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

July 2007
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It's our seventh month here in Harlingen.

July 1, 2007 Bentsen-RioGrandeValley Park, Mission TX Black-bellied Whistling-Duck 2, Plain Chachalaca 10, Northern Bobwhite 2, Great Egret 1, Turkey Vulture 1, Gray Hawk 1, White-winged Dove 26, Mourning Dove 6, Inca Dove 1, Common Ground-Dove 3, White-tipped Dove 3, Yellow-billed Cuckoo 2, Greater Roadrunner 1, Groove-billed Ani 1, Lesser Nighthawk 3, Buff-bellied Hummingbird 2, Black-chinned Hummingbird  1, Golden-fronted Woodpecker 12, Ladder-backed Woodpecker 1, Northern Beardless-Tyrannulet 1, Great Kiskadee 3, Couch's Kingbird 3, Green Jay 10, Purple Martin 2, Northern Rough-winged Swallow 8, Cave Swallow 26, Black-crested Titmouse 2, Clay-colored Robin 1, Northern Mockingbird 9, Long-billed Thrasher 2, Olive Sparrow 2, Northern Cardinal 10, Dickcissel 3, Red-winged Blackbird 2, Great-tailed Grackle 15, Bronzed Cowbird 10, Altamira Oriole 1.  After the walk a Lark Sparrow and a ScissorTailed Flycatcher showed up.  Two out-of-state birders found two Ferruginous Pygmy-Owls, which they said were silent.  Int'l Butterfly Park was uneventful, but I did find at Bentsen two Bordered Patches colored much lighter than is my experience so far:

Bordered Patch at Bentsen
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July 2 Bentsen I scoured Bentsen and NABA for new butterflies, but nothing new did I find. Two female Tropical Leafwings were at the International Butterfly Park, though. One was old and ragged, and one was fresh. The old one was so old she let me photograph her top side, which is unusual! That's why she gets today's photo. A Leafwing's underside is dull brownish/grey, like oatmeal or porridge. The top is bright orange. Which would you choose?

I watched the gatehouse for an hour at noon.  The feeders were empty, so I quickly filled them. In less than an hour I had: Plain Chachalaca 1, Turkey Vulture 1 (just flying low overhead, inspecting), White-winged Dove 3, Mourning Dove 1, White-tipped Dove 1, Yellow-billed Cuckoo 1 (just passing through checking on the ruckus), Golden-fronted Woodpecker 1 (a juvenile!), Ladder-backed Woodpecker 2 (a pair), Great Kiskadee 1 (stuffing his bill with as much suet as it could hold and then flying away.  Feeding young?), Green Jay 5, Northern Mockingbird 2 (an adult and a juvenile), Long-billed Thrasher 2, Olive Sparrow 1, Northern Cardinal 2 (a pair), Great-tailed Grackle 4, Bronzed Cowbird 3 (a guy, a girl and a juvenile). I had to wonder when I saw the young Cowbird, who raised this guy? Cowbirds lay their eggs in other birds' nests. Well, this guy begged from a Green Jay. Could this be his Mom? I don't think so. The Green Jay looked at him like he was crazy. Then she crouched down as if she were brooding eggs, then jumped up, then crouched, then stared in awe at the begging Cowbird. He never did get anything from her.

Old and ragged but easy to photograph!
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Not gaudy but still uniquely attractive.
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July 3

First stop, Tiocano Lake. Officially, it's the Lower Texas Coast Trail Birding Spot 017. Fifteen minutes, low numbers but wonderful variety. And just outside Harlingen, so no time wasted driving: Black-bellied Whistling-Duck 8, Fulvous Whistling-Duck 14, Mottled Duck 6, Great Egret 5, Snowy Egret 12, Little Blue Heron 2, Roseate Spoonbill 7, American Coot 1, Killdeer 6, Black-necked Stilt 25, American Avocet 1, Laughing Gull 1, Gull-billed Tern 3, Royal Tern 1, Forster's Tern 2, Black Skimmer 2, Rock Pigeon 28, White-winged Dove 2, Mourning Dove 1, Northern Mockingbird 1, Curve-billed Thrasher 1, Red-winged Blackbird 5, Great-tailed Grackle 11, Bronzed Cowbird 3, Brown-headed Cowbird 1. Well, that was fun and it still wasn't raining, although the sky was still black and it was lightning in the distance, so I decided to try another 15-minute birding spot.

