, Nov 14, 2011

Black and White Warbler, Estero Llano Grande SP, TX, Nov 14, 2011

Spotted Towhee, Estero Llano Grande SP, TX, Nov 14, 2011

Plain Chachalaca, Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley SP, TX, Nov 14, 2011

On my final two days in Texas I decided to return to a few spots I had already visited to try and add a few new birds and get some better looks at ones I had already seen.  On Monday the 14th I started the morning at Santa Ana NWR beginning with a trip to the hawk watch tower and then a walk to Pintail Lakes and then back to the hawk watch tower with several others from back home when they arrived.  I had a very interesting morning there with several new species including a Merlin buzzing past the tower low and fast, a Peregrine Falcon moving south (an odd looking bird as it didn't seem quite right...I was thinking possibly Prairie Falcon but the light was terrible and the photos I got don't seem to help much) as well as a distantly perched raptor that may have been a Hook-billed Kite.  Again I cannot be sure and the photos are very distant and blurry.  Someone else did have a Hook-billed Kite there that morning but I just couldn't be sure.  Certainly wish I had a scope at that point.  Beyond the raptors here I had an impressive morning flight of  941 White Pelicans lifting off in groups in the morning and heading south toward Mexico over the course of 45 minutes first thing in the morning.  There was also an impressive morning flight of Red-winged Blackbirds numbering in the several thousand.  After leaving Santa Ana on yet another breezy but warm morning I headed just down the road a bit to Estero Llano Grande SP once again.  The best birds of the stop here were a Black and White Warbler and a Spotted Towhee.   Not too much else of note here beyond what I had seen before so I decided to head back to Bentsen SP midday.  I spent the rest of the afternoon around Bentsen with one noteworthy bird being a Northern Beardless-Tyrannulet (the name is much more flashy than the rather nondescript flycatcher that it is).  Despite a lot of searching the Black-vented Oriole remained elusive. 

Green Kingfisher (one of the last birds of the trip), Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley SP, TX, Nov 14, 2011
My final morning in Texas I decided to stay around Bentsen SP before heading to the airport.  I started out at first light and walked throughout the park and also spent about 45 minutes out at the hawk tower during which time a front came through dropping the temperatures a bit, increasing the wind and threatening to rain.  Luckily the few sprinkles did not last but a couple minutes and then the clouds broke a bit more.  It was amazing to see how fast the weather can change down here when a front comes through.  On my walk back out of the park one of the final birds I had was a Green Kingfisher...a nice way to end my time down there.  With my flight quickly approaching I headed toward the airport in McAllen and stopped briefly at Quintan Mazatlan right next to the airport to get a final taste of birding before my flight back to reality.

The totals for the trip down to the lower Rio Grande valley from November 10-15 include the following:

-total species on trip-160
-new Texas species-13 (bringing my state total to 214)
-new Mexico species -9 (bringing my total to 37)
-new species for the year -28
(thank you eBird for making the tally of these numbers easy!)

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