I still needed Botteri's Sparrow and that couldn't wait for the fall season in the RGV. My original plan was to head for Old Port Isabel Road and look for it, but on a whim at the last minute decided to try the Palo Alto Battlefield NHP. I had been told by several this was a good site for Botteri's but had never been there.
Palo Alto Battlefield NHP
Not far away I say a small bird teed up on a stick. Getting glass on the bird it was indeed a Botteri's Sparrow calling for Year Bird 454. It posed for pictures and I recorded some good audio of it calling, See my eBird checklist here for the recording.
I headed over to South Padre Island hoping for at least one of the three eastern migrant birds I still needed. The South Padre Island Convention Center was hopping when I got there. Literally hopping. It was Thrush-a-polooza and there were Swainson's Thrushes and Wood Thrushes all over the lawn. Warblers were active too, I tallied eight species of warblers. Lots of flycatchers and after staring down several empids my Jedi mind tricks worked and the force was strong in me and one started softly calling peet, peet, peet. letting me finally count Alder Flycatcher as Year Bird 455.
I made it back to the mainland and checked in at the Alamo Inn. I've stayed a couple of time now at the always comfortable and welcoming Alamo Inn. I highly recommend this Birder-centric Inn for a birding trip to the RGV.
Tuesday morning I went looking for Hook-billed Kite. I started at Chihuahua Woods Preserve not far from Bentsen State Park. I'd never been to this site before but Hook-billed Kite nested here in the past and there aren't a lot of visits in eBird so it looked worth checking out. There was a far amount of snail shells on the ground but I didn't see any evidence of live snails, something a bird that eats snails would need. I spent about an hour there and while I had 29 species including Gray Hawk and Northern Beardless-Tyrannulet, no kites.
Santa Ana NWR
I realized why I don't bird Santa Ana much anymore. It makes me sad to see it. I first visited Santa Ana 23 years ago. I'm sure the decline that makes me sad was well underway by them, but in the last 23 years most of the ebony and cedar-elm trees that made Santa Ana a lush place are gone and nothing but their skeletons remains. Those trees need annual flooding that doesn't happen anymore. I actually looked walking the Tower Trail back to the visitor center and saw none of either species. Sad, go see it before its all gone.