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Rio Grande Valley birds, butterflies, dragonflies through the eyes of an ex-Buckeye

Nov 2006 thru Feb 2007
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August 21, 2009 at Estero Llano Grande State Park esp Guava Skipper
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Estero Weekly Butterfly Walks 2008-9 #1-15
Estero Butterfly Walks 2009 17-30
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11/29/06 Harlingen Texas  My first day a COOPER'S HAWK zoomed in overehead landing with a bang on one of the bare branches of the big Ficus tree in the front yard. She was checking on the millet feeder at Rick-the-Neighbor's, hoping for an unsuspecting House Sparrow. Overhead Turkey Vultures and Rock Doves circled albeit at different altitudes. A Northern Mockingbird on the back electrical wire was familiar, even though I knew of only one regular Mockingbird back home in Defiance County Ohio. A single European Starling was sure a step down from the hundreds everywhere in Ohio. The most common bird here is still enchanting and wondrous because it sure isn't an Ohio bird-- GREAT-TAILED GRACKLES are everywhere in large numbers. They're big enough to eat! A GOLDEN-FRONTED WOODPECKER shows up occassionally on the telephone pole out back, looking for all the world like a RedBellied from home. Next door two CURVE-BILLED THRASHERS posed on the peak of the house, their bright orange eyes a contrast to the plain grey of everything else.  We live on the very south edge of Harlingen, the huge mowed lawn of the Catholic Church and a huge expanse of pasture land abut our back fence. This encourages the GREAT KISKADEE, who just now flew by and drank from the mud puddle outside the office window. Mourning Doves mix with INCA DOVES at the street corners, apparently eating stones for grit. A half-mile away (Morris/Rangerville) BLACK-BELLIED WHISTLING-DUCKS are always on display in the front yard of a big house with a tree-shaded lagoon. A mile away (Morris/Ed Carey) we counted TWENTY LONG-BILLED CURLEWS in the field. We've been unpacking so much, but I still haven't found the bird feeders so they're not up yet. At the mall to get a haircut, I couldn't help but notice THREE YELLOW-THROATED WARBLERS in a tree in the parking lot! I've only seen Canada Geese as a few fly-overs here so far.  They tell me they couldn't have been.  But they were.  Right here in town RINGED and Belted Kingfishers intermingle on the wires. Killdeer frequent empty lots, even next to grocery stores. A BUFF-BELLIED HUMMINGBIRD appears occassionally next door, but I can never find the binoculars fast enough to get a close look at this relatively huge bird.

One day we took a break to take to South Padre Island, where LAUGHING GULLS (rare in Ohio) are the dominant bird, even more so than the close-second GreatTailed Grackles. there was a single RING-BILLED GULL, a reminder of home. Sanderlings, Ruddy Turnstones, and Willets (not exactly common in Ohio) were all over the beach, remniscent of Florida. The Terns were in the same category (Gull-Billed, Royal and Forster's). Harriers soared over the grassy beaches near the Convention Center. On the bulletin board at the tourist's information we saw advertised a tour.

Arriving at Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge in Cameron County December 2, I found out the posted information was old and there was no tour, so we took the 15-mile Bayside Drive: hunters were everywhere, but in this protected zone was a huge buck with many tines, the first thing we saw as we entered. I didn't really bird since I had a non-birder along. I did see some great things though. The numerous Mockingbirds were outnumbered by the LOGGERHEAD SHRIKES, the Shrike we would NOT expect at this time of year at home! At the appropriately named Redhead Ridge Overlook were thousands of Redhead ducks! In fact, I didn't see any other kind of duck there. We also saw lots of Egrets: Great, Snowy and Cattle, with Great Blue Herons, too, just like home. Black Vultures and Kestrels and RedTailed Hawks were here too, but the stars were a WHITE-TAILED HAWK and many HARRIS'S HAWKS. There were sandpipers I didn't slow down to identify (probably Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs with Dunlin). Sandhill Cranes flew overhead in flocks. A single WHITE-WINGED DOVE sat on a low branch by the roadside, unperturbed as we stopped and admired him. Eastern and Western Meadowlarks mingle here. In the parking lot our Ohio symbol, a bright red male NORTHERN CARDINAL, mingled with GREEN JAYS.

Yesterday needing a break from unpacking, I noted on the Texas bird page excitement at McAllen's Anzalduas County Park. At first I was distracted by the many big birds: a dozen or so GREEN JAYS, a half-dozen COUCH'S KINGBIRDS, a couple Kiskadees, etc before I finally started concentrating on the smaller ones: a YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKER, BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHER, BLACK-THROATED GREEN WARBLERS, an EASTERN PHOEBE, BLACK-and-WHITE WARBLERS, a PINE WARBLER, COOTS-- hey was I back in Ohio?!! Then I noticed the Titmice were BLACK-CRESTED, and in the flock of warblers was one I had never ever seen before, two I had been warned about on the rare bird alert, two that were rare even in Texas, two that were rare anywhere outside of California basically, two that I had missed when I was in California last month, one would be my first lifebird since the move: a

HERMIT WARBLER

and a TOWNSEND'S WARBLER

December 16, 2006 This morning a flock of 74 Sandhill Cranes flew over the house. Yesterday two flocks (one 24 and one 18) of Black-Bellied Whistling-Ducks flew over the house. I'm almost used to the Kiskadees and Curve-Billed Thrashers in the yard. Thursday’s lunch I took at the park closest to us, Dixieland Park. It had many birds! 800+ Lesser Scaup, an Osprey, Forster's and Caspian Terns, a female Black-Throated Blue Warbler, a YellowThroated Warbler and many Yellow-Rumped Warblers. Eastern Bluebirds and Spotted Sandpiper were a surprise! Favorite bird? A pair of Lesser Goldfinches seen clearly! Wow, they were astounding!!!!

