It was quite easy to locate the Rio Grande specialty birds like Green Jay, Kiskadee, Olive Sparrow, ect. Most of the birds can be found at various feeders.
Although I didn't see anything "rare", I was quite pleased with finding singing Audubon's Orioles at Salineno. Another spectacle to watch was this Ringed Kingfisher take a huge fish and beat it against the tree until it died, then managed to choke it down! I didn't think it would be possible.
Mcallen holds a reliable staging spot for Green Parakeets in the vicinity of 10th street and Dove. They were not hard to find.
Here is a list of the 17 life birds I picked up on the trip:
I spent a lot more time looking at butterflies than I did birds. My first full day, and my last full day were spent entirely at the National Butterfly Center in Mission, Texas. The first day was the annual butterfly count, where I had a crash course in 65 species of butterflies at the gardens alone! Jeff Glassberg, along with all the other sharp butterfly observers really helped get me on my feet, especially with the skippers. I stopped by the gardens every day except when I went to South Padre, and every day held a different host of species. 93 species for the trip was quite exciting. Below are some pictures you may enjoy.
|Nothing says "tropical" quite like the Guava Skipper. This one photographed at Estero Llano|
|My first unusual butterfly of the trip came quite quickly in the form of a Coyote Cloudywing. This one at the NBC.|
|Gray Crackers were hard to come by, but this one flushed from a bait log, blowing its cover. Photographed at the NBC.|
|Wouldn't want to leave out the showy Mexican Bluewing, quite common in the shaded woods in the LRGV. This one at the NBC.|
|Another rare species, the Mercurial Skipper, put on quite a show at the NBC for our count. These are strays from Mexico.|
|Hairstreaks were hard to come by due to the drought, but this Mallow Scrub-Hairstreak displayed quite nicely.|
|One of the best butterflies of the trip, in my opinion, was this Pale-spotted Leafwing, a new species in NA even for Glassberg. This guy showed up for only ~5 minutes on count day and was never seen again.|
|I was happy to see this White Angled-Sulphur on count day, one I wasn't sure I would see. This was the only one seen the entire trip.|
|When they are around, the Red-bordered Pixie is hard to miss! The NBC is a great place to see this species, active mostly in the morning and evening.|
|It would be crazy not to mention the longtails. 5 species were seen. The White-striped Longtail was a treat.|
|Western Pygmy Blue|
|Mallow Scrub Hairstreak|
|Tropical Checkered Skipper|
|Large Orange Sulphur|
|Southern Broken Dash|
|Laviana White Skipper|
|White Checkered Skipper|
|Turk's Cap Skipper|
|Great Southern White|
|Gold Spotted Aguna|
|Celias Roadside Skipper|
I have many more pictures of the butterflies, but just not enough time to edit them all. I leave for Alaska on Friday. I will be doing a 6 week winter seabird observing position aboard the USCGC Healy Icebreaker. The route takes us from Seward, through Unimak Pass, through the Bearing Sea, into the Chukchi Sea, back through the Bearing Sea, with disembarkment in Dutch Harbor. It is uncertain what I will see out there, given the time of year and the minimal daylight hours, but it is sure to be exciting!