Second stop, La Feria Sod Farm. Not a lot, but what do you expect for a 15-minute stop? Lots of Black-Necked Stilts, GreatTailed Grackles, and RedWinged Blackbirds. I heard more Eastern Meadowlarks and Dickcissels than I actually saw. Lark Sparrows dived into the sorghum, avoiding my glances. A Great Egret against the blue-steel sky was soul-refreshing. Two adult Little Blue Herons, 3 BlackBellied Whistling-Ducks rounded out the count, except for a Loggerhead Shrike, as I turned onto Rangerville Road. Still no rain.

Third stop, Harlingen City Lake. This was a stationary count-- I didn't want to get caught on the other side of the lake in the rain. Black-bellied Whistling-Duck 10, Snowy Egret 7, Black-Crowned Night-Heron 1, Killdeer 1, Laughing Gull 30, Red-crowned Parrot 5, Couch's Kingbird 2, Scissor-tailed Flycatcher 2, Purple Martin 4, Northern Mockingbird 1, Great-tailed Grackle 6, House Sparrow 6. Mere sprinkles.

Fourth stop, Harlingen's Dixieland Park. I had the opportunity to watch the resident Osprey catch and eat a fish on the top of a telephone pole here. It's so dark from eminent rain that the Pauraques are already calling! Black-bellied Whistling-Duck 5, Mottled Duck 2, Neotropic Cormorant 5, Great Egret 2, Snowy Egret 26, Cattle Egret 3, Green Heron 1, Black-crowned Night-Heron 3, Yellow-crowned Night-Heron 2, Osprey 1, American Coot 1, Killdeer 4, Laughing Gull 7, Rock Pigeon 3, White-winged Dove 10, Mourning Dove 15, Common Ground-Dove 2, Common Nighthawk 1, Common Pauraque 2, Ringed Kingfisher 1, Golden-fronted Woodpecker 3, Ladder-backed Woodpecker 1, Great Kiskadee 6, Couch's Kingbird 4, Scissor-tailed Flycatcher 10, Purple Martin 6, Northern Mockingbird 6, Curve-billed Thrasher 1, European Starling 2, Red-winged Blackbird 2, Great-tailed Grackle 20, Bronzed Cowbird 6, Lesser Goldfinch 2, House Sparrow 10. By now I'm thinking it isn't going to rain at all, in spite of the dark skies and occasional lightning and sprinkles.

Fifth stop, Harlingen's Pendleton Park. Black-bellied Whistling-Duck 4, Common Moorhen 2, Laughing Gull 15, Rock Pigeon 26, White-winged Dove 11, Mourning Dove 4, Red-crowned Parrot 54 (my beloved and I arrived at the same number independently, Chimney Swift 2, Golden-fronted Woodpecker 5, Ladder-backed Woodpecker 1, Great Kiskadee 2, Couch's Kingbird 2, Western Kingbird 4, Purple Martin 2, Northern Mockingbird 8, European Starling 70, Great-tailed Grackle 23, Bronzed Cowbird 4, House Sparrow 20.  Plus of course a melange of Mallard mixes, Crested Ducks, Peking Ducks, domestic Muscovies and Chinese Geese.