December 18, 2006 Pendleton Park where we found the typical birds. By that I mean typical for Texas; they're still really neat to me. Among the domestic ducks there (a couple Crested Ducks, a half-dozen or so Mallard mixes, six Peking ducks, 16 Muscovys) were 74 Black-Bellied Whistling Ducks that were remarkably tame although wild (see picture above). There was one Mottled Duck too, a South Texas specialty. Only three GreatTailed Grackles, threeGoldenFronted Woodpeckers, and the first Ladder-Backed Woodpecker in this park. Turkey Vulture, RedTailed Hawk, two dozen House Sparrows, a YellowRumped Warbler were Ohio reminders. I have only walked around the little fountain during my time there, so there may have been more in this distinctly recreational park.

December 20, 2006 This morning I crept out of the house early for an Arroyo Colorado Audubon Society tour of the Hugh Ramsey Park here in Harlingen. It was pretty fun, very windy and warm (80+ degrees). Highlights for me were BlueHeaded Vireo a foot away, well-sighted BuffBellied Hummingbird... At home in Harlingen, as we painted our new Lowe's 10x10 shed a WHITE-TAILED (BlackShouldered?) KITE floated overhead! Wow! Just as I was getting used to BlackBellied WhistlingDucks flying west to the reservoir in the morning and east at night (94 last night, 72 the night before, and probably a lot more when I wasn't looking), plus the usual pair of Great Kiskadees, the pair of CurveBilled Thrashers, the Mockingbird, all calling the yard home. A Loggerhead Shrike at the Dixieland Park was nice, too.

December 22, 2006 It's a beautiful sunny seventy-degree day again! At Dixieland Park were FOUR SCISSOR-TAILED FLYCATCHERS, and Northern Shovelers were visible among all the usual Lesser Scaup. I still marvel at the BlackBellied Whistling-Ducks.

December 27, 2006 I only half-slept last night, since I haven't yet found my alarm clock and I wanted to be at Hugh Ramsey Park here in Harlingen at 7am for the weekly bird walk. I awakened every so often all night, so I was still pretty tired but the first bird I saw was a  PAuRAQuE.  And how about a Yellow-Headed Amazon?! A family of four from Dallas joined us; they were very amiable and we had a good walk. Really nice birds were a male Pyrhulloxia, a Verdin, a small flock of beautiful Lesser Goldfinches, but of course the regulars (Kiskadees, Eastern Phoebe, YellowRumped and OrangeCrowned Warblers, Spotted Sandpipers, Lincoln Sparrow, Bewick's Wren) were nice also. Robins are rare here, but we saw one today! Our group leader said it was the first one he's ever seen at this park. Dixieland Park Imagine four white pelicans wheeling overhead, a WhiteTailed Kite stopping midair, then starting, then stopping… awesome against the blue sky. Loggerhead Shrike, Couch's Kingbird, another flock of Lesser Goldfinches… beautiful day.

December 29, 2006 We got to Chapeno just as the objects of our desire was leaving-- three BROWN JAYS. We waited and waited and waited with four people from New Jersey (2000 miles), six people from Austin (300 miles away), and two people from Fort Worth (500 miles). 2:00, 3:00, 4:00pm. We reminded ourselves that this bird was first seen in the US in 2003, and that only 4 were seen in 2003, and this month 3 were being seen right here, beginning Dec 23. In between time there were many good birds to watch: Gadwall 70, American Wigeon 394, Mottled Duck 59, Blue-winged Teal 6, Green-winged Teal 2, Pied-billed Grebe 6, American White Pelican 42, Neotropic Cormorant 44, Double-crested Cormorant 2, Great Blue Heron 1, Great Egret 5, Snowy Egret 2,Turkey Vulture 4, Osprey 1 (eating a fish nonchalantly, ignoring us as we watched), Gray Hawk 1, Black Hawk 1, Crested Caracara 1, American Coot 15, Spotted Sandpiper 2, White-winged Dove 1, Inca Dove 20, Common Ground-Dove 18, Ringed Kingfisher 3, Golden-fronted Woodpecker 3, Ladder-backed Woodpecker 2, Eastern Phoebe 1,Vermilion Flycatcher (brilliant male) 1, Great Kiskadee 2, Couch's Kingbird 1, Green Jay 8, Bewick's Wren 2, Ruby-crowned Kinglet 5, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher 3, American Robin 4, Northern Mockingbird 1, Orange-crowned Warbler 1, Nashville Warbler 1, Yellow-rumped Warbler 5, Pine Warbler 1, Common Yellowthroat 1, Red-winged Blackbird 30, Great-tailed Grackle 75, a handsome male Altamira Oriole 1, House Sparrow 14. Finally at 5:00pm almost on the dot THREE BROWN JAYS, an adult (black billed) and two juvenile (yellow-billed), flew into view from Mexico across the Rio Grande river! We got excellent views in flight across a gorgeous blue sky. We got gorgeous views as they sat in the tops of some excellent pines. They then flew to the office of this RV Rio park, where the owner graciously ushered us onto the deck of the swimming pool where we could easily view the birds at the feeders. WOW! No binoculars required. But my camera's batteries were dead from all the time I spent fiddling with it to pass time.

