Sunday, March 11, 2012

More Valley Pics

As promised, here are a few more pictures from my recent trip to Texas.

It would be a sin not to show off the stunning Green Jays:

The Great Kiskadee has to be one of my favorites:

White-eyed Vireos were busy singing away:

On South Padre Island, Black Skimmers were doing what they do best:

Also on South Padre Island, this Tropical Kingbird was quite vocal:

And last, but certainly not least, is the bright orange Altamira Oriole:

I will be in Florida, on a non-birding trip with some buddies for the next week. No birding for me. You can bet I'll be right back at it when I get back to Michigan, though.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The Lower Rio Grande Valley- 2012

Late October 2011 was my last trip to the magical place that is the LRGV. I just ended my contract with Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory on 3/2 and Garrett, Mike and I hit the road, driving through the night to reach Salineno by morning. A Brown Jay was/has been seen throughout the winter, so we had high hopes.

3/3 we started bright and early at the river at Salineno, where I was quite happy to get my life Red-billed Pigeon in the form of two close fly-bys. The Brown Jay wasn't to be seen at either Salineno or Chapeno. We also struck out on the Tropical Parula at Quinta Mazatlan, the Rose-throated Becard at Estero, and White-collared Seedeaters in Zapata. Overall, a disappointing day.

3/4 We hit Al Williams house who has been hosting a Crimson-collared Grosbeak all winter. More misfortune was had here, as it appears the bird left a day before we showed up. We did get Red-crowned Parrots, a small consolation.
Things got better at Frontera Audubon Thicket when Mike spotted the silent Golden-crowned Warbler. I also found a Two-barred Flasher (butterfly), which was a lifer as well.
We hit Estero Llano Grande again in hopes the Becard would show. We found it feeding in a fruiting Mulberry, and again a few "streets" over in the tropical zone.
I also got my lifer Fulvous Whistling-Duck at the Progresso Ponds.

3/5 Tired of chasing rarities and sitting at feeders, we decided today was the day to do some field birding. We drove to South Padre Island where we enjoyed great looks at Skimmers, Sandwich Terns, a white-morph Reddish Egret dancing, Roseate Spoonbills, among others.
We also birded a few spots looking for Green Kingfisher which turned up nothing. We did see a small flock of Green Parakeets at 10th and Dove.

3/6 We went back to Salineno since the Brown Jay was still making appearances on the 5th. Of course, the bird decided not to show up by 11:30am, so we started the 16 hours drive back to Tucson.
We stopped at San Ygnacio where Seedeaters had been previously reported. Again, nothing.
One last stop in Laredo at Zacate Creek made us realize we had no idea where to look. We finally found the trail after searching a less-than-adequate portion of the creek (where we did get Green Kingfisher), and we heard the sweet song of a White-collared Seedeater singing away. Garrett first located the bird behind some cane, trying to avoid the wind.

I could go into a lot more detail and post a lot more pics, but I'm dead tired. Look for another post soon as I am birding Tubac tomorrow (3/8) in hopes of an early fly-over Common Black Hawk, then a quick stop at the Salton Sea on the way to San Diego. I will have 2 days to bird San Diego. The year list currently stands at 331. I didn't see year-bird #300 in 2011 until the end of April, so I'm quite happy with the progress this year.

I have 10 gigs of pics to sort through, I'll try to put up a slide-show type post later.