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

November 2008
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Nov 1 Work today was a wonderful time as a bird guide at Anzalduas County Park, all beautiful day! Roy Rodriguez, Jose Uribe, Tom Pendleton, Mike Rickard, Ginny, and I set out on a hike first, where our first great sighting was a FEMALE HOUSE FINCH! Amazing. Then we saw a MALE HOUSE FINCH! More amazing and more beautiful-- a House Finch in South Texas? And then omigosh Roy spotted a beautiful male HOOK-BILLED KITE soaring overhead! And then a wonderful adult ZONE-TAILED HAWK! It was a gorgeous day, and I must've had eighty people on my tours. The bird list was good: Mottled Duck 2, American White Pelican 5, Double-crested Cormorant, Great Egret 3, Little Blue Heron 1, White-faced Ibis 10, Turkey Vulture, Osprey 1, Hook-billed Kite 1, White-tailed Kite 2, Cooper's Hawk 1, Harris's Hawk 1, Gray Hawk 1, Zone-tailed Hawk 1, American Kestrel 1, American Coot, Killdeer, Spotted Sandpiper 1, Rock Pigeon, White-winged Dove, Mourning Dove, Inca Dove, Common Ground-Dove, Ringed Kingfisher 1, Golden-fronted Woodpecker, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker 1, Ladder-backed Woodpecker, Northern Beardless-Tyrannulet 1, Black Phoebe, Eastern Phoebe 1, Vermilion Flycatcher 1, Great Kiskadee, Couch's Kingbird, Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, White-eyed Vireo, Blue-headed Vireo 1, Green Jay, Northern Rough-winged Swallow 1, Barn Swallow, Black-crested Titmouse, House Wren, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Northern Mockingbird, Curve-billed Thrasher, Orange-crowned Warbler, Nashville Warbler, Black-and-white Warbler 1, Red-winged Blackbird, Western Meadowlark, Great-tailed Grackle, Bronzed Cowbird, House Finch 2, House Sparrows.

Butterflies were good too with quite a few Malachites, Mexican Bluewings, White and Banded Peacocks, as well as usuals like Cloudless Sulphurs, Little Yellows, Queens, Brown Longtails, Clouded and LongTailed Skippers, Tropical Leafwings, Tawny Emperors and Empress Leilias, and three Red Rims. Sickle-winged Skippers were probably the most common seen! I only saw a single WhiteStriped Longtail. Dragonflies were easily overlooked but included Green Darners, Eastern Pondhawks, Wandering Gliders and a Russet-Tipped.

Best of the day? My very first SHeEP fROG! It was found by a boy of about 14 digging in the dirt. In the United States they are found only in South Texas. This was a fantastic find.

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Nov 3  The morning started with light! That's a good thing about the time change. At work, I arrived too early and so started off at the Shary Road Denny's pond: Ruddy Duck 6, Green Heron 2, American Kestrel 1, American Coot 3, Killdeer 2, Spotted Sandpiper 1, Rock Pigeon 2, Mourning Dove 6, Golden-fronted Woodpecker 2, Vermilion Flycatcher 3, Great Kiskadee 3, Couch's Kingbird 3, Scissor-tailed Flycatcher 2, Loggerhead Shrike 1, Barn Swallow 40, House Wren 3, Northern Mockingbird 11, Curve-Billed Thrasher 1, European Starling 1, Savannah Sparrow 8, Northern Cardinal 3, Western Meadowlark 1, Great-tailed Grackle 4, House Sparrow 23.

Then right off the bat at Bentsen we had a YELLOW-TIPPED FLASHER-- only the second one I have ever seen. And twice as big!

The morning Bird Walk wtih Jerry, Josh and I and 9 others: Javelina 9, Gadwall, Mallard (Mexican), Mottled Duck, Blue-winged Teal, Redhead 1, Ring-necked Duck, Lesser Scaup, Plain Chachalaca 49, Least Grebe 6, Pied-billed Grebe 7, Double-crested Cormorant 6, Anhinga 2, Great Egret 3, Green Heron 2, Turkey Vulture 100 in one spiraling flock, Osprey 1, Sharp-shinned Hawk 1, Gray Hawk 1, Crested Caracara 2, American Kestrel 1, Sora 2, Common Moorhen, American Coot 45, Killdeer, Mourning Dove 3, Inca Dove 2, Common Ground-Dove 6, Greater Roadrunner 1, Buff-bellied Hummingbird 2, Ruby-throated Hummingbird 4, Black-chinned Hummingbird 1, Rufous Hummingbird 1, Ringed Kingfisher 1, Belted Kingfisher 2, Golden-fronted Woodpecker X, Ladder-backed Woodpecker 1, Eastern Phoebe 2, Great Kiskadee 10, Couch's Kingbird 8, Scissor-tailed Flycatcher 7, White-eyed Vireo 1, Green Jay 24, House Wren 9, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher 8, Northern Mockingbird 8, Long-billed Thrasher 1, Orange-crowned Warbler 5, Olive Sparrow 1, Savannah Sparrow 5, Lincoln's Sparrow 1, Northern Cardinal 1, Western Meadowlark 1, Great-Tailed Grackle 4, Altamira Oriole 2, American Goldfinch 5, House Sparrow 10.