December 31, 2006 at beloved South Padre Island. First stop: the convention center's birding trail.  I was quite astonished. It was very birdy, and although we didn't start birding until 5pm there was a lot to see. We spoke at length to a group from Wisconsin and a family from Illinois, but we did manage to see some birds: a pair of Wigeon, an American Bittern pumped away, just two Coots, 2 Tricolor Herons, 2 Great Egrets, 2 Snowy Egrets, a Reddish Egret, an adult Little Blue Heron walked right up to us, a Great Blue Heron (quite the variety!), at least 500 Laughing Gulls, 2 RingBilled Gulls (at least, they were pretty distant), a Moorhen at very close range, a Mockingbird, 48 Brown Pelicans, a PiedBilled Grebe, 26 Pintail Ducks, 2 RedWinged Blackbirds, 188 Black Skimmers (at least!), 68 Terns, pretty evenly divided among Caspians and Royals, 2 Common Yellowthroats, 2 Marsh Wrens, 4 YellowRumped Warblers, and 32 Sandpipers (Least with one LongBilled Dowitcher). Wow! At 6:15 the sun was almost entirely gone, so we then went to the shops that lined the streets, picking up birthday presents along the way. Dinner was splendiferous at the Palmetto Inn.

January 1, 2007 Briefly visited the crowded Dixieland Park: at least ten White Pelicans, hordes of Lesser Scaup and BlackBellied Whistling Ducks, some Mockingbirds, a few Tree Swallows, DoubleCrested and Neotropical Cormorants, PiedBilled Grebes, Coots, Snowy Egrets, lots of Rock Pigeons and GreatTailed Grackles.

January 2, 2007 Sabal Palm Sanctuary. What a beautiful place. I got skunked on the search for the GrayCrowned Yellowthroat, but I did see two male Common Yellowthroats, and Gadwall 40, Mottled Duck 9, Blue-winged Teal 12, Northern Shoveler 5, Least Grebe 9, Pied-billed Grebe 1, American White Pelican 300, Black Vulture 3, Turkey Vulture 20, American Kestrel 1, American Coot 39, Laughing Gull 1, Mourning Dove 1, White-tipped Dove 2, Groove-billed Ani 2, Ringed Kingfisher 1, Golden-fronted Woodpecker 5, Ladder-backed Woodpecker 1, Eastern Phoebe 3, Great Kiskadee 1, Couch's Kingbird 3, Loggerhead Shrike 1, White-eyed Vireo 1, Blue-headed Vireo 1, Green Jay 3, Black-crested Titmouse 6, Bewick's Wren 3, Ruby-crowned Kinglet 18, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher 4, Orange-crowned Warbler 4, Nashville Warbler 2, BlueWinged Warbler 1, Yellow-rumped Warbler 35, Black-throated Green Warbler 4, Northern Cardinal 1, Great-tailed Grackle 6. Then we went to the Brownsville dump, only a few miles away. They expect birders obviously, and birdwatchers are common here because of (and where I was skunked on) the Taumalipas Crow. We were there only about ten minutes, but still saw about 20 RAVENS, 4 CARACARAS, a LongBilled Curlew, tons of Gulls (probably 99% Laughing, but I did see a couple RingBilled), tons of Vultures (mostly Turkey but a few Black), plus Starlings and GreatTailed Grackles.  I'll be back when I can take my time. 

January 3, 2007 Wednesday Harlingen City Lake: fox squirrels and 3 domestic muscovies... Black-bellied Whistling-Duck 360, Common Loon 2, Pied-billed Grebe 1, Neotropic Cormorant 10, Double-crested Cormorant 16, Great Blue Heron 1, Snowy Egret 1, Osprey 1, Sharp-shinned Hawk 1, American Coot 30, Spotted Sandpiper 1, Laughing Gull 17, Forster's Tern 2, Rock Pigeon 13, White-winged Dove 12, Golden-fronted Woodpecker 5, Vermilion Flycatcher 1, the first bird I saw as I walked up to the lake, a beautiful red male!, Great Kiskadee 3, Couch's Kingbird 2, Ruby-crowned Kinglet 6, Northern Mockingbird 4, Orange-crowned Warbler 1, Yellow-rumped Warbler 4, Great-tailed Grackle 58, House Sparrow 10. Arroyo Park, not far from home, just from the biking path bridge north to business 77 bridge. always verging on rain, so not great birding at all: Cattle Egret 1, American Kestrel 3, Rock Pigeon 12, Eastern Phoebe 1, Ruby-crowned Kinglet 1, Northern Mockingbird 4, Orange-crowned Warbler 1, Yellow-rumped Warbler 2, Cassin's Sparrow 1, Lincoln's Sparrow 3, Great-tailed Grackle

