I was up at 5 am to take Abby for her walk before I left for a day of back roads birding. I picked up Diana Miller at 6 am and headed over to the Stripes Gas Station in Coombs to meet up with 7 other people from the Arroyo Audubon group at 6:30 am. From there we drove to Ed Couch, Texas, to meet up with another birding group (another 7 or 8 people).
We started to drive the back roads caravan style. The general direction was north and west of Harlingen. In the afternoon, temps increased the point where we started to see butterflies.
We stopped at a pond near Delta Lake. There were lots of ducks here, mostly Gadwall, but also Mottled Duck, Green-winged Teal, American Wigeon, Redhead, a Ruddy Duck and a LONG-TAILED DUCK (quite a good bird in the Valley). There was also a Least Bittern calling, but remained hidden. Nearby we also had White-tailed Hawk and White-tailed Kite.
We stopped at several more ponds, small lakes and grassland/pasture land. Western Meadowlarks were seen everywhere. We went back to McCook and saw the Mountain Plovers again. Crested Caracara were seen in good numbers. Northern Harriers, Harris’ Hawks and Red-tailed Hawks were seen in several areas. Eared Grebes, egrets and herons were easily seen. At one pond there were about 100 Tree Swallows. In another spot there were approx. 75 Sandhill Cranes. A brilliant, male Vermillion Flycatcher put quite a show. There was quite a few warblers flitting around near the ponds. While searching for Sprague’s Pipits (we dipped on this), we were treated to a field full of Pyrroloxia. Kingbirds can be found quite easily.
Someone in the group received a message about a GRAY-CROWNED YELLOWTHROAT at Estero Llano Grande State Park. So off we went. Had a bite of lunch that Diana made once we got to Estero. And then we started to search for the warbler. There was quite a group looking for it. It had been seen shortly before we arrived. We waited for about an hours and it finally popped up, giving everyone grippling views. This LIFER wasn’t even on my radar list. In fact, I had not even heard of this bird before.
After leaving Estero, we headed back to the park. On the way, we had great looks at a Ringed Kiingfisher. We also saw several Belted Kingfishers, but dipped on Green Kingfisher.
Bed sure is going to feel good tonight.