 Jennifer Hall found a Palmetto Weevil and showed it to Mike Rickard, the Sniders, Josh and I-- my very first one was in April and this was only my second. This is the largest North American weevil, a beautiful red and black one, that attacks palm trees. Fossils indicate that they've been around for a MILLION YEARS! Seriously! Josh saw his first one April 24. They've been seen only two places in Texas besides Josh's earlier record: Sea World in San Antonio, and Galveston! Their grubs are culinary delights all over the world, but especially Papua New Guinea <ugh>!

As Josh and I were filling hummingbird feeders at the end of the day we discovered ANOTHER YellowTipped Flasher! My second and third ever.

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Nov 5 Bentsen The highlight was a Smudgy (Altamira x Audubon’s) Oriole at the northern intersection of Acacia Loop and Kiskadee Trail. The very yellow bird frolicked in its short nest, took a bath in front of God and 23 people, then flew onto a low branch to preen and dry off, with a perfect blue sky serving as a backdrop.

The heard-well-but-not-seen category was impressive as well: Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl at the Wall Feeder near Kingfisher Overlook, Olive Sparrows, and Northern Beardless-Tyrannulet (near the Smudgy Oriole). In contrast, Mr Reliable the Eastern Screech-Owl was easily viewed but silent.

Sometimes it takes looking through the eyes of others to fully appreciate the Bentsen birds. One visitor at one point told me she was up to TEN LIFERS, mostly area specialties: many Green Jays, many Chachalacas, many Kiskadees, a few Couch’s Kingbirds, Ringed Kingfisher, a Gray Hawk, a few WhiteTipped Doves, Golden-Fronted Woodpeckers, Altamira Oriole, Least Grebes…

Back at the Headquarter Gardens I heard reports of all five Hummingbird species, including the Allen’s Hummingbird banded by Mary Gustafson last year. Back with a vengeance are BlueGray Gnatcatchers, House Wrens and Orange-Crowned Warblers, but only a few Indigo Buntings, most heard only.

Great hopes for unusual visitors at the Hawktower Marsh were lowered, with only Sora and some six or so ducks. Gadwall, Mallard (Mexican), Mottled Duck, Blue-winged Teal, Ring-necked Duck, Lesser Scaup, Plain Chachalaca, Least Grebe, Pied-billed Grebe, Double-crested Cormorant, Anhinga, Great Egret, Turkey Vulture, Osprey 1, Northern Harrier 1, Sharp-shinned Hawk 1, Cooper's Hawk 1, Gray Hawk 1, Sora 2, Common Moorhen, American Coot, White-winged Dove, Mourning Dove, Inca Dove, Common Ground-Dove, White-tipped Dove, Eastern Screech-Owl 1, Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl 1, Lesser Nighthawk, Common Pauraque 8, Buff-bellied Hummingbird, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Black-chinned Hummingbird,Rufous Hummingbird ,Allen's Hummingbird 1, Ringed Kingfisher, Belted Kingfisher 1, Golden-fronted Woodpecker, Ladder-backed Woodpecker, Northern Beardless-Tyrannulet, Eastern Phoebe, Great Kiskadee, Couch's Kingbird, Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, Green Jay, House Wren, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Northern Mockingbird, Long-billed Thrasher, Orange-crowned Warbler, Olive Sparrow, Northern Cardinal, Indigo Bunting, Great-tailed Grackle, Altamira Oriole, Altamira x Audubon's Oriole (hybrid) 1, Lesser Goldfinch, House Sparrow.

 After lunch was the weekly Butterfly Walk: Pipevine/Giant Swallowtails, Great Southern White, Cloudless/LargeOrange/Lyside Sulphurs, Little/Mimosa Yellows, DuskyBlue Groundstreak, Lantana Scrub-Hairstreak, American Snout, Gulf/VARIEGATED Fritillary, Zebra/Julia Heliconians, Bordered/CRIMSON Patch, VESTA/Phaon Crescent, AMERICAN LADY, White/Banded Peacocks, Malachite, Mexican Bluewing, Tropical Leafwing, Hackberry/Tawny/SILVER Emperors, Empress Leilia, Carolina Satyr, Queen, Soldier, Dorantes/Brown Longtails, YELLOW-TIPPED FLASHER, Sickle Winged /Brown Banded / White Patched /White Checkered /Desert Checkered /Laviana White /Clouded /Fiery Skippers, Common Mellana, Whirlabout, BRAZILIAN SKIPPER