January 4, 2007 Dixieland Park: Dirt road alongside the reservoir was not driven-- too muddy from yesterday's .75" of rain. Black-bellied Whistling-Duck 80, Northern Shoveler 16, Redhead 8, Ring-necked Duck 25, Lesser Scaup 250, Common Loon 1, Pied-billed Grebe 2, Eared Grebe 1, American White Pelican 16, Neotropic Cormorant 3, Double-crested Cormorant 15, Great Blue Heron 1, Great Egret 1, Snowy Egret 6, White-tailed Kite 1, Red-shouldered Hawk 1, American Coot 32, Laughing Gull 5, Forster's Tern 2, Rock Pigeon 68, Golden-fronted Woodpecker 4, Loggerhead Shrike 1, Tree Swallow 16, Ruby-crowned Kinglet 1, Northern Mockingbird 1, American Pipit 3, SpRagUe's Pipit  Couldn't believe it when I saw the light legs and striped backs! And then a group playing frisbee-golf almost hit me with one... back to reality, Yellow-rumped Warbler 9, Great-tailed Grackle 6

January 5, 2007 Friday I ventured over to Pendleton Park. It's very recreational, but there was the fourth VERMILLION FLYCATCHER I've ever seen in my life. He was gorgeous and very cooperative. I've gotta learn how to take good pictures of birds, I think, and then I remember: there are already so many good pictures of birds. Otherwise the birds at the park included Black-bellied Whistling-Duck 30, Mottled Duck 1, Turkey Vulture 1, American Kestrel 1, American Coot 5, Rock Pigeon 7, Mourning Dove 38, Inca Dove 6, Golden-fronted Woodpecker 4, Couch's Kingbird 2, Ruby-crowned Kinglet 6, Northern Mockingbird 4, Yellow-rumped Warbler 6, Great-tailed Grackle 2.

January 6, 2007 Saturday Woke up just in time to make it to the Edinburg Scenic Wetlands for a guided walk. Esalia (aka Sally) was a beautiful girl, and a great guide. The time flew by, and we were half an hour past the time alotted before she checked her watch. Diane from Medina County Ohio was there, as well as Dick and Jane from the Dakotas. They were excited by the Cardinals, which don't occur in the Dakotas. So, we had John and Diane, Sally, Dick and Jane! My first visit here. Gadwall 2, Blue-winged Teal 46, Northern Shoveler 280, Green-winged Teal 22, Lesser Scaup 33, Ruddy Duck 80, Pied-billed Grebe 1, American White Pelican 370, Neotropic Cormorant 7, Double-crested Cormorant 18, Great Blue Heron 11, Great Egret 6, Snowy Egret 1, Black-crowned Night-Heron 15, Osprey 1, Harris's Hawk 1, Common Moorhen 16, American Coot 50, Black-necked Stilt 25, American Avocet 1, Western Sandpiper 35, Least Sandpiper 28, Long-billed Dowitcher 90, Rock Pigeon 2, Common Ground-Dove 4, Buff-bellied Hummingbird 3, Rufous Hummingbird 1, Green Kingfisher 2, Golden-fronted Woodpecker 1, Blue-headed Vireo 2, Ruby-crowned Kinglet 4, American Robin 1, Northern Mockingbird 8, Long-billed Thrasher 1, Curve-billed Thrasher 3, Nashville Warbler 3, Yellow Warbler 1, Yellow-rumped Warbler 50, Wilson's Warbler 1, Northern Cardinal 2, Great-tailed Grackle 5, Lesser Goldfinch 5, American Goldfinch 1, House Sparrow 10

January 10, 2007 Wednesday Dragged myself out of bed at 6:30 to make it the 7am tour of Hugh Ramsey Park here in Harlingen with the Audubon Society. Doris, David, and I found 2 YellowHeaded Amazons overhead, plus Black-bellied Whistling-Duck 366, Great Egret 8, Turkey Vulture 1, Harris's Hawk 2, Solitary Sandpiper 1, Mourning Dove 4, Buff-bellied Hummingbird 1, Golden-fronted Woodpecker 7, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker 1, Ladder-backed Woodpecker 2, Great Kiskadee 2, White-eyed Vireo 1, Blue-headed Vireo 4, Green Jay 1, Bewick's Wren 4, Ruby-crowned Kinglet 11, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher 1, Northern Mockingbird 6, Long-billed Thrasher 3, Curve-billed Thrasher 2, Orange-crowned Warbler 6, Yellow-rumped Warbler 11, Olive Sparrow 5, Lincoln's Sparrow 6, Northern Cardinal 3, Great-tailed Grackle 85, Lesser Goldfinch 3, House Sparrow 3.

January 11, 2007 Thursday Harlingen Took a walk in the park across the street, on Rangerville Road. It's just bare grass, with a winding asphalt path, but there were still the birds: Inca Doves, GoldenFronted Woodpecker, 4 Great Kiskadees, the starlings, house sparrows, great-tailed grackles, and overhead a soaring CARACARA!

