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

June 2007
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Orange-Bellied Skimmer renamed Carmine Skimmer

June 1 Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park I had a great time birding with a famed local birder as well as a VIP with DOW   A GRAY HAWK zoomed in close overhead as we got to the top of the Hawk Tower, even circling and diving awhile, giving us great views of the whole bird. A Peccary allowed close approach with camera, Plain Chachalaca X, Black Vulture 2,Turkey Vulture 3, Osprey carrying something 1, Gray Hawk 1, Crested Caracara 1, Killdeer 1, White-winged Dove X ,Mourning Dove X, Common Ground-Dove X, White-tipped Dove X, Yellow-billed Cuckoo X, Groove-billed Ani 2, Lesser Nighthawk X, Buff-bellied Hummingbird 1, Golden-fronted Woodpecker X, Alder Flycatcher 1, Brown-crested Flycatcher (one very light colored) 2, Great Kiskadee X, Couch's Kingbird X, Scissor-tailed Flycatcher 2, Green Jay X, Bank Swallow X, Cave Swallow X, Clay-colored Robin 2, Northern Mockingbird X, Long-billed Thrasher X, Olive Sparrow 1, Lark Sparrow 3, Northern Cardinal 2, Dickcissel X, Great-tailed Grackle X, Bronzed Cowbird X, Brown-headed Cowbird 1, Altamira Oriole 2. One was kind of big on nests so we found as many as we could for him: Lark Sparrow, 3 Kiskadee, 2 Altamira Oriole, 1 Couch's Kingbird, 3 Lesser Nighthawk, and best of all a CLAY-COLORED ROBIN nest complete with nestlings! I hope some too-close Green Jays don't molest them.
June 3 Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park family of Javelina (7 adults, 5 juveniles), Coachwhip Snake (big but nonpoisonous), Gulf Coast Toad, , and Texas Tortoise (8" long, a Threatened species in Texas, on the US Endangered Species Act, it only lives in South Texas and Mexico). Plain Chachalaca 10, Northern Bobwhite 3, Turkey Vulture 3, Gray Hawk 1, Killdeer 4, Rock Pigeon 1, White-winged Dove 18, Mourning Dove 23, Common Ground-Dove 2, White-tipped Dove 17, Yellow-billed Cuckoo 12, Greater Roadrunner 2, Groove-billed Ani 1, Lesser Nighthawk 1, Buff-bellied Hummingbird 2, Green Kingfisher 1, Golden-fronted Woodpecker 11, Ladder-backed Woodpecker 6, Northern Beardless-Tyrannulet 1, Brown-crested Flycatcher 1, Great Kiskadee 4, Couch's Kingbird 5, Scissor-tailed Flycatcher 1, White-eyed Vireo 5, Green Jay 5, Cave Swallow 8, Verdin 2, Northern Mockingbird 21, Long-billed Thrasher 1, European Starling 1, Olive Sparrow 2, Lark Sparrow 1, Northern Cardinal 7, Dickcissel 8, Red-winged Blackbird 8, Great-tailed Grackle 18, Bronzed Cowbird 13, Brown-headed Cowbird 2, Altamira Oriole 2

Threatened Texas Tortoise on Rio Grande Trail

Sharing: Roadrunner and Green Jay at Bentsen-Rio

Javelina, from a group of 7 adults and 5 juveniles

June 4 Bentsen-Rio I just watched for 3 hours the first set of feeders opposite the gatehouse at the entrance: Altamira Oriole, BlackCrested Titmouse 4, Bronzed Cowbird 3, Cardinal 2, Chachalaca 4, Great Tailed Grackle 2, Green Jay 5, LongBilled Thrasher, Mockingbird, Mourning Dove, Olive Sparrow, Roadrunner, WhiteTipped Dove 3, WhiteWinged Dove 3.
June 5 Bentsen-Rio I just watched for an hour the first set of feeders opposite the gatehouse at the entrance: Fox Squirrel (not native here, but just like the ones back home in Ohio), White-winged Dove 3, Mourning Dove 1, Common Ground-Dove 3, White-tipped Dove 3, Yellow-billed Cuckoo 1, Greater Roadrunner 1, Golden-fronted Woodpecker 1, Ladder-backed Woodpecker 1, Brown-crested Flycatcher 1, Great Kiskadee 1, Couch's Kingbird 1, Green Jay 5, Northern Mockingbird 1, Long-billed Thrasher 2, Northern Cardinal 2, Great-tailed Grackle 3, Bronzed Cowbird 2