Nov 6 Bentsen  Javelinas were plentiful all day-- 16 Javelina were waiting on me at the feed door. Gadwall, Mallard (Mexican), Mottled Duck, Blue-winged Teal, Northern Shoveler, Ring-necked Duck, Plain Chachalaca, Least Grebe, Pied-billed Grebe, Double-crested Cormorant, Anhinga, Great Blue Heron 2, Great Egret 1, White Ibis 5, White-faced Ibis 8, Turkey Vulture, Osprey 1, White-tailed Kite 1, Northern Harrier 1, Sharp-shinned Hawk 1, Cooper's Hawk 1, Gray Hawk 1, Crested Caracara 1, American Kestrel, Sora, Common Moorhen, American Coot, Killdeer, White-winged Dove, Mourning Dove, Inca Dove, Common Ground-Dove, White-tipped Dove, Greater Roadrunner 1, Eastern Screech-Owl 1, Common Pauraque 2, Buff-bellied Hummingbird, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Black-chinned Hummingbird, Rufous Hummingbird, Allen's Hummingbird 1, Ringed Kingfisher, Belted Kingfisher, Green Kingfisher, Golden-fronted Woodpecker, Ladder-backed Woodpecker, Northern Beardless-Tyrannulet, Eastern Phoebe , Great Kiskadee, Couch's Kingbird, White-eyed Vireo, Green Jay, Cave Swallow, Barn Swallow, House Wren, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Northern Mockingbird, Long-billed Thrasher, Orange-crowned Warbler X, Northern Parula 1, Black-throated Green Warbler 1, Black-and-white Warbler 1, Common Yellowthroat, Olive Sparrow, Cardinal, Indigo Bunting, Red-winged Blackbird, Great-tailed Grackle, Altamira Oriole, Lesser Goldfinch, House Sparrow.
 
While Gil Quintanilla was photographing one Yellow-Tipped Flasher, John Rosford was photographing another only a few feet away! Rick Snider found a Two-Barred Flasher (seen!) and a goatweed leafwing that I couldn't re-find. While Art was showing me a Black Widow spider, a Tailed Orange alighted near us.

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Nov 7 Harlingen's Dixieland Park The first bird I saw as I set foot outside the car was a beautiful immature male Vermilion Flycatcher: While walking three dogs, in the recreational area only. Black-bellied Whistling-Duck 130, Mottled Duck 4, Ring-necked Duck 15, Lesser Scaup 200,Pied-billed Grebe 3, Neotropic Cormorant 1, Double-crested Cormorant 2, Snowy Egret 1, Cattle Egret 80, Osprey 1, Cooper's Hawk 1, Harris's Hawk 1, American Coot 8, Rock Pigeon 12, White-winged Dove 6, Mourning Dove 8, Ringed Kingfisher 2, Belted Kingfisher 3, Golden-Fronted Woodpecker 1, Vermilion Flycatcher 1, European Starling 14, Great-tailed Grackle 265, Bronzed Cowbird 10.   All this while walking three dogs, in the mowed recreational area only.

Then I rushed to Estero Llano State Park for the 8:30am walk to see the new lifebird reported last night: ROSE-ThROaTEd BECARD!!!! We only had a fleeting glimpse, and it was a female. Better seen, but only an escape and therefore not countable under American Birding Association rules, was a huge BLACK-ThROaTEd MAGPIE-JAY!!!! There was a group from the Birding Festival there, as well as singles from everywhere: American White Pelican 7, Turkey Vulture 3, White-tailed Kite 2, Cooper's Hawk 1, Stilt Sandpiper 8, Mourning Dove 6, Inca Dove 12, White-tipped Dove 3, Common Pauraque 1, Buff-bellied Hummingbird 1, Ruby-throated Hummingbird 1, Golden-fronted Woodpecker 10, Eastern Phoebe 1, Great Kiskadee 8, Couch's Kingbird 9, Scissor-tailed Flycatcher 2, White-eyed Vireo 2, Carolina Wren 1, House Wren 3, Clay-colored Thrush 1, Northern Mockingbird 14, Curve-billed Thrasher 1, Indigo Bunting 2, Great-tailed Grackle X, Bronzed Cowbird 6, Brown-headed Cowbird 2, American Goldfinch 2, House Sparrow 20.This was in the front area only, usually forbidden to the public.

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Nov 8 The day started at Bentsen State Park searching for yesterday's black-headed grosbeak: Plain Chachalaca, Pied-billed Grebe, Double-crested Cormorant, Anhinga, Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, Black Vulture 3, Turkey Vulture 1, White-tailed Kite 1, Red-shouldered Hawk 1, Gray Hawk 2, Red-tailed Hawk 1, Crested Caracara 1, American Kestrel 1, Sora 1, Common Moorhen, American Coot, Killdeer, White-winged Dove, Mourning Dove, Inca Dove, Common Ground-Dove, White-tipped Dove, Eastern Screech-Owl 1, Buff-bellied, Ruby-throated, Black-chinned, Rufous, Allen's Hummingbird, Belted Kingfisher, Golden-fronted Woodpecker, Ladder-backed Woodpecker, Northern Beardless-Tyrannulet, Eastern Phoebe, Great Kiskadee, Couch's Kingbird, Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, White-eyed Vireo, Blue-headed Vireo, Green Jay, Black-crested Titmouse, House Wren, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Northern Mockingbird, Long-billed Thrasher, Orange-crowned Warbler, Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle), Yellow-rumped Warbler (Audubon's) (first of season), Common Yellowthroat, Olive Sparrow, Northern Cardinal, Indigo Bunting, Red-winged Blackbird, Great-tailed Grackle, Altamira Oriole, House Sparrow, just from the HQ to Green Jay Blind with Rick & May, and a lady from Mississippi.