January 12, 2007 The beautiful Quinta Mazatlan in McAllen: Plain Chachalaca 6, American White Pelican 14, Turkey Vulture 1, White-tailed Kite 2, Rock Pigeon 2, Golden-fronted Woodpecker 4, Couch's Kingbird 1, Green Jay 6, Black-crested Titmouse 3, Ruby-crowned Kinglet 4, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher 1, Clay-colored Robin 2, American Robin 1, Northern Mockingbird 4, Cedar Waxwing 51, Orange-crowned Warbler 3, Yellow-rumped Warbler 1, Black-throated Green Warbler 1, Northern Cardinal 1, House Sparrow 50. I hadn't seen the Chachalas and ClayColored Robins since we moved to the Valley, so that was very nice.

January 21, 2007 Hugh Ramsey Park here in Harlingen. It was a total delight, with the day so perfect weatherwise, and nice people with which to chat-- a family of four from Oklahoma, a pair from Canada etc. I could wear just a T-shirt. The Yuccas above (not Ohio's y. filamentosa, but big as a tree) were in bloom, two months ahead of time the Master Naturalists told me! A beautiful White-Tailed Hawk sailed in from the horizon, slowly circling closer and closer until he was directly overhead. Not once did he flap his wings. A Sharp-Shinned Hawk flap-glided in, sending the passerines scurrying for cover. Later in the walk, I startled him sitting on a dead snag. It was great seeing him so close. A male Pyhrruloxia put on quite a show, too. Other birds included: Turkey Vulture 1, Spotted Sandpiper 1, Mourning Dove 1, Inca Dove 1, Golden-fronted Woodpecker 7, Ladder-backed Woodpecker 1, Eastern Phoebe 2, Great Kiskadee 2, Blue-headed Vireo 1, Black-crested Titmouse 2, Verdin 1, Bewick's Wren 9, Ruby-crowned Kinglet 11, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher 2, American Robin 2, Northern Mockingbird 4, Curve-billed Thrasher 3, Orange-crowned Warbler 4, Yellow-rumped Warbler 10 (both warblers undercounted), Olive Sparrow 1 (poor view), House Sparrow 3, which is pretty good when one considers I went in the afternoon when birds are least active

January 25, 2007 I walked a few minutes around Pendleton Park: Black-bellied Whistling-Duck 16, Mottled Duck 1, Green Heron 1, American Kestrel 1, American Coot 4, Mourning Dove 2, Inca Dove 2, Least Flycatcher 1, Vermilion Flycatcher 1 (beautiful male), Ruby-crowned Kinglet 2, Northern Mockingbird 2, Yellow-rumped Warbler 2, Great-tailed Grackle

January 28, 2007 Laguna Madre Trail on South Padre Island. That was a very great time with lots of birds, especially the very tame egrets, herons and moorhens, so used to people visiting them on the boardwalks: Blue-winged Teal 6, Northern Shoveler 8, Northern Pintail 4, Pied-billed Grebe 1, American White Pelican 325, Brown Pelican 430, Neotropic Cormorant 2, Double-crested Cormorant 10, Great Blue Heron 1, Great Egret 2, Little Blue Heron 2, Tricolored Heron 1, Reddish Egret 1, Cattle Egret 3, Roseate Spoonbill 3, Turkey Vulture 1, Osprey 1, Northern Harrier 2, Harris's Hawk 1, American Kestrel 1, Peregrine Falcon 2, Common Moorhen 3, American Coot 3, Snowy Plover 1, Wilson's Plover 1, Semipalmated Plover 1, Piping Plover 3, Killdeer 1 (five Plovers!), Greater Yellowlegs 1, Lesser Yellowlegs 1, Willet 1, Long-billed Curlew 1, Ruddy Turnstone 10, Sanderling 40, Western Sandpiper 2, Least Sandpiper 55, Laughing Gull 190, Ring-billed Gull 38, Herring Gull 1, Caspian Tern 3, Royal Tern 33, Forster's Tern 8, Black Skimmer 1, Rock Pigeon 1, American Robin 2, Northern Mockingbird 2, Orange-crowned Warbler 1, Yellow-rumped Warbler 4, Great-tailed Grackle 30. It was very windy, so I was suprised to see this many birds.

January 29, 2007 Dixieland Park: Black-bellied Whistling-Duck 60, Lesser Scaup 765, Pied-billed Grebe 3, Eared Grebe 6, Neotropic Cormorant 2, Double-crested Cormorant 83, Snowy Egret 1, Turkey Vulture 10, Osprey 1, White-tailed Kite 1, Northern Harrier 1, Red-tailed Hawk 2, American Kestrel 1, American Coot 42, Laughing Gull 17, Forster's Tern 2, Rock Pigeon 5, Mourning Dove 30, Common Ground-Dove 1, Golden-fronted Woodpecker 3, Ladder-backed Woodpecker 1, Tree Swallow 22, Ruby-crowned Kinglet 1, Northern Mockingbird 2, European Starling 3, American Pipit 18, Yellow-rumped Warbler 12, Black-and-white Warbler 1, Red-winged Blackbird 400, Great-tailed Grackle 10, Lesser Goldfinch 20, American Goldfinch 20.