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RedCrowned Parrot at Pendleton Park, Harlingen TX
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July 4 Harlingen's Hugh Ramsey Park Just a couple hours:   Black-bellied Whistling-Duck     1, Plain Chachalaca     4, Rock Pigeon     2, White-winged Dove     37, Mourning Dove     7, Inca Dove     1, Common Ground-Dove     2, White-tipped Dove     2, Groove-billed Ani     4, Chimney Swift     3, Buff-bellied Hummingbird     6, Green Kingfisher     1, Golden-fronted Woodpecker     13, Ladder-backed Woodpecker     5, Great Kiskadee     12, Couch's Kingbird     2, White-eyed Vireo     6, Purple Martin     1, Black-crested Titmouse     3, Verdin     1, Bewick's Wren     6, Northern Mockingbird     17, Long-billed Thrasher     2, Curve-billed Thrasher     6, Olive Sparrow     1, Pyrrhuloxia     1, Great-tailed Grackle     10, Bronzed Cowbird     1, Brown-headed Cowbird     1, Altamira Oriole     1, Lesser Goldfinch     4, House Sparrow     40.  The park was filled with MEXICAN BLUEWINGS on every trail as always, even right at the entrance, plus the Dainty Sulphurs were still laughing like so many tiny munchkins from Oz at my attempts to turn them into rare Barred Yellows.  This is a great place to make new friends, too, and there is never enough time to fully appreciate the many labelled native plants so wonderfully maintained by the Master Gardners and Arroyo Colorado Audubon.  Just a fantastic place.
Coyote Cloudywings and Gulf Fritillarys and Gulf caterpillars were the story of my Harlingen backyard.  Is it red white and blue enough?  or is it a bit too orange-y?

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July 5, 2007 Bentsen-RioGrandeValley Park, Mission TX We started the walk here at 8pm and had a Bobcat, over a dozen Javelina, a fly-by Black Witch (a black moth with a 7" wingspan), Gulf Coast and NarrowMouthed Toads. It has rained so much we expected more toads! Best of all was hearing and seeing ELF OWLS! WOW! Neotropic Cormorant 1, White-winged Dove 6, Mourning Dove 3, Inca Dove 2, Common Ground-Dove 2, White-tipped Dove 1, Yellow-billed Cuckoo 1, Groove-billed Ani 1, Eastern Screech-Owl 4, Great Horned Owl 1, Elf Owl 5, Lesser Nighthawk 10, Common Nighthawk 10, Common Pauraque 10, Chimney Swift 2, Buff-bellied Hummingbird 3, Black-chinned Hummingbird 3, Golden-fronted Woodpecker 3, Ash-throated Flycatcher 1, Great Kiskadee 2, Couch's Kingbird 2, Cave Swallow 30, Northern Mockingbird 6, Long-billed Thrasher 1, Lark Sparrow 2, Northern Cardinal 2, Red-winged Blackbird 6, Great-tailed Grackle 20, Bronzed Cowbird 2.

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July 6, 2006 Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park. I walked only the southern circle of the park comprised of MesquiteRd, NopalRd and Roadrunner Crossing. Well, they don't call it Roadrunner Crossing for nothing-- I saw a pair of Roadrunners on Roadrunner Crossing itself, plus a single at the restrooms at La Coma. Plain Chachalaca 5, White Ibis 25 flyovers as we don't have waterbirds very often, Turkey Vulture 1, Swainson's Hawk 1 always good bird around here, not too common, way up high overhead, White-winged Dove 10, Mourning Dove 2, White-tipped Dove 3, Yellow-billed Cuckoo 3, Greater Roadrunner 2, Groove-billed Ani 1 at Headquarters gardens, Golden-fronted Woodpecker 7, Ladder-backed Woodpecker 2, Brown-crested Flycatcher 4, Couch's Kingbird 4, Green Jay 4, Olive Sparrow 2, Bronzed Cowbird 2.

July 8, 2006 Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park. I Today's van-ride Bird "Walk" results: A single Javelina, a Black Witch at Kiskadee Blind, a big Cane Toad running fast down the path, Plain Chachalaca 8, Turkey Vulture 1, White-tailed Kite 1, White-winged Dove 18, Mourning Dove 2, Inca Dove 2, Common Ground-Dove 2, White-tipped Dove 5, Yellow-billed Cuckoo 1, Greater Roadrunner 1, Groove-billed Ani 1, Lesser Nighthawk 2, Common Pauraque 1, Buff-bellied Hummingbird 2, Black-chinned Hummingbird 2, Golden-fronted Woodpecker 10, Ladder-backed Woodpecker 1, Northern Beardless-Tyrannulet 1, Brown-crested Flycatcher 1, Great Kiskadee 2, Couch's Kingbird 4, Green Jay 18, Cave Swallow 20, Black-crested Titmouse 3, Clay-colored Robin 2, Northern Mockingbird 16, Long-billed Thrasher 1, Olive Sparrow 4, Lark Sparrow 3,Northern Cardinal 8, Dickcissel 2, Red-winged Blackbird 3, Great-tailed Grackle 32, Bronzed Cowbird 12, Altamira Oriole.  At lunch, I went to NABA and found a Western Pygmy-Blue (my first. well, i guess they're pretty common, so it's the first i actually stopped to identify) the official tiniest butterfly. Also there was a big Buckeye-- was it like the ones in Ohio or a Tropical Buckeye?