Later in the afternoon, Rick called Jose and I and a lady from Ontario and the lady from Missississippi out to the Fiddlewood at the bus stop: he and Barry-from-Cleveland had found a TROPICAL GREENSTREAK!!!! We had seen Mexican Bluewings, Malachites, and Banded Peacocks all day. Here on this one bush were Clytie Ministreaks, Dusky-Blue Groundstreaks, Mallow Scrub-Hairstreaks, a female Great Purple Hairstreak, and this beautiful rare bug only rarely seen in the United States.

Nov 10 Bentsen my very first RUTHVEN'S WHIPSNAKE by the new garden at the nature center now under construction. Otherwise it was the more usual: Blue Spiny Lizard 6, Diamondback Watersnake, Javelina 25, Gadwall, Mottled Duck, Blue-winged Teal, Northern Shoveler, Ring-necked Duck,Plain Chachalaca, Least & Pied-billed Grebe, Double-crested Cormorant, Anhinga 2, Great Blue Heron 1, Green Heron 1, Black Vulture 3, Turkey Vulture 10, Osprey 1, Sharp-shinned Hawk 1, Cooper's Hawk 1, Red-shouldered Hawk 1, Crested Caracara 1, Sora 2, Common Moorhen, American Coot, Mourning Dove 2, Inca Dove 3, Common Ground-Dove 10, White-tipped Dove 1, Buff-bellied, Ruby-throated, Rufous, Allen's Hummingbirds, Ringed,Belted, Green Kingfisher, Golden-fronted 3, Ladder-backed Woodpecker 2, Northern Beardless-Tyrannulet 1, Eastern Phoebe 2, Great Kiskadee 10, Couch's Kingbird 3, White-eyed Vireo 1, Green Jay 25, Black-crested Titmouse 3, House Wren 5, Ruby-crowned Kinglet 1, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher 3, Northern Mockingbird, Long-billed Thrasher 2, Orange-crowned Warbler 4, Northern Cardinal 5, Indigo Bunting 7, Red-winged Blackbird 50, Great-tailed Grackle.

The last hour I wandered through the garden where we found a pair of Julia's (a male and a female), Mexican Fritillary and MARIUS HAIRSTREAK on the "Hairstreak Bush" aka Fiddlewood. Tom Kihn and his two lovely companions found the Allen's Hummingbird by the Meeting Room restrooms making a great comparison with the nearby Rufous Hummingbird, also adult. Four cameras clicking away and I left mine at home... Would've come in handy today!

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FourSpotted Sailor
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Marius Hairstreak

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Yojoa Scrub-Hairstreak

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Nov 12 Estero Llano State Park The scheduled Bird Walk found us at Basham's house, awaiting the appearance of the ROSE-THROATED BECARD. I had three great views, one while he ate a big insect! BlackThroated MagpieJay, Black-bellied Whistling-Duck 144, Blue-winged Teal 20, Northern Shoveler 6, Green-winged Teal 1, Ring-necked Duck 1, Plain Chachalaca 4, Least Grebe 4, Pied-billed Grebe 11, American White Pelican 8, Neotropic Cormorant 1, Double-crested Cormorant 1, Great Egret 1, Snowy Egret 1, Little Blue Heron 4, Turkey Vulture 15, Cooper's Hawk 1,Sora 2, Common Moorhen 2, American Coot 104, Killdeer 2, Black-necked Stilt 45, Spotted Sandpiper 2, Solitary Sandpiper 1, Greater Yellowlegs 1, Lesser Yellowlegs 6, Stilt Sandpiper 12, Long-billed Dowitcher 8, White-winged Dove 1, Inca Dove 28, Common Ground-Dove 2, White-tipped Dove 2, Common Pauraque 1, Buff-bellied Hummingbird 1, Ruby-throated/Black-chinned Hummingbird 1, Belted Kingfisher 2, Green Kingfisher 2, Golden-fronted Woodpecker 9, Eastern Phoebe 2, Vermilion Flycatcher 2, Great Kiskadee 22, Couch's Kingbird 9, Rose-throated Becard 1, White-eyed Vireo 2, Green Jay 2, Black-crested Titmouse 1, House Wren 2, Ruby-crowned Kinglet 1, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher 15, Northern Mockingbird 8, Curve-billed Thrasher 1, European Starling 10, Orange-crowned Warblers, Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle) 1, Black-throated Green Warbler 1, Common Yellowthroat 2, Great-tailed Grackle 12, House Sparrow 25.

Enroute to Bentsen, Jennifer called us all the way from Oregon: the RoseThroated Becard had hit a window and was now in a shoe box awaiting Mary Gustafson driving all the way from Bentsen. As we pulled in Mary was leaving. Turns out, she got to band the bird and then release it, evidently no worse for wear.