February 2, 2007 Today after work, I went to Tiocano Lake, only a few short miles away from home. I had wanted to take the Sunset Tour at Laguna Atascosa, but they were fully booked--until the 17th! Instead, I looked at the Coastal Birding Trail on the website and discovered this site unknown to me previously. Just 77N, exit WilsonRd west, to the dead end. Not the peccary and bobcat and nilgai I might've seen on the tour, but some very nice birds nonetheless: Gadwall 16, Mottled Duck 8, Blue-winged Teal 25, Cinnamon Teal 8 (I haven't seen this bird since San Francisco where I saw a distant bird bobbing on the ocean. This was truly momentous and stirring. What gorgeous birds!), Northern Shoveler 77, Green-winged Teal 10, Pied-billed Grebe 2, Neotropic Cormorant 1, Double-crested Cormorant 4, Great Blue Heron 3, Great Egret 14, Snowy Egret 12, Cattle Egret 20 (The Snowy and Cattle Egrets were standing together lookin cold, even though it was at least 60 degrees outside), Turkey Vulture 1, Osprey 1, White-tailed Kite 1, Sharp-shinned Hawk 1, American Coot 40, Wilson's Plover 1, Killdeer 6, Black-necked Stilt 20, Spotted Sandpiper 1, Least Sandpiper 4, Long-billed Dowitcher 21, Mourning Dove 1, Tree Swallow 14, Barn Swallow 1, Northern Mockingbird 1, Yellow-rumped Warbler 3, Great-tailed Grackle 3

February 3, 2007 I ventured to Dixieland Park Only domestic duck was a muscovy; only explored water areas due to heavy recreational use, including picnickers, kids trying to catch coots, and frisbee golfers: Black-bellied Whistling-Duck 30, Snow Goose 48 (first I've seen since our move), Gadwall 20, Mottled Duck 2, Lesser Scaup 458, Pied-billed Grebe 3, Eared Grebe 7, American White Pelican 9, Neotropic Cormorant 2, Double-crested Cormorant 36, Great Blue Heron 2, Great Egret 1, Green Heron 2, Black-crowned Night-Heron 4, Turkey Vulture 2, Osprey 1, White-tailed Kite 2 (both hovering over the open field-- stupendous!), Northern Harrier 1, Red-tailed Hawk 1, Crested Caracara 1, American Coot 44, Spotted Sandpiper 1, Laughing Gull 19, Forster's Tern 1, Rock Pigeon 30, Mourning Dove 1, Inca Dove 1, Belted Kingfisher 1, Golden-fronted Woodpecker 1, Couch's Kingbird 1, Tree Swallow 12, Yellow-rumped Warbler 3, Great-tailed Grackle 3, Lesser Goldfinch 3, American Goldfinch 1, House Sparrow 10.

February 4, 2007 Valley Nature Center in Weslaco Plain Chachalaca 7, White-winged Dove 6, Inca Dove 15, Buff-bellied Hummingbird 3, Golden-fronted Woodpecker 5, Ladder-backed Woodpecker 1, Great Kiskadee 2, White-eyed Vireo 1, Black-crested Titmouse 4, Ruby-crowned Kinglet 3, Orange-crowned Warbler 6, Yellow-rumped Warbler 3, Great-tailed Grackle 13, House Sparrow 50

February 5, 2007 Sabal Palm in Brownsville Today's weather was even better than yesterday's! I was looking for the ever-evasive Graycrowned Yellowthroat. I met many wonderful people including couples from MN, IL, Kalamazoo MI (who told me that it was 22 below zero back home in Michigan!), and Santa Claus IN. One group had photos of a CORAL SNAKE on their digital camera that they had taken minutes prior. One guy had actually touched its tail! He hadn't known it was poisonous at the time, but when I recited the rhyme, "Red touch yellow, Kill a fellow; Red touch black, friend of Jack," and compared the picture-- wow! This certainly preempted some pretty great luck on my part: a BOBCAT had slowly walked a resaca dike in front of me and the couple from Kalamazoo, even sitting down and staring at us at one point! And what appeared to be three Turkey Vultures coming in was actually two Turkey Vultures and a

ZONE-TAILED HAWK

that almost caught a Great Egret, alighting in a tree not far from us. Wonderful views of the Hawk both inflight and on-limb! It was a wonderful time, but once again I only explored the Resaca Loop: Gadwall 89, American Wigeon 16, Mottled Duck 18, Blue-winged Teal 6, Northern Shoveler 8, Green-winged Teal 3, Lesser Scaup 2, Plain Chachalaca 5, Least Grebe 3, Pied-billed Grebe 2, Neotropic Cormorant 1, Double-crested Cormorant 1, Great Blue Heron 1, Great Egret 1, Little Blue Heron 1, Black-crowned Night-Heron 5, Turkey Vulture 2, Osprey 1, White-tailed Kite 1, Zone-tailed Hawk 1, American Kestrel 2, Common Moorhen 2, American Coot 24, Solitary Sandpiper 1, Spotted Sandpiper 1, Mourning Dove 1, Inca Dove 1, White-tipped Dove 5, Ringed Kingfisher 1, Golden-fronted Woodpecker 4, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker 1, Ladder-backed Woodpecker 3, Eastern Phoebe 4, Great Kiskadee 4, Couch's Kingbird 1, White-eyed Vireo 1, Blue-headed Vireo 1, Green Jay 4, Chihuahuan Raven 2, Black-crested Titmouse 2, Ruby-crowned Kinglet 10, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher 2, Northern Mockingbird 1, Orange-crowned Warbler 4, Nashville Warbler 2, Yellow-rumped Warbler 29, Common Yellowthroat 1, Wilson's Warbler 1, Lark Sparrow 7, Lincoln's Sparrow 2, Northern Cardinal 5, Great-tailed Grackle 2