June 7  Pendleton Park: Black-bellied Whistling-Duck 3, Common Moorhen 2, Laughing Gull 37, Rock Pigeon 2, White-winged Dove 1, Mourning Dove 3, Golden-fronted Woodpecker 8, Ladder-backed Woodpecker 2, Black-crested Titmouse 1, Northern Mockingbird 3, European Starling 8, Great-tailed Grackle 20, Bronzed Cowbird 2, House Sparrow 20
June 8 Bentsen-Rio I saw my first RED-BORDERED PIXIE! I even got pictures of this gorgeous unreal butterfly, seen in the US only in extreme south Texas. Another first was the WHITE-STRIPED LONGTAIL. I didn't get any pictures of this one... It is seen only in South Texas, and extreme south Arizona/New Mexico.

It was also my first Dragonfly Walk. I've never been much interested in these bugs noted for their teeth (Odonata). I may have caught the fever today. Eastern Pondhawk was a familiar face, if not friend, from Ohio. The remarkable OrangeBellied Skimmer I couldn't help but notice here before the walk, a striking crimson. Four-Spotted Pennant, RedTailed Pennant, Caribbean Yellowface, Five-Striped Leaftail (pictured above), Blue Dasher, BlueWinged Dancer, Spottailed Dasher, Spottailed Amberwing, Double-Striped Damselfly, Neotropical Bluet, Double-Striped Bluet, Black Setwing, Rambert's Forktail, Roseate Skimmer were probably new though. Another Vine Sphinx flew in the daylight today, and walking into the dark pavilion we found a BLACK WITCH!!! This is a huge almost black moth almost SEVEN INCHES from wingtip to wingtip, this one an actual female.

June 9 Bentsen-Rio Nancy, who lives close to Bentsen-Rio allowed me to see a nest of Lesser Nighthawks at her home:





June 11 Bentsen-Rio  As soon as I got to the first set of feeders a BOBCAT in broad daylight was ambling toward me on the road!!!!  7:50am!  Just at the first set of feeders, opposite the guardhouse: Plain Chachalaca 3, White-winged Dove 5, Mourning Dove 1, Inca Dove 1, White-tipped Dove 3, Yellow-billed Cuckoo 2, Green Kingfisher 1, Golden-fronted Woodpecker 2, Ladder-backed Woodpecker 1, Brown-crested Flycatcher 3, Great Kiskadee 1, Green Jay 5, Black-crested Titmouse 2, Northern Mockingbird 1, Long-billed Thrasher 1, Olive Sparrow 2, Northern Cardinal 2, Bronzed Cowbird 3, Altamira Oriole 1. Also at the feeders were a Cottontail Rabbit and a Fox Squirrel. New for the day was a little white butterfly with a tan "Y" underneath: LAVIANA WHITE-SKIPPER!

