a couple of birdy days — long post

27 Mar

My friends, Steve and Aaron Charbonneau, arrived here around supper time on Monday.  I took them over to Diana’s (she has a rental unit where they were going to stay while here) to meet her and unpack.  Then we had supper, caught up on things and talked about birding plans for the next day.

Breakfast at Julias in Los Fresnos enroute to South Padre Island.  Steve and Aaron Charbonneau with their coffees.

Breakfast at Julias in Los Fresnos enroute to South Padre Island

Tuesday morning we left the park at 6:30 and headed to South Padre Island.  South Padre Island is a popular tourist destination.  Students flock to the island for spring break.  There are condo buildings everywhere you look.  Lots and lots of restaurants, bars, souvenir stores, etc.  But this island also provides excellent birding opportunities