At the Bentsen Butterfly Walk, a call came about a FOUR-SPOTTED SAILOR (maybe the fourth or fifth time in the United States) had us all rush to the bus stop. It just never stopped from there: MARIUS HAIRSTREAK, CURVE-WINGED METALMARK, POTRILLO SKIPPER, ORANGE-BARRED SULPHUR... more and more butterflies and butterfliers until finally John Rosford found a YOJOA SCRUB-HAIRSTREAK

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Nov 13 Seen from the Estero Llano State Park deck in the pouring rain: Black-bellied Whistling-Duck 231, Fulvous Whistling-Duck 1, Blue-winged Teal 28,Cinnamon Teal 1, Northern Shoveler 24, Green-winged Teal 1, Plain Chachalaca 4, Least Grebe 7, Pied-billed Grebe 8, American White Pelican 9, Double-crested Cormorant 1, Great Blue Heron 2, Great Egret 2, Little Blue Heron 2, Tricolored Heron 3, White-faced Ibis 1, Cooper's Hawk 1, Sora 1, Common Moorhen 2, American Coot, Killdeer 26, Black-necked Stilt 35, American Avocet 52, Spotted Sandpiper 2, Solitary Sandpiper 1, Greater Yellowlegs 1,Lesser Yellowlegs 6, Long-billed Dowitcher 188, Wilson's Snipe 1, White-winged Dove 1, Mourning Dove 1, Inca Dove 20, Common Ground-Dove 1, White-tipped Dove 2, Buff-bellied Hummingbird 2, Ringed Kingfisher 1, Belted Kingfisher 1, Vermilion Flycatcher 2, Great Kiskadee 7, House Wren, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Northern Mockingbird, European Starling, Orange-crowned Warbler, Great-tailed Grackle, House Sparrow.

The rain miraculously stopped so that I could help out at Valley Nature Center, a few blocks away there in Weslaco. They had expected 45 second-graders. This is a small building sitting on six acres of birding trails. ONE-HUNDRED-TWENTY second-graders showed up! I don't know how we did it, but all went smoothly! With this many kids, it's a wonder anything was visible but we did get WhiteWinged and WhiteTipped Doves, Kiskadees and Chachalacas, BuffBellied Hummingbirds, and at least six Zebra Heliconians ventured under the still-dripping trees.

For lunch (I just can't stay away) I drove to Bentsen State Park and back, to get the rare butterflies they had found-- they were still there waiting for me! WHITE-TAILED LONGTAIL and FALCATE SKIPPER.

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Four Orange Sulphurs! Last one was San Antonio...

Nov 16 Estero  Bird walks all morning to see the Becard, but Magpie-Jay not seen. Fox Squirrels, Cottontail Rabbit and my first Hispid Cotton Rat for the park. BandCelled Sister, 2BarredFlasher, Portillos. Black-bellied Whistling-Duck X,Snow Goose 8, Blue-winged Teal X, Cinnamon Teal 1, Northern Shoveler X, Green-winged Teal X, Plain Chachalaca X, Least Grebe X, Pied-billed Grebe X, American White Pelican 20, Little Blue Heron 1,Turkey Vulture 3, Sharp-shinned Hawk 1, Cooper's Hawk 1, Sora 3, Common Moorhen X, American Coot X, Killdeer X, Spotted Sandpiper 2 (one seen above in the photo), Least Sandpiper X, Long-billed Dowitcher, Rock Pigeon 7, White-winged Dove X, Mourning Dove X, Inca Dove 23, White-tipped Dove 3, Buff-bellied Hummingbird 2, Belted Kingfisher 2, Golden-fronted Woodpecker 12, Vermilion Flycatcher 2, Great Kiskadee 10, Couch's Kingbird 3, Rose-throated Becard 1, White-eyed Vireo 3, Blue-headed Vireo 1, Green Jay 4, Tree Swallow X, Cave Swallow 3, Black-crested Titmouse 3, House Wren 3, Ruby-crowned Kinglet 4, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher 8, American Robin 4, Northern Mockingbird 10, Curve-billed Thrasher 2, European Starling 12, Orange-crowned Warbler 6, Black-throated Green Warbler 1, Great-tailed Grackle 4, House Sparrow 50. All day just couples and singles.

For lunch (3:15-3:45) I went to Frontera. It was only a half-hour near dark-- but I saw more than I expected including 10 Zebras, Banded & White Peacocks, RedAdmirals, Queens, LongTailed Skippers, Brown Longtails, Carolina Satyrs, Soldiers,FierySkippers, Mestra, Lantana ScrubHairstreaks, Monarch, plus Plain Chachalaca, Green Heron 1, Mourning Dove, Inca Dove, White-tipped Dove, Golden-fronted Woodpecker, Great Kiskadee, Couch's Kingbird, Blue-headed Vireo, Green Jay, Northern Mockingbird, Orange-crowned Warbler, Pine Warbler 1.

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Nov 17 EsteroThe beautiful Black-Throated Magpie-Jay was seen very nicely again today, although the Becard was only glimpsed.  Only park areas included are the deck, Lakeview Dr area, and walks directly to Alligator Pond and back. BlackThroated MagpieJay, Cottontail, Fox Squirrel, Hispid Cotton Rat, BandCelled Sister, Malachites, Mex Blue Wings, TwoBarred Flashers, Black-bellied Whistling-Duck 300, Blue-winged Teal 50, Cinnamon Teal 1, Northern Shoveler 20, Lesser Scaup 1, Plain Chachalaca 1, Least Grebe 7, Pied-billed Grebe 7, American White Pelican 16, Anhinga 5, Great Blue Heron 1, Great Egret 1, Little Blue Heron 1, Tricolored Heron 2, Turkey Vulture 4Sharp-shinned Hawk 1, Harris's Hawk 1, Peregrine Falcon 1, Sora 1, Common Moorhen 8, American Coot 100,Killdeer 2, Spotted Sandpiper 2, Solitary Sandpiper 2, Lesser Yellowlegs 3, Least Sandpiper 7, Stilt Sandpiper 2, Long-billed Dowitcher 20, Caspian Tern 1,Mourning Dove 8, Inca Dove 38, Common Ground-Dove 8, White-tipped Dove 3, Common Pauraque 3, Buff-bellied Hummingbird 2, Ruby-throated/Black-chinned Hummingbird 2, Belted Kingfisher 2, Green Kingfisher 2, Golden-fronted Woodpecker 12, Eastern Phoebe 2, Vermilion Flycatcher 3, Great Kiskadee 9, Couch's Kingbird 2, Rose-throated Becard 1, White-eyed Vireo 4, Blue-headed Vireo 2, Green Jay 2, Tree Swallow 10, Cave Swallow 4, Black-crested Titmouse 2, Carolina Wren 4, House Wren 6, Ruby-crowned Kinglet 5, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher 6, American Robin 12, Northern Mockingbird 20, Long-billed Thrasher 1, Curve-billed Thrasher 4, European Starling 2, Orange-crowned Warbler X, Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle) 2, Black-and-white Warbler 1, Common Yellowthroat 3, Olive Sparrow 1, Lincoln's Sparrow 2, Indigo Bunting X, Great-tailed Grackle 6, House Sparrow 67.

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Nov 18 Today, my fifth day at Estero, is off to an excellent start with the Black-Throated Magpie-Jay being our constant companion beginning at 8am, flying low, posing in the trees and on fences all around us as we looked for the Rose-Throated Becard. While we waited we were entertained and distracted also by the appearances of a Pyrrhuloxia, a Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker, and an Osprey, along with other more expected species. Paul Cypher and I heard a Parula zip up the scale three times very close-by, but we failed to find him to ascertain whether he was Northern or Tropical. About 11:20am Danny Hoehne (on his fifth visit) found the Becard and called us over, where we had excellent if brief looks before the Becard flew over our heads, seeming to be in excellent health in spite of his recent accident.

Another group, and another Pyrrhuloxia and a Wilson's Warbler were beside the restroom, while up on the levy were many LongBilled Curlews, a GreenWinged Teal, Avocets, more of our Sandpipers and Stilts, many Great Blue Herons, a Snowy Egret... They loved the Alligators and the Pauraque too.

As soon as that was done another group was here to see the Becard. It was already 3:30pm and I didn't know exactly how the birds were in late afternoon, but we tried it. A huge Indigo Snake was at the entrance. Excellent! And the Magpie-Jay was awaiting us-- huge, brilliant and out in the open. The ladies were delighted. Paul Cypher was back looking for the Tropical Parula, since it appears the pair reported from Quinta Mazatlan hadn't been seen for a week. He did see the Black-Throated Gray Warbler! Soon the Becard appeared! In brilliant sunlight! Wonderful view! At the tip top of tall young trees! Not the greatest picture but the best and the first one I've had so far. They followed us to the golden raintree and left us as we headed back to the park.

Nov 19 Estero As Huck and I unlocked the front gate, he jokingly called, "Wood Ducks!" We both lifted our binoculars and saw... Wood Ducks! A pair! They lifted immediately and headed out to the southeast. Paul Cypher had left a note that at 7:10am he had found the Tropical Parula!

 The scheduled Bird Walk left the deck at 8:45, and by 9:15 we were looking at the Rose-Throated Becard directly overhead. We called out all of its fieldmarks: "Look at the dark head! Look at the rusty back! Look at the grey belly! Look at the pink throat! Look at the..." And I forgot to take pictures. While we were getting great looks at a Marsh Wren practically at our feet, we heard the sound of Sandhill Cranes. We looked overhead and all around at a seemingly clear blue sky, and then more closely directly overhead, and then with binoculars to see two V's of them, all grey except for one bright white one with black wingtips... Suddenly we had four soaring raptors in beautiful perfect view even without binoculars: WhiteTailed Kite, Caracara, RedShouldered Hawk, Turkey Vulture.