June 12 Bentsen-Rio  Today at the first set of feeders by the gatehouse, for only an hour:Plain Chachalaca     3, White-winged Dove     2, Inca Dove     1, White-tipped Dove     2, Golden-fronted Woodpecker     2, Ladder-backed Woodpecker     1, Green Jay     3, Black-crested Titmouse     2, Longbilled Thrasher     1, Northern Cardinal     2, Great-tailed Grackle     3, Bronzed Cowbird     2,
June 16 Bentsen-Rio  Three hours walking just the north part of the park ie from Headquarters to the Green Jay Blind and back taking the north side of the Loop:  Plain Chachalaca     15, Black Vulture     2, Turkey Vulture     1, Killdeer     1, White-winged Dove     24, Mourning Dove     8, Inca Dove     1, Common Ground-Dove     1, White-tipped Dove     13, Yellow-billed Cuckoo     6, Lesser Nighthawk     6, Buff-bellied Hummingbird     1, Black-chinned Hummingbird     1, Golden-fronted Woodpecker     18, Ladder-backed Woodpecker     1, Brown-crested Flycatcher     4, Great Kiskadee     4, Couch's Kingbird     4, Green Jay     9, Cave Swallow     4, Black-crested Titmouse     4, Clay-colored Robin     4, Northern Mockingbird     30, Long-billed Thrasher     2, Olive Sparrow     5, Lark Sparrow     1, Northern Cardinal     5, Dickcissel     6, Red-winged Blackbird     7, Great-tailed Grackle     94, Bronzed Cowbird     21, Altamira Oriole     6.  Mammals were limited to 12 Javelina (5 were cute juveniles), and rabbits.   Also 3 RedBordered Pixies and a Giant (aka Marine, aka Cane) Toad, both species at the Kiskadee Blind.  I haven't seen the Roadrunners since the Bobcat strolled in their territory.  Thursday's night hike: no owls heard at all, Pauraques/Armadillos/Toads/Spiders/Bats were the highlights...





June 17, 2007 Bentsen-Rio Just from the Headquarters to and including the Resaca Vieja Trail:  Chachalaca 2, Green Heron     1, Turkey Vulture     1, Gray Hawk     4, Killdeer     2, White-winged Dove     8, Mourning Dove     5, Inca Dove     2, Common Ground-Dove     1, White-tipped Dove     11, Yellow-billed Cuckoo     7, Groove-billed Ani     1, Lesser Nighthawk     4, Green Kingfisher     1, Golden-fronted Woodpecker     3, Brown-crested Flycatcher     3, Great Kiskadee     4, Couch's Kingbird     10, Green Jay     7, Cave Swallow     26, Black-crested Titmouse     1, Verdin     1, Northern Mockingbird     5, Long-billed Thrasher     1, Northern Cardinal     9, Dickcissel     2, Great-tailed Grackle     20, Bronzed Cowbird     8, Altamira Oriole     6.    Three Gray Hawks were standing tall on their nest, looking like they were very close to fledging.  The parent Gray Hawk hid from Green Jays when in the trees, and from Couch's Kingbirds when airborne! Excuse the fuzzy photos-- I didn't have my camera with me.  These are stills taken from my videocamera:

Count the eyes-- 1, 2, 3 juv. Gray Hawks

Standing tall on the nest--Juv. Gray Hawks

Parent Gray Hawk hiding from Green Jays

June 18 Bentsen-Rio Just a few memories from the day: a huge Bullsnake, the singing of the Beardless-Tyrannulet, Anhinga, Caspian Tern...
June 19 South Padre Island Some of the birds I can remember we saw (I couldn't make a list because we were talking so much): Mottled Duck, Brown Pelican 12, Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, Snowy Egret, Little Blue Heron, Tricolored Heron, Turkey Vulture, Osprey, Harris's Hawk, Common Moorhen, Black-bellied Plover, Wilson's Plover, American Oystercatcher, Black-necked Stilt, Willet, Long-billed Curlew, Sanderling, Short-billed Dowitcher, Laughing Gull, Ring-billed Gull, Gull-billed Tern, Caspian Tern, Royal Tern, Sandwich Tern, Least Tern, Rock Pigeon, Mourning Dove, Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, Horned Lark, Cave Swallow, Northern Mockingbird, Mangrove Warbler 6, Seaside Sparrow, Red-winged Blackbird, Eastern Meadowlark, Great-tailed Grackle, Bronzed Cowbird, House Sparrow.

The Horned Lark here in Texas is not the same subspecies as that found back home in Ohio-- it is more yellow on the forehead, and also has yellow below the breastband, and is less russet on the back.

The Mangrove Warbler is only a subspecies of the Yellow Warbler, so common back home in Ohio at Oxbow Lake. It looks a lot different though-- having a chestnut head! The first one was seen in the US near Rockport TX (two hours north) in 1978. The second was seen in Boca Chica (near where we saw them today) in 1990. This May they found a nest, already empty, with juvenile Mangrove Warblers nearby. This nest we saw today is a new one, the first in the United States seen with an egg, and now the first in the US seen with a nestling! We were seeing Mommy and Daddy Warblers feeding their offspring, only eight feet away!  The only way I know to see these birds is by way of Scarlet and George Colley's boat, available at the SPI Nature Center at the foot of the causeway in Port Isabel.