February 7, 2007 Dixieland Park to see the water birds for five minutes, but didn't stick around to walk around for land birds: Black-bellied Whistling-Duck 50, Redhead 2, Ring-necked Duck 6, Lesser Scaup 250, Pied-billed Grebe 2, Eared Grebe 1, American White Pelican 15, Neotropic Cormorant 2, Double-crested Cormorant 30, Great Blue Heron 3, Great Egret 4, Snowy Egret 2, Turkey Vulture 2, American Coot 25, Spotted Sandpiper 1, Laughing Gull 6, Forster's Tern 1, Rock Pigeon 30, Tree Swallow 10.

February 12, 2007 Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park  Only roads taken Hackberry to Mesquite to Roadrunner Crossing to Nopal to exit-- a small portion of this large park! Ring-necked Duck 2, Lesser Scaup 2, Plain Chachalaca 44, Pied-billed Grebe 4, Great Egret 1, Black Vulture 2, Turkey Vulture 1, Red-shouldered Hawk 1, Common Moorhen 1, American Coot 85, White-winged Dove 7, Inca Dove 4, Common Ground-Dove 1, White-tipped Dove 15, Golden-fronted Woodpecker 5, Ladder-backed Woodpecker 1, Eastern Phoebe 3, Vermilion Flycatcher 2, Great Kiskadee 5, Blue-headed Vireo 1, Green Jay 22, Black-crested Titmouse 4, House Wren 1, Ruby-crowned Kinglet 3, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher 3, Eastern Bluebird 8, American Robin 8, Northern Mockingbird 3, Orange-crowned Warbler 5, Yellow-rumped Warbler 12, Black-and-white Warbler 1, Northern Cardinal 7, Indigo Bunting14, Red-winged Blackbird 9, Great-tailed Grackle 15, Altamira Oriole 6. I dipped on all of my target birds (Ferriginous Pygmy-Owl, Tropical Parula, BlackThroated Gray Warbler, BlackHeaded Grosbeak), but it was fun and we were both home in time for supper at 6pm, the conclusion of a wonderful sunny EIGHTY-FIVE DEGREE day!

February 13, 2007 Dixieland Park There were two jackrabbits in this busy park with many people, a sunny windy evening. Black-bellied Whistling-Duck 137, Mottled Duck 4, Ring-necked Duck 2, Lesser Scaup 28, Pied-billed Grebe 8, Eared Grebe 2, American White Pelican 5, Neotropic Cormorant 2, Double-crested Cormorant 23, Great Blue Heron 2, Great Egret 1, Snowy Egret 2, Little Blue Heron 2, Black-crowned Night-Heron 2, Turkey Vulture 3, Osprey 1, American Coot 34, Laughing Gull 7, Rock Pigeon 30, Mourning Dove 4, Golden-fronted Woodpecker 2, Ladder-backed Woodpecker 1, Couch's Kingbird 1, Tree Swallow 20, Northern Mockingbird 2, Yellow-rumped Warbler 12, Savannah Sparrow 1, Boat-tailed Grackle 6. It was a beautiful sunny warm day, even though the morning had been cold, foggy and rainy.

February 17, 2007 Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge At 5:15pm I joined a van of nine as we patrolled the Laguna Atascosa backroads, looking for whatever appeared. A lot of what I hoped for never materialized (eg, nilgai,peccary, ocelot) but I did get amazing views of some pretty amazing animals. In one group of Wild Pigs were two tiny hairy piglets, just as cute as could be. Two alligators were more than I had hoped for. And although I had seen Pauraques before, never have I seen so many and so close. We viewed them sitting on the road in front of us. We viewed them kiting insects like a bat in the beam of the spotlight. We viewed their orange eyes glowing whenwe were still far away. Stilts were brilliant at night in the light of the spotlight, their pink legs shocking neon. Eleven whitetail deer were spotted. There were almost definitely a lot more we overlooked. The bird list:  Blue-winged Teal 2, Northern Shoveler 3, Northern Pintail 50, Lesser Scaup 50, Plain Chachalaca 12,Northern Bobwhite 10, Least Grebe 1, American White Pelican 317, Neotropic Cormorant 3, Great Blue Heron 3, Great Egret 3, Little Blue Heron 1, Reddish Egret 1, Black-crowned Night-Heron 1, Roseate Spoonbill 12, Turkey Vulture 13, Osprey 2, White-tailed Kite 1, Northern Harrier 2, Cooper's Hawk 1, Harris's Hawk 2, White-tailed Hawk 2, Crested Caracara 2, American Kestrel 5, American Coot 400, Sandhill Crane 257, Black-necked Stilt 5, American Avocet 1, Greater Yellowlegs 2, Lesser Yellowlegs 1, Long-billed Curlew 1, Forster's Tern 5, White-winged Dove 3, Mourning Dove 13, Common Pauraque 12, Eastern Phoebe 1, Loggerhead Shrike 1, Green Jay 12, Gray Catbird 1, Northern Mockingbird 9, Long-billed Thrasher 2, Orange-crowned Warbler 1, Yellow-rumped Warbler 8, Wilson's Warbler 1, Northern Cardinal 8, Red-winged Blackbird 100, Eastern Meadowlark 2, Western Meadowlark 2, Great-tailed Grackle 75, House Sparrow 8

