Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Big Bend National Park produces lots of good stuff including Colima Warbler

Colima Warbler, Big Bend NP, TX, Apr 10, 2017
Colima Warbler, Big Bend NP, TX, Apr 10, 2017
Common Poorwill, Big Bend NP, TX, Apr 10, 2017
Mexican Jay, Big Bend NP, TX, Apr 10, 2017
Townsend's Warbler, Big Bend NP, TX, Apr 10, 2017
Townsend's Warbler (?) with limited yellow on breast, Big Bend NP, TX, Apr 10, 2017
Townsend's Warbler (?) with limited yellow on breast, Big Bend NP, TX, Apr 10, 2017
Blue gray Gnatcatcher with nest material, Big Bend NP, TX, Apr 10, 2017
Black crested Titmouse, Big Bend NP, TX, Apr 10, 2017
Vermilion Flycatcher, Fort Pena Colorado, Marathon, TX, Apr 10, 2017
Spotted Sandpiper, Fort Pena Colorado, Marathon, TX, Apr 10, 2017
Scaled Quail,  Marathon, TX, Apr 10, 2017
I was up and out the door bright and early on Monday to make the long run down to the Chisos Basin in Big Bend NP. The ride should take around 90 minutes but I took about two hours with frequent stops to let jackrabbits, deer and coyotes move out of the road. I also added some nocturnal birds including a number of Common Poorwills, a few Lesser Nighthawks and a couple Mexican Whip Poor Wills. I arrived in the basin before sunrise and started the hike up the Pinnacles trail to get to Boot Spring where my main target (Colima Warbler) can be found. The trail was steep but not too bad considering some of the horror stories I had heard regarding the difficulty. The scenery was truly spectacular with each new turn in the trail producing a new awe inspiring view. I made it up through the gap in the basin via the Pinnacles and then started down the Boot Spring trail where I ran across my first Colima Warbler which popped into view briefly but disappeared before I could get the camera on it. I continued down toward Boot Spring itself and continued to run across various mixed species flocks but I didn't have another Colima Warbler until I made it to Boot Spring where I had two more individuals which eventually showed but still not very well. I continued down the trail past the springs where I found another interesting warbler. The bird was in a mixed species and was singing an odd Black throated Green Warbler like song but did not appear to be a perfect BTGW. The mask of the bird was quite dark (much more like a Townsend's Warbler) but the belly was almost all white except for a hint of yellow just below the black throat, perhaps just an odd Townsend's Warbler.  A very interesting bird to be sure. Although it was still very comfortable in the shade of the upper mountains I knew I had a long walk back out through Laguna Meadow, much of which would be put in the open sun. I started down and while still up in the oaks I had two more singing Colima Warblers (bringing my total for the morning to five). I also got my best views of the species on my down as well as the best photos I was able to get. By the time I reached the parking lot in the basin it was early afternoon and very hot so I got rehydrated before making a short walk on the more level Window Trail before starting my way back toward Marathon arriving back there for an early dinner before making another stop to the nearby Colorado Park which produced some more new species for the trip but nothing too unusual.
Black throated Sparrow, South Llano River SP, Junction, TX, Apr 11, 2017
My last full day in Texas was the worst weather wise but was not totally lost as a large portion of the day was spent driving back to Austin. I had more and more clouds and eventually rain as I drove east. I made another stop at South Llano River SP but due to occasional rain I didn't stay as long as I had on the previous day there. I made it back to the Austin area by early afternoon where I tried my luck in finding a reported Yellow throated Warbler at Common Fords Park. A severe thunderstorm was rapidly approaching so I was unable to locate the bird but the small park was quite birdy and would certainly have been worth a bit more time exploring as it looked primed to produce good stuff but it was not to be on this trip. Overall for the trip I ended up with 120 species with six of those being life birds (Golden cheeked Warbler, Black capped Vireo, Scaled Quail, Colima Warbler, Black chinned Sparrow and Cassin's Sparrow) bringing my life list to 1305.

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