The male Mangrove Warbler

The female Mangrove Warbler

Nestling Mangrove Warbler

June 21, 2007 Harlingen A Red-Bordered Pixie appeared in my own backyard today! 
June 22, 2007 Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park Early in the day 12 White Ibis, and 4 BlackBellied Whistling Ducks flew overhead, a JUVENILE CLAY-COLORED ROBIN was being fed by his parents, and a SPINY LIZARD in a tree were some highlights with Dr Brush and his students.  Then I practiced my butterflying before lunch (RedBordered Metalmark-- black on one side/red on the other,all 3 Emperors-- Tawny/Hackberry and that local specialty Empress Leilia), TWO COYOTE CLOUDYWINGS, Little Yellows, Pearl/Phaon/Texan Crescents, WhitePatched Skipper, Soldier, lots of Queens, Giant Swallowtails, Gray Hairstreaks and Dusky-Blue Groundstreaks and Lyside Sulphurs... ), went to the local NABA Butterfly Park (where I found with Javier, the director, Tom, a Virginian that moved here 6mo ago, and the guy that literally wrote the book on South Texas butterflies, Dr Glassberg, another RedBordered Metalmark, another Coyote Cloudywing, Common Sootywing, Vesta Crescent, Great Southern White, Large Orange Sulfur, TROPICAL LEAFWING, tons of Bordered and Crimson Patches, two Guava Skippers, Gulf and Variegated Fritillaries... He even pointed out a stack of Crimson Patch eggs!), and walked the Rio Grande Trail after lunch (Mottled Duck 2, Plain Chachalaca 10, Northern Bobwhite 1, Neotropic Cormorant 1, Anhinga 1, Great Egret 1, Green Heron 1, Turkey Vulture 1, Killdeer 1, Black-necked Stilt 2, White-winged Dove X, Mourning Dove X, Inca Dove X, Common Ground-Dove X, White-tipped Dove X, Yellow-billed Cuckoo 7, Groove-billed Ani 4, Lesser Nighthawk 2, Buff-bellied Hummingbird 2, Golden-fronted Woodpecker 6, Ladder-backed Woodpecker 3, Brown-crested Flycatcher 1, Great Kiskadee 2, Couch's Kingbird 1, White-eyed Vireo 1, Green Jay 4, Cave Swallow 11, Black-crested Titmouse 1, Verdin 1, Clay-colored Robin 4, Northern Mockingbird 12, Long-billed Thrasher 3, Curve-billed Thrasher 1, Olive Sparrow 1, Northern Cardinal 7, Dickcissel 2, Red-winged Blackbird 4, Great-tailed Grackle 4, Bronzed Cowbird X, Altamira Oriole 4 (TWO pairs of GrooveBilled Anis on the short jog to the Rio Grande River with nest! Pictures taken).

Texas Spiny Lizard

My first Tropical Leafwing.


This nest was below the GrooveBilled Anis.

June 24, 2007 NABA International Butterfly Park Since it's right next door to Bentsen, I go there instead of lunch: Ceraunus/CYNA BLUE; Common Buckeye, Elada Checkerspot, Coyote Cloudywing, Pearl/Phaon/Texan/Vesta Crescents, Hackberry/Tawny/Leilia Emperors, Gulf/Mexican Fritillaries, Dusky-Blue Groundstreak, Gray Hairstreak, TROPICAL LEAFWING, RED-BORDERED METALMARK. Bordered/Crimson Patch, White Peacock, Queen, RedBordered Pixie, /Cloudy/Guava/LavianaWhite/Turk’sCapWhite/White-Common Checkered/BROWN-BANDED Skippers at Bentsen (a first for me), American Snout, Soldier, Common Sootywing, Cloudless/Little/Lyside/Large Orange Sulphurs, Black/Giant Swallowtails, Great Southern White

The best of these had to be the CYNA BLUE! This tiny speck of butterfly is hard to see as it flutters along, IT...IS...SO...SMALL. It is also very rare. It does a HYPNOTIC DANCE when it finally does land. And it is so tiny it's hard to photograph-- WHICH I DID! My boss said he's never even seen one yet!

