Monday, March 13, 2017

Down in the Valley

I was giving a program at Quinta Mazatlan May 9 so I headed down early looking for some Texas Rio Grande Valley birds I needed before my evening program. I left the house at 3 am and made it to South Padre Island by 10 am. My thought was I still needed Aplomado Falcon and would check for it on my way to the island and on the way back if needed.

I stopped at my favorite Falcon spot but no falcons, but a couple of Cassin's Sparrows were singing for Year Bird 322. On to the island.

At the Convention Center I found only winter resident passerines and now new shorebirds or terns on the sand. I walked the boardwalk looking for birds there. I found pretty fast a Green Heron for Year Bird 323. More searching hoping for an American Bittern. No luck and decided I was wasting time looking for birds I could see without a road trip, so I headed to the mid-valley.

Oh did I mention it was the first part of spring break on the island? I made the colossal mistake of stopping at Whataburger to grab a bite.  It was packed and I'm sure I was the oldest person in the dining room by a couple if decades! Even worse many weren't Texans so the menu choices had to be explained to each, Not my most time efficient stop.

At Port Isabel Reservoir I found a Wilson's Phalarope for Year Bird 324.

I took my lunch out to scan again for Aplomado Falcon. At the official viewing site I did find a distance pair of Aplomado Falcon's jousting for Year Bird 325. I hurried over to Estero Llano Grande State Park and made it with about 70 minutes to look for a Northern Beardless-Tyrannulet.

I did find the Rose-throated Becard, but no Tyrannulet. I had a few minutes left in my day and I decided to go check the Progresso Grain Silos. It didn't take long to locate a dozen Yellow-headed Blackbirds for Year Bird 326.

The river at Salineno, TX
The program on my 2015 Big Year went great, it felt like one of the best I've given. After a great night at the Alamo Inn I headed out for the upper Valley. If your in the RGV for a birding trip you can't go wrong with this birder-centric inn. It was my conversation with my Keith the owner that convinced me the upper valley was where I needed to start my day.

At 7:10 am I was on the river at Salineno. As I got out of my car an Ash-throated Flycatcher sand its dawn song for Year Bird 327. I got the scope out started looking for fly-bys on the river.  After about 40 minutes a Groove-billed Ani  popped in and called and posed for year bird 328.

An Indiana birder joined me and a Red-billed Pigeon flew over our heads for Year Bird 329.

At the feeders Altamira Orioles were putting on a show, 3-4 working around us, Green Jay and Golden-fronted Woodpeckers too. Then myself and one of the hosts said together "that's him!" An Audubon's Oriole was singing behind us for Year Bird 330. While I did eventually see him I managed no picture but I did manage to record his song.

Red-billed Pigeon
I headed over to the Starr County Park hoping for a Clay-colored Sparrow. I circled the park with nothing but Lark Sparrows. I was almost back to my car when I heard a Red-billed Pigeon call from an Ebony Tree I approached the three and before I got within 50 feet a pigeon jetted out and left the park. I was walking back to the car and another two came from another Ebony Tree. These landed in trees not far away and one called again. They were easily spooked but I managed a few photos of one and even a recording.

I saw a total of three pigeons in the park and heard a forth off at a distance. They called a few times every 5 minutes or so over the 40 minutes I observed them. If I were looking for Red-billed Pigeon I would pull into the park and stop near the Ebony trees spaced out on your left as you enter the park. Park and listen for the pigeons to call, They seemed to call ever 5 minutes. Once you hear one approach the tree very carefully. Stop about 100 feet away and listen and scan. They pigeons moved in the tree quite a bit so you should be able to find them. With some luck you should be able to see and hear them too.

1 comment:

  1. Glad your presentation went well. Thanks for the Pigeon advice. Road trip in my near future.

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