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July 9, 2006 Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park.  Mary was banding WhiteWinged Doves, a Blue Spiny Lizard posed for pictures, and Mary found us a Silver Emperor, a female, my first!  My second, also a female, was next door at NABA.

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July 10, 2007  For lunch I walked around with Tom Pendleton at NABA International Butterfly Park and found a Tropical Leafwing and a RUBY-SPOTTED SWALLOWTAIL. I had full-frame opportunities for perfect photos but she would fly just as I was about to push the shutter. So I decided to go for a wider shot so at least I had some documentation of her, my very first one!

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July 12, 2006 Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park We had eleven people-- me, Sis,Tim, Jalen, Bruce, a couple from Oregon, a couple from New Mexico and a father-son from Weslaco. Jalen spotted a Tarantula right away for the group, Bruce found the family of Elf Owls, and Sis found an Armadillo. They saw a Bobcat but I missed it. Paraques, Lesser/Common Nighthawks, three Black Witches, a Giant Toad and a Mediterranean Gecko, a Nysa Skipper, a Bronzed Cowbird laying an egg in an Altamira Oriole nest and lots of other birds made the trip a very happy fun time. The Walking Sticks got a much warmer reception than the "normal" birds:  Killdeer, BuffBellied and BlackChinned Hummingbirds, Kiskadee, Mockingbirds, Cave Swallows, Cardinals, Couch’s and Western Kingbirds, RedWinged Blackbirds, WhiteWinged, Inca, Mourning Dove, Bronzed Cowbird, Great Tailed Grackles, Altamira Oriole.
 
July 13, 2006 Rangerville Road at Military Highway Tim, Sis, Jalen, Bruce and I saw an even dozen WOOD STORKS fly overhead, south into Mexico.  I got a very fuzzy photo as a memento.
 
July 14, 2006 Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park My very first butterfly count ever.  These results blatantly stolen from the NABA.org website.  Temperature 78-99 degrees. Wind 10-15 miles SE. 8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.. Mostly sunny. Field Notes: Areas in and around the count circle had 5-6 inches of rain within the prior two weeks. Vegetation lush and green. Visited World Birding Center/Bentsen, Bentsen Lake garden and pavilion area, Bentsen Palm Village RV, Mission West RV, NABA Inernational Butterfly Park, Lucy’s Garden, Mission Parks and Recreation Garden, Booker’s Bend, La Lomita Park, Anzalduas County Park, Dauphin Yard in Mission, Booker Yard in Madero.  Participants: Gil Quintanilla (coordinator) , Jan & Dave Dauphin, Wayne Bartholomew, Jim Booker, John Yochum, Javier de Leon, William T. Pendleton, Mary Ritch, Ray Little, Taffy Hedridge Pipevine Swallowtail (1), Black Swallowtail (3),Giant Swallowtail (15), Ornythion Swallowtail (1), Ruby-spotted Swallowtail (1-- only the second I've ever seen),  Great Southern White (5), Large Orange Sulphur (9), Lyside Sulphur (28), Little Yellow (18), Dainty Sulphur (7), Great Purple Hairstreak (1), Dusky-blue Groundstreak (2), Gray Hairstreak (17), Mallow Scrub-Hairstreak (9), Lantana Scrub-Hairstreak (2-- LIFERS), Clytie Ministreak (1--LIFER), Cyna Blue (4), Western Pygmy Blue (4), Ceraunus Blue (16), Reakirt's Blue (1), Fatal Metalmark (6), Red-bordered Metalmark (1), Red-bordered Pixie (2), American Snout (750) (estimated 10,000 streaming across river at Anzalduas), Gulf Fritillary (13), Julia Heliconian (1), Zebra Heliconian (3), Mexican Fritillary (1), Theona Checkerspot (1), Bordered Patch (17), Crimson Patch (1), Elada Checkerspot (9), Texan Crescent (3), Vesta Crescent (1), Phaon Crescent (45), Pearl Crescent (6), Question Mark (1), Red Admiral (1), Common Buckeye (1), White Peacock (2), Malachite (1), Mexican Bluewing (3), Dingy Purplewing (2), Common Mestra (1), Tropical Leafwing (5), Hackberry Emperor (2), Empress Leilia (3), Tawny Emperor ( 95), Gemmed Satyr (5), Carolina Satyr (35), Monarch (1), Queen (75), Soldier (15), Guava Skipper (1), White-striped Longtail (1), Zilpa Longtail (1-- LIFER), Long-tailed Skipper (1) ,  Dorantes Longtail (1-- LIFER), Brown Longtail (35), Two-barred Flasher (1),  Mazan's Scallopwing (1), Texas Powdered Skipper (1), Sickel-winged Skipper (4), Brown-banded Skipper (2), Com/White Checkered-Skipper ( 7), Tropical Checkered-Skipper (6), Laviana White-Skipper (7), Turk's-cap White-Skipper (2), Common Sootywing (2), Fawn-spotted Skipper (2), Clouded Skipper (47), Southern Skipperling (4-- LIFER, what beauties!), Fiery Skipper (37), Sachem (3), Whirlabout (8), Southern Broken-Dash (1), Common Mellana (1-- LIFER), Celia’s Roadside (12), Eufala Skipper (13-- LIFER)

Zilpa Longtail, cooperative at Bentsen-Rio St Park
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This tiny beauty is the Southern Skipperling.
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Lantana Scrub-Hairstreak at NABA. Another first.
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Yep, another new one for me: Eufala Skipper
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Same lifer Eufala, side view:
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July 15, 2006 Santa Anna National Wildlife Refuge Day two of my very first butterfly count ever.  This information blatantly stolen from the NABA.ORG website.  Temperature 76-99 degrees. Wind 15-20 miles SE. 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.. Light rain and mostly cloudy in morning. Mostly sunny in afternoon.  Field Notes::  Conditions wet with vegetation lush and green. Hundreds of Giant Swallowtails on the wing.   Blooming eupatorium azureum and Limoncillo at Santa Ana NWR main headquarters garden.. Gardens at old manager’s residence and cemetery rich with native blooms such as heart leafed hibiscus.   Crimson Patches were the main attraction and abundant at Frontera Audubon.. Weslaco area also enjoying much green vegetation from recent heavy rains. Met city planner, Irene Zedelmeyer, and her daughter at the Weslaco Duranta hedge and she invited us to her fabulous home garden where we picked up the usually common, but strangely elusive Gray Hairstreak and Cloudless Sulphur. Visited Santa Ana NWR,  Estero Llano Grande Birding Center, Frontera Audubon, Weslaco Duranta Hedge, Zedelmeyer home garden. Participants: Gil Quintanilla (coordinator) , Jan & Dave Dauphin, Jim Booker,  John Yochum, Javier de Leon, Crystal Salinas, William T. Pendleton,
Taffy Hedridge, Cynthia Traylor:
 
Giant Swallowtail (250), Great Southern White (5), Giant White (1), Cloudless Sulphur (2), Large Orange Sulphur (15),  Lyside Sulphur (65), Little Yellow (40), Gray Hairstreak (2), Mallow Scrub-Hairstreak (7), Dusky-blue Groundstreak (9), Clytie Ministreak (2), Western Pygmy-Blue (1), Ceraunus Blue (10), Reakirt's Blue (1), Fatal Metalmark (2), Rounded Metalmark (7), Red-bordered Metalmark (1), Red-bordered Pixie (1), American Snout (175), Gulf Fritillary (20), Julia Heliconian (6), Zebra Heliconian (12), Bordered Patch 18), Crimson Patch (95) Abundant at Frontera Audubon ,Elada Checkerspot (8), Texan Crescent (35), Pale-banded Crescent (2) I've probably seen this one before, but it's hard for me to identify.  With all the experts agreeing to its identity, it finally counts as a LIFER for me , Vesta Crescent (4), Phaon Crescent (75), Pearl Cerscent ((9), Common Buckeye (1), White Peacock (7), Dingy Purplewing (3), Common Mestra (20), Mexican Bluewing (1), Tropical Leafwing (3), Tawny Emperor (6), Carolina Satyr (6), Queen (25), Soldier (3), White-striped Longtaill (4), Brown Longtail (85), Mimosa Skipper (2), Mazan's Scallopwing (1) LIFER at Frontera in Weslaco, Texas Powdered Skipper (5) many, all Lifers, at Santa Anna NWR, Sickle-winged Skipper (55), Brown-banded Skipper (3), Mournful Duskywing (7) many all Lifers on a row of Duranta in Weslaco, Common/White Checkered-Skipper (26), Tropical Checkered-Skipper (12), Laviana White-Skipper (9), Turk's-cap White-Skipper (4), Common Sootywing (1), Julia's Skipper (8), Fawn-spotted Skipper 5, Clouded Skipper (120), Southern Skipperling (18), Fiery Skipper (17), Sachem (1), Whiralabout (15), Southern Broken-Dash (2), Nysa Roadside Skipper (2), Celia’s Roadside (18) , Eufala Skipper (2)

OK no lifer but so beautiful, so many at Frontera
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No lifer, but so beautiful! WhiteSided Longtail.
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Not so pretty, but lifer Mazon's Scallopwing.
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Pale-Banded Crescent.
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Mournful Duskywing
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Texas Powdered Skipper-- incredible.
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July 16, 2007 Bentsen-RioGatehouse watching the first set of feeders only: Chachalacas, 8 WhiteWinged Doves, 3 WhiteTipped Doves, a single Mourning Dove, a pair of LadderBacked Woodpeckers, 3 GoldenCrowned Woodpeckers, a Great Kiskadee, 2 Black-Crested Titmice, 5 Green Jays, a Mockingbird, a LongBilled Thrasher, a pair of Cardinals, an Olive Sparrow, 3 Bronzed Cowbirds, an Altamira Oriole, and 12 GreatTailed Grackles. Butterflies going by the gatehouse included Giant Swallowtails, a Great Southern White, several Large Orange Sulphurs, some Lysides, a SOUTHERN DOGFACE (couldn’t find one of these huge distinctive yellow butterflies all weekend for the counts), Queens, and Clouded Skippers. For lunch, Tom (Pendleton) and I went to NABA International Butterfly Park where in about thirty minutes we had about thirty species, including two we couldn’t find for the counts: another Dogface and a WHITE-PATCHED SKIPPER. Others included Giant Swallowtails, a big black Swallowtail (Black? Pipevine? RubySpotted?), Great Southern White, Little Yellows, A MIMOSA YELLOW!, Large Orange and Lyside Sulphurs, Gray Hairstreaks, Western Pygmy-and Ceraunus Blues, Metalmarks that wouldn’t stop to be identified, Gulf Fritillaries, Vesta, Phaon and Texan Crescents, Elada Checkerspots (many, and very fresh), Bordered and Crimson Patches, Hackberry and Tawny Emperors, Snouts, Queens, a Soldier, Carolina Satyr, Brown Longtail, WHITE-STRIPED LONGTAIL, Southern Skipperling, Laviana White-Skippers, White Checkered Skippers, Clouded and Eufala Skipper
 
July 17, 2007 Bentsen-RioGatehouse again, watching the first set of feeders only: Plain Chachalaca     3, White-winged Dove     9, Mourning Dove     1, White-tipped Dove     3, Yellow-billed Cuckoo     2, Golden-fronted Woodpecker     2, Ladder-backed Woodpecker     1, Great Kiskadee     1, Green Jay     5, Black-crested Titmouse     2, Olive Sparrow     1, Northern Cardinal     4, Great-tailed Grackle     9, Bronzed Cowbird     1.  Plain Chachalaca     3.   Lunch at NABA International Butterfly Park : Great Egret     1, Common Ground-Dove     8, Yellow-billed Cuckoo     2, Common Pauraque     1, Great Kiskadee     1, Couch's Kingbird     2, White-eyed Vireo     1, Green Jay     2, Northern Mockingbird     6, Long-billed Thrasher     3, Olive Sparrow     1, Lark Sparrow     2, Northern Cardinal     2, Blue Grosbeak     2, Dickcissel     6, Red-winged Blackbird     2, Great-tailed Grackle     2, Bronzed Cowbird     6, Altamira Oriole     1

Quick non-birding trip back to Ohio for funeral: The Blue Jays were truly amazing again with their bright colors!  All birds once old were new again!  So many I can't see in Texas anymore... and easy to see.  Didn't go birding but chanced upon: Canada Geese, Wood Ducks (many ducklings), Mallards, Great Blue/Green/BlackCrowned Night Herons, Turkey Vulture, Red Tailed Hawk, Bald Eagles, Kestrel, Killdeer, Lesser Yellowlegs, Sandpipers (Solitary/Spotted/Semipalmated/Least/Pectoral), ShortBilled Dowitcher, RingBilled/Herring Gulls, Rock/Mourning Doves, YellowBilled Cuckoo, Chimney Swifts, RubyThroated Hummingbirds, RedBellied/Hairy/Downy Woodpeckers, Flickers, Belted Kingfishers, Eastern Wood-Peewee, Eastern Phoebe, GreatCrested Flycatchers, Eastern Kingbirds, Warbling Vireo, BLUE JAYS, American Crows, Horned Larks, Purple Martins, NorthernRoughWinged/Cliff/Barn Swallows,  BlackCapped  Chickadees, Tufted Titmice, WhiteBreasted Nuthatches, Carolina/House Wrens, Gray Catbird, Brown Thrasher, Eastern Bluebirds, American Robins, European Starlings, Sparrows (Field/House/Song/Chipping/Savannah),  Cardinals, Indigo Bunting, Dickcissel, RedWinged Blackbirds, Eastern Meadowlarks, Common Grackle, House Finches, BrownHeaded Cowbirds, American Goldfinch
 
 
July 28, 2007 Bentsen-Rio Nature Tour: Mottled Duck     2, Plain Chachalaca     13 (including a Mohawk-ed youngster), Green Heron     2, Turkey Vulture     2, White-tailed Kite     1, Killdeer     1, White-winged Dove     20 Mourning Dove     10, Common Ground-Dove     3, White-tipped Dove     5, Yellow-billed Cuckoo     3, Greater Roadrunner     1 (near the gatehouse), Groove-billed Ani     1 (at the hawktower), Lesser Nighthawk     5 (one parked himself on a no-parking sign), Buff-bellied Hummingbird     1, Black-chinned Hummingbird     1, Golden-fronted Woodpecker     10, Ladder-backed Woodpecker     2, Brown-crested Flycatcher     3, Great Kiskadee     4 (still nesting in the courtyard at HQ), Couch's Kingbird     3, Scissor-tailed Flycatcher     1, Loggerhead Shrike     1 (catching bugs in the grass at HQ), Green Jay     6, Cave Swallow     125 (!), Barn Swallow     1 (!), Clay-colored Robin     3, Northern Mockingbird     12, Lark Sparrow     1, Northern Cardinal     9, Blue Grosbeak     1 (HQ courtyard), Dickcissel     1, Red-winged Blackbird     1,Great-tailed Grackle     33, Bronzed Cowbird     15, Brown-headed Cowbird     3, Orchard Oriole     3, Altamira Oriole     Other Notable Nature included:  MEXICAN HONEY WASPS (HQ courtyard), BANDED PEACOCK (HQ courtyard), RUBY-SPOTTED SWALLOWTAIL (second set of park feeders), White-Striped Longtail, Buckeye, Common Mestras, 10(!)Cottontails, Texas Spiny Lizard, Texas Spotted Whiptail, just 2 Javelina.

Fledgling Altamira Oriole
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Mohawked Chachalaca child
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From NABA Int'l B'fly Park 7/20/7 4 Skunk kittens
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NABA Surprised by a second Banded Peacock here today, as well as a Mexican Fritillary.

Banded Peacock-1 at Bentsen, this 1 at NABA today
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Mexican Honey Wasps
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July 29, 2007 Bentsen-Rio Anhinga     1, Swainson's Hawk 1 (Hawktower), Killdeer     1, White-winged Dove     17,Mourning Dove     10, Common Ground-Dove     2, White-tipped Dove     5, Yellow-billed Cuckoo     1, Golden-fronted Woodpecker     19, Ladder-backed Woodpecker     2, Northern Beardless-Tyrannulet 1 (Hawktower), Great Kiskadee     4, Couch's Kingbird     25, Scissor-tailed Flycatcher     1, Green Jay     1, Cave Swallow     30, Black-crested Titmouse     2, Clay-colored Robin     4, Northern Mockingbird     24, Long-billed Thrasher     1, Northern Cardinal     6, Blue Grosbeak     1, Red-winged Blackbird     130, Great-tailed Grackle     35, Bronzed Cowbird     15, Orchard Oriole     2.  At Green Jay Blind was a SILVER EMPEROR chased by a brown emperor.  At the HQ gardens was a Mexican Fritillary. There were no hummingbirds until after the Bird Walk was over!  Today at the office door was a Gulf Coast Toad:

Gulf Coast Toad-- note black side-stripe. Kewl,eh?
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Late-rising Buff-Bellied Hummingbird
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Sunday's Mexican Fritillary, 2nd only to S.Emperor
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July 30, 2007 Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park Just the gatehouse set of feeders from 1 to 5pm: 5 Green Jays, 5 Great Tailed Grackles, a pair each of WhiteTipped Doves, and Cardinals, a GoldenFronted Woodpecker, trios of WhiteWinged Doves, Bronzed Cowbirds, and Chachalacas, a Turkey Vulture overhead, a calling YellowBilled Cuckoo, a LongBilled Thrasher, an Olive Sparrow and a Mourning Dove. The nice surprise was THREE THREE THREE ROADRUNNERS! Another nice surprise was only my second set of snake photos since we moved to Texas! The first set was of Diamondback Watersnake at Edinburg. I’ve only seen three species since my move to Texas! This is the Mexican Racer, a subspecies of our Blue Racer back home in Ohio, about 18 inches long, bright green at the front, dull green at the back, with a yellow belly. He's harmless (unless you're a mouse) but he's not a good pet snake, because this kind never tames down. Two SWAINSON’S HAWKS flew over, as well as two White Ibis. A Leilia Empress landed on my glass door.
 
July 31, 2007 Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park Just the gatehouse set of feeders from 8 to noon:Plain Chachalaca 11 (INCLUDING THREE THE SIZE OF LITTLE QUAIL!), Great Egret 1, Green Heron 1, Turkey Vulture 2, White-winged Dove 4, Mourning Dove 1, Common Ground-Dove 2, White-tipped Dove 3, Yellow-billed Cuckoo 1, Greater Roadrunner 1, Golden-fronted Woodpecker 2, Ladder-backed Woodpecker 1, Great Kiskadee 1, Couch's Kingbird 2, Green Jay 5, Purple Martin 2, Cave Swallow 5, Black-crested Titmouse 3, Northern Mockingbird 1, Long-billed Thrasher 3, Olive Sparrow 1, Northern Cardinal 3, Great-tailed Grackle 6, Bronzed Cowbird 2, Altamira Oriole 1. It was fun for sure. Also, lots of Double-Barred Bluets and Black Setwings (Dragonflies), and a female SILVER EMPEROR showed up at the gatehouse, too, with 4 Blue Spiny Lizards. Bad things: two of my favorite birds (Blue Grosbeak and GREEN KINGFISHER) flew into the big glass windows today. Fortunately both recovered fully and flew away

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