BrownBanded Skipper-- big for a skipper!

Cyna Blue, very tiny but the camera picked it up!

June 25, 2007 Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park White-winged Dove 8, Mourning Dove 1, Inca Dove 1, White-tipped Dove 3, Golden-fronted Woodpecker 2, Ladder-backed Woodpecker 2, Great Kiskadee 2, Green Jay 3, Long-billed Thrasher 1, Northern Cardinal 2, Great-tailed Grackle 8, Bronzed Cowbird 3, Altamira Oriole 4 (this is one parent with her three young'uns).  After work I headed to LaJoya, where Road 2221 turns right, I went straight, on Sparrow Alley.  I was after a CASSIN'S SPARROW, which I found after only an hour.  Overhead was a SWAINSON'S HAWK.  I've never seen Pyrrhuloxia (one pictured below) so thick!  Other birds seen included: Northern Bobwhite, Turkey Vulture, Killdeer, White-winged Dove, Mourning Dove, Inca Dove, Common Ground-Dove, Common Nighthawk, Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, Northern Mockingbird, Curve-billed Thrasher,Lark Sparrow, Red-winged Blackbird, Eastern Meadowlark, Great-tailed Grackle, Bronzed Cowbird, House Sparrow

Nope, it's not a Cardinal.

June 26, 2007 Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park Although I've seen Bobcats, today while on guardhouse duty I actually got pictures of one! Easy day: Plain Chachalaca 2, White-winged Dove 12, Mourning Dove 1, Inca Dove 1, White-tipped Dove 3, Yellow-billed Cuckoo 1, Greater Roadrunner 1, Golden-fronted Woodpecker 2, Ladder-backed Woodpecker 2Great Kiskadee 2, Green Jay 5, Northern Mockingbird 2, Long-billed Thrasher 1, Olive Sparrow 1, Northern Cardinal 2, Great-tailed Grackle 14, Bronzed Cowbird 4, Altamira Oriole 4 (mom with 3 juveniles)

My first photograph of a Bobcat.

June 28, 2007 My first stop was Harlingen's Hugh Ramsey Park, where there were MEXICAN BLUEWINGS (pictured below) on every trail, sometimes a pair of them at one spot.  I also startled two FLEDGLING GrooveBilled Anis and their parents. Other birds included: Black-bellied Whistling-Duck 1, Laughing Gull 3,White-winged Dove 81, Mourning Dove 7, Inca Dove 2, Common Ground-Dove 2, Red-crowned Parrot 2, Yellow-billed Cuckoo 2, Groove-billed Ani 5, Common Pauraque 1, Chimney Swift 1, Buff-bellied Hummingbird 3, Black-chinned Hummingbird 1, Ringed Kingfisher 1, Golden-fronted Woodpecker 9, Ladder-backed Woodpecker 4, Great Kiskadee 15, Couch's Kingbird 2, White-eyed Vireo 1, Purple Martin 14, Black-crested Titmouse 5, Cactus Wren 1, Carolina Wren 1, Bewick's Wren 4, Northern Mockingbird 10, Long-billed Thrasher 7, Curve-billed Thrasher 4, Olive Sparrow 10, Northern Cardinal 1, Great-tailed Grackle 20, Lesser Goldfinch 1, House Sparrow 30.

Next came Tiocano Lake, which I assumed would dry up at some time. It's still going strong with beautiful PINK ROSEATE SPOONBILLS, LUSCIOUS TAN FULVOUS WHISTLING DUCKS, A PATCHY BLUE-AND-WHITE BABY LITTLE BLUE HERON, FOUR DOZEN STILTS-- it was really kewl. The list: Black-bellied Whistling-Duck 2, Fulvous Whistling-Duck 12, Blue-winged Teal 2, Neotropic Cormorant 12, Great Egret 3, Snowy Egret 13, Little Blue Heron 2, Cattle Egret 8, Green Heron 1, Roseate Spoonbill 5, American Coot 1, Killdeer 3, Black-necked Stilt 48, Laughing Gull 9, Gull-billed Tern 3, Royal Tern 1, Forster's Tern 1, Rock Pigeon 14, Common Nighthawk 1, Great-tailed Grackle 6, Bronzed Cowbird 1

The last place highlight was Thirteen-Lined Ground Squirrels. So neat! Dixieland Park: Black-bellied Whistling-Duck 4, Neotropic Cormorant 2, Great Egret 2, Snowy Egret 22, Green Heron 1, Black-crowned Night-Heron 2, Yellow-crowned Night-Heron 2, Osprey 1, Killdeer 2, Laughing Gull 9, Forster's Tern 1, Mourning Dove 8, Common Ground-Dove 2, Yellow-billed Cuckoo 2, Golden-fronted Woodpecker 3, Great Kiskadee 5, Western Kingbird 2, Scissor-tailed Flycatcher 1, Purple Martin 2, Northern Mockingbird 8, Curve-billed Thrasher 1, European Starling 6, Red-winged Blackbird 1, Great-tailed Grackle 10, Bronzed Cowbird 2, House Sparrow

I couldn't stop taking pictures of these beauties.

Dainty Sulphurs that look like Barred Yellows?

June 29, 2007 Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park and International Butterfly Park

ORNYTHIAN SWALLOWTAIL (got a photo!) was totally new for me, although it looks a lot like Ohio's Giant Swallowtail. TWO-BARRED FLASHER (got a photo!) was also totally new-- looks a lot like the Guava Skipper. GREAT PURPLE HAIRSTREAK and MALLOW SCRUB-HAIRSTREAK were totally new too but they were too fast for a picure. Variegated Fritillary and Pipevine Swallowtail were there too, new for Texas, although I've seen them in Ohio. On my Already-Seen-List were: Blue (Ceraunus, Cyna, Reakirt's), Checkerspot (Elada), Crescents (Thaon, Pearl , Texan, Vesta), Dusky-Blue Groundstreak, Fritillary (Gulf, Mexican), Giant Swallowtail, Gray Hairstreak, Leafwing (Tropical), Patch (Bordered, Crimson), Queen, Skipper (Broken-Dash, Cloudy, Guava), Soldier, Sulphurs (Large Orange , Little, Lyside), Tawny Emperor, White Checkered-Skipper. Also notable was a BROWN ANOLE and a HARLEQUIN FRUIT BEETLE (my first was at Valley Nature Center).


June 30, 2007 Bentsen-Rio and Int'l Butterfly Park  So many new beautiful butterflies! After looking at some LongBilled Thrashers and a ClayColored Robin, Jim pointed out a COMMON MESTRA as it floated by. Lunch at NABA brought Zebra Heliconian, one I've seen many times in the Bahamas, in Florida, even in Texas at Sabal Palm, but not for awhile. I met Gil there who casually noted a SOUTHERN DOGFACE (prettier than it sounds), the first one I've seen in a long time, and told me where I could find a DINGY PURPLEWING (what a name! but it describes the butterfly perfectly--see photo below).

Common(???) Mestra -- I'd call it Beauteous Mestra

Dingy Purplewing


To see my history of birding before I moved to Texas just click one of these links: at Oxbow Lake, in Defiance County.
at Independence Dam State Park, in Defiance County.
in Sherwood Ohio, my old hometown, in Defiance County
the rest of Defiance County.
in Paulding County, one county south of Defiance County, in Northwest Ohio
at 16 and C in Williams County, in Northwest Ohio.
the rest of Williams County
in Fulton County, also in Northwest Ohio
around Lake Erie
as well as other various spots in Ohio
and occassionally other states.
I've also researched my genealogy a bit (my other hobby). Click here to learn about the Yochums.
and the Hinsch's
and the Stahls.
and the Jones'
and the Rathbuns.
and the Mattsons
and the Browns
and the Weisers
and the Batdorffs.
Genealogy Tree, Generations 1 through 6
Genealogy Tree, Generations 7 through 12
Genealogy Tree, Generations 13 and up