Not including Camino de Aves or Green Jay Trail: Black-bellied Whistling-Duck 26, Wood Duck 2, Blue-winged Teal 30, Cinnamon Teal 1, Northern Shoveler 40, Green-winged Teal 1, Least Grebe 8, Pied-billed Grebe 10, American White Pelican 252, Double-crested Cormorant 3, Anhinga 2, Great Blue Heron 11 ,Great Egret 1, Snowy Egret 1, Little Blue Heron 1, Tricolored Heron 3, Cattle Egret 10, White-faced Ibis 1, Turkey Vulture 1, White-tailed Kite 1, Harris's Hawk 1, Red-shouldered Hawk 1, Crested Caracara 1, Sora 2,Common Moorhen 4, American Coot 72, Sandhill Crane 40, Killdeer 1, Black-necked Stilt 42, American Avocet 9, Spotted Sandpiper 2, Solitary Sandpiper 2, Lesser Yellowlegs 8, Long-billed Curlew 45, Least Sandpiper 15, Stilt Sandpiper 32, Long-billed Dowitcher 60, White-winged Dove 4, Mourning Dove 1, Inca Dove 21, Common Ground-Dove 7, Common Pauraque 1, Buff-bellied Hummingbird 3, Ringed Kingfisher 1, Belted Kingfisher 1, Green Kingfisher 1, Golden-fronted Woodpecker 8, Ladder-backed Woodpecker 1, Eastern Phoebe 1, Vermilion Flycatcher 2, Great Kiskadee 15, Couch's Kingbird 2, Rose-throated Becard 1, White-eyed Vireo 1, Blue-headed Vireo 1, Green Jay 2, House Wren 4, Marsh Wren 2, Ruby-crowned Kinglet 6, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher 8, Northern Mockingbird 28, Long-billed Thrasher 1, Curve-billed Thrasher 1, European Starling 3, Orange-crowned Warbler 16, Savannah Sparrow 6, Red-winged Blackbird 7, Great-tailed Grackle 7, House Sparrow 28, BlackThroated Magpie Jay 1, WHOOPING CRANE 1.

Nov 22 Estero I was at work an hour early to prepare for Breakfast with the Birds. It was my first and very fun when almost 30 people showed up for cereal, oatmeal, muffins, apple juice, doughnuts, and a lot of other breakfast food. We found many birds from the deck, then we split into two groups with Huck leading one group and me leading the other. It was great fun and totally enjoyable: Black-Throated Magpie was seen, but not the Becard...Black-bellied Whistling-Duck, Fulvous Whistling-Duck 2, Gadwall, Blue-winged Teal, Cinnamon Teal 1, Northern Shoveler, Green-winged Teal, Plain Chachalaca 5, Least Grebe, Pied-billed Grebe 1, American White Pelican, Anhinga, Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, Snowy Egret, Little Blue Heron, Turkey Vulture, Osprey 1, White-tailed Kite, Northern Harrier, Sharp-shinned Hawk, Cooper's Hawk, Harris's Hawk 3, Red-shouldered Hawk 1, American Kestrel, Peregrine Falcon 1, Sora, Common Moorhen, American Coot, Black-necked Stilt, American Avocet, Spotted Sandpiper 2, Solitary Sandpiper 2, Greater Yellowlegs 1, Lesser Yellowlegs, Least Sandpiper, Stilt Sandpiper, Long-billed Dowitcher, Rock Pigeon 1, Mourning Dove, Inca Dove, Common Ground-Dove, White-tipped Dove, Common Pauraque, Buff-bellied Hummingbird, Ruby-throated/Black-chinned Hummingbird 1, Ringed Kingfisher, Belted Kingfisher, Green Kingfisher, Golden-fronted Woodpecker, Ladder-backed Woodpecker, Eastern Phoebe, Vermilion Flycatcher, Great Kiskadee, Couch's Kingbird, Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, White-eyed Vireo, Blue-headed Vireo, Green Jay, Tree Swallow, Cave Swallow, Barn Swallow, Black-crested Titmouse, Carolina Wren, House Wren, Marsh Wren, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, American Robin 2, Northern Mockingbird, Curve-billed Thrasher, European Starling, Orange-crowned Warbler, Nashville Warbler 1, Tropical Parula 1, Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle) 6, Black-and-white Warbler 2, Common Yellowthroat, Lark Sparrow, Savannah Sparrow, Lincoln's Sparrow, Northern Cardinal, Red-winged Blackbird, Great-tailed Grackle, House Sparrow

Nov 25 Estero Birds were good: I had the best views of our Tropical Parula yet. The Magpie-Jay persists as does the Cinnamon Teal. The Becard was not seen again today. A WhiteWinged Dove showed up for the first time in awhile.

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Nov 23 Estero I thoroughly enjoyed myself-- again. Huck and I were taking turns giving tours again. Benton joined us on a butterfly search-- Guava Skippers, Giant Whites, TwoBarred Flashers, Potrillo Skippers, a Variegated Meadowhawk, Malachites, Mexican Bluewings, BandCelled Sisters-- pretty normal stuff for here. These Common Green Darners lives back home and here in Texas, found today in the wheel.

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Nov 26 Estero Today was the scheduled Bird Walk at Estero. We split into two groups of eight, between Huck and I. My group: Black-bellied Whistling-Duck 400, Fulvous Whistling-Duck (flagged by e-bird) 27, Blue-winged Teal 30, Cinnamon Teal 1, Northern Shoveler 20, Green-winged Teal 10, Plain Chachalaca 4, Least Grebe 6, Pied-billed Grebe 6, American White Pelican 200, Anhinga 3, American Bittern (hard to see, hard to find!) 1, Great Blue Heron 4, Great Egret 4, Snowy Egret 20, Little Blue Heron 1, Tricolored Heron 3, White-faced Ibis 1, Roseate Spoonbill 4, Turkey Vulture 40, White-tailed Kite 1, Cooper's Hawk 1, Harris's Hawk 1, Red-shouldered Hawk 1, White-tailed Hawk 1, Sora 5, Common Moorhen 10, American Coot 100, Black-necked Stilt 60,American Avocet 20, Spotted Sandpiper 2, Solitary Sandpiper 2, Greater Yellowlegs 1, Lesser Yellowlegs 10, Least Sandpiper 150, Stilt Sandpiper 50, Long-billed Dowitcher 100, Caspian Tern 1, Mourning Dove 2, Inca Dove 4, Common Ground-Dove 6, Common Pauraque 1, Ringed Kingfisher 1, Belted Kingfisher 1, Green Kingfisher 1, Golden-fronted Woodpecker, Ladder-backed Woodpecker 1,Eastern Phoebe 3, Vermilion Flycatcher 3, Great Kiskadee 6, Couch's Kingbird 2, White-eyed Vireo 1, Tree Swallow, Cave Swallow 3, House Wren, Marsh Wren, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Northern Mockingbird 1, European Starling, Orange-crowned Warbler, Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle), Black-and-white Warbler 1, Common Yellowthroat 6, Chipping Sparrow 1, Lark Sparrow, Savannah Sparrow, Lincoln's Sparrow, Red-winged Blackbird, Great-tailed Grackle, House Sparrow. What a great day today. Nice weather and nice people. Paul Monk found the Bittern. Bordelon and Knudson were in the park (Pyle and Basham were in the office yesterday) today, leaving a great list of their findings this month.

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Nov 28 Estero I got to work early so counted forty species of birds from the deck (7:15-8am): Black-bellied, Whistling-Duck 200, Fulvous Whistling-Duck 1, Blue-winged Teal 26,Cinnamon Teal 1, Northern Shoveler 20, Least Grebe 3, Pied-billed Grebe 5, American White Pelican 13, Double-crested Cormorant 1, Great Blue Heron 2, Great Egret 5, Little Blue Heron 1, Tricolored Heron 1, Roseate Spoonbill 5, Cooper's Hawk 1, Sora 2, Common Moorhen 3, American Coot 1, Black-necked Stilt 42, Spotted Sandpiper 2, Greater Yellowlegs 1, Lesser Yellowlegs 10, Least Sandpiper 25, Stilt Sandpiper 10, Long-billed Dowitcher 120, Inca Dove 5, Buff-bellied Hummingbird 1, Belted Kingfisher 1, Green Kingfisher 1, Eastern Phoebe 2, Vermilion Flycatcher 2, Great Kiskadee 11, White-eyed Vireo 1, Tree Swallow 12, European Starling 2, Orange-crowned Warbler 3. Red-winged Blackbird 1. Great-tailed Grackle 8. Bronzed Cowbird 14. House Sparrow 10.

The first Estero Butterfly Walk was today, and included five people, most all newbies. It was fun, but we moved slowly:  Pipevine Swallowtail, Great Southern White, Southern Dogface, Cloudless, Large Orange and Lyside Sulphurs, Mimosa Yellow, Mallow Scrub-Hairstreaks, Fatal Metalmark, American Snout, Julia, Zebra, Pale-Banded Crescent, Painted Lady, White and Banded Peacocks,
BandCelled Sister, Mexican Bluewing, Malachite, Common Mestra, Tawny Emperor, Carolina Satyr, Monarch, Queen, Soldier, WhiteStriped Longtail, LongTailed Skipper, Dorantes and Brown Longtail, TwoBarred Flasher, Potrillo Skipper, Common/White and Tropical Checkered-Skippers, Laviana White-Skipper, Fawn-Spotted, Fiery and Clouded Skippers, Whirlabout, Sachem...

Good birds included two flocks of GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GEESE totalling 110, plus 40 White-Faced Ibis.  Nice also was a DeKay's Snake in front of Grebe Marsh on the walkway, frozen there, perhaps because he was so frightened of us walking by.

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Nov 29 Estero Huck and I took people back to see the Magpie-Jay, but we also saw the Eastern Screech-Owl in a natural setting this time, being harrassed by a Golden-Fronted Woodpecker that wanted its hole back. We also saw a Yellow-Throated Warbler, the Tropical Parula, a Black-and-White Warbler, Blue Headed Vireo and such amidst the much more common Orange-Crowned Warblers, Black-Crested Titmice, and Blue-Gray Gnatcatchers.

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Nov 30 Estero Llano Grande State Park Terry Fuller stopped by to identify a dragonfly by the door (Bar-Sided Darner) and tell us he saw a Mexican Silverspot in the parking lot. I looked for it but couldn't find it. This was the second time someone saw one here and I missed it (Charles Bordelon the first time). A good thing is that while I was looking Benton Basham got a call from Father Tom Pinicelli reporting Creamy Whites (aka Common Melwhites) with a West Coast Lady from Hidalgo Pumphouse. Without hesitation I took my lunch immediately (2pm) to drive there in time to pick them up (THREE Common Melwhites at least, a Florida White, and the West Coast Lady), and drive back, all in an hour! It took 25 minutes to get there! Back at Estero, a professorial couple and I looked for the silverspot some more. Instead we found a SilverBanded Hairstreak, Lantana and Mallow Scrub-Hairstreaks...but not the Silverspot.  Instead, we found a LACEY'S SCRUB-HAIRSTREAK, too!

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