February 20, 2007 Dixieland Park Lesser Scaup 18, Pied-billed Grebe 1, American White Pelican 9, Neotropic Cormorant 2, Double-crested Cormorant 26, Snowy Egret 2, Cattle Egret 3, Turkey Vulture 5, Northern Harrier 1, American Coot 26, Forster's Tern 2, Rock Pigeon 25, Mourning Dove 1, Common Ground-Dove 2, Belted Kingfisher 1, Golden-fronted Woodpecker 2, Couch's Kingbird 2, Tree Swallow 16, European Starling 11, American Pipit 2 and Lake Harlingen Park Black-bellied Whistling-Duck 320, Neotropic Cormorant 21, Double-crested Cormorant 50, Snowy Egret 5, Turkey Vulture 1, American Coot 18, Laughing Gull 25, Royal Tern 1, Forster's Tern 2

February 23, 2007 Sabal Palm Sanctuary  Better was earlier in the day, with a trip to Sabal Palm, but only on the Resaca Loop Trail-- I spent most of my time with the GrAY-CRoWNed YeLlOwtHRoat also there: Gadwall 50, American Wigeon 9, Blue-winged Teal 14, Northern Shoveler 3, Ring-necked Duck 1, Lesser Scaup 1, Ruddy Duck 3, Plain Chachalaca 10, Least Grebe 2, Pied-billed Grebe 6, Neotropic Cormorant 1, Double-crested Cormorant 1, Great Egret 1, Turkey Vulture 3, Harris's Hawk 1, Sora 1, American Coot 45, White-winged Dove 3, Mourning Dove 2, Ringed Kingfisher 1, Golden-fronted Woodpecker 6, Ladder-backed Woodpecker 1, Eastern Phoebe 2, Great Kiskadee 8, Couch's Kingbird 2, White-eyed Vireo 2, Blue-headed Vireo 2, Green Jay 3, Chihuahuan Raven 7, Black-crested Titmouse 3, Ruby-crowned Kinglet 2, Northern Mockingbird 3, Orange-crowned Warbler 1, Yellow-rumped Warbler 9, Common Yellowthroat 3, Gray-crowned Yellowthroat 1, Lark Sparrow 5, Northern Cardinal 1. I had great fun with two guys from South Carolina, a guy from Kentucky and another from Florida. A couple from Minnesota were fun to reminisce with...

2/24/2007 Laguna Atascosa NWR I had won a 1pm excursion with the ranger tracking the few ocelots left in the wild. After tracking in the 90-degree heat (what a wonderful sunny, breezy day!) he showed me machine-gun shells still left from 60 years ago, all over the beach, and ammunition bunkers still in use by the refuge. White cliffs (like those in Dover) closed to the public were also open to me today. It was fantastic. Dreamy. Am I really alive, or am I dreaming? When do I have to pay for all this goodness coming my way?

I got here early at 8am to take the Bayside Drive: Gadwall 50, American Wigeon 18, Blue-winged Teal 3, Northern Shoveler 8, Northern Pintail 220, Redhead 1320, Plain Chachalaca 8, American White Pelican 17, Great Blue Heron 21, Great Egret 1, Reddish Egret 2 (one a white morph!), Turkey Vulture 4, Osprey 18, Northern Harrier 4, White-tailed Hawk 1, Crested Caracara 4, Aplomado Falcon 1, Common Moorhen 2, American Coot 100, Long-billed Curlew 27, Dunlin 100, Short-billed Dowitcher 2, Laughing Gull 120, Ring-billed Gull 10, Mourning Dove 2, White-tipped Dove 4, Golden-fronted Woodpecker 4, Great Kiskadee 6, Loggerhead Shrike 1, Green Jay 12, Tree Swallow 1, Gray Catbird 1, Northern Mockingbird 22, Long-billed Thrasher 3, Yellow-rumped Warbler 4, Lincoln's Sparrow 1, Northern Cardinal 9, Red-winged Blackbird 100, Eastern Meadowlark 10, Western Meadowlark 10, Great-tailed Grackle 100, Brown-headed Cowbird 2, House Sparrow 4

2/26/2007 Tiocano Lake, Harlingen Gadwall 20, American Wigeon 4, Mottled Duck 2, Cinnamon Teal 2, Northern Shoveler 240, Green-winged Teal 3, Double-crested Cormorant 8, Great Blue Heron 4, Great Egret 3, Snowy Egret 1, Little Blue Heron 2, Cattle Egret 2, Roseate Spoonbill 8, Turkey Vulture 5, American Coot 57, Killdeer 2, Black-necked Stilt 14, American Avocet 1, Greater Yellowlegs 5, Lesser Yellowlegs 2, Willet 1, Long-billed Curlew 1, Dunlin 25, Long-billed Dowitcher 50, Ring-billed Gull 1, Caspian Tern 1, Common Ground-Dove 1, Great Kiskadee 2, Yellow-rumped Warbler 2.

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