I arranged to pick up Ralph Peterson (a winter Texan birder from New York) at 7 AM. HOOK-BILLED KITES have been reported from a nature park in Mission, a city about 45 minutes west of Harlingen. They were first seen about 3 weeks ago. They are snail-eaters. And this location was evidently ideal for them with a ready supply of snails. However, they hadn’t been reported for about a week. I should have gone to see them right away, when they were first reported. But I just didn’t get around to it. Ralph and I arrived a little before 8 AM. There were several other people at the site already. Another 6 people showed up shortly thereafter. We waited for them to appear for 2 hours. We did see several pods of WHITE PELICANS, a GRAY HAWK, quite a few GREAT BLUE HERONS, four HARRIS’ HAWKS, many vultures and a couple of Javelinas. But no HOOK-BILLED KITES.
From there we drove down to the Rio Grande River to a spot where a BURROWING OWL has spent the winter. We saw the owl almost immediately upon arriving at the location.
It isn’t the best picture, but I wanted to post it anyway.
From here, we drove over to the Anzalduas County Park. This park is situated right on the river. Evidently it is packed on the weekends, but on a weekday there are not that many people around. Border Patrol Agents have a real strong presence here, though.
From the county park, we headed over to Bentzen State Park, a few miles down the road. On the way, we passed the National Butterfly Center. We spent a couple of hours walking the trails. We saw all the usual valley specialties. The only vehicles allowed in the park are staff vehicles. They have a tram making regular stops at various locations throughout. There are a number of blinds set up along the trails and feeder stations are numerous. I snapped the following picture of a GREAT KISKADEE flying in for a quick bite from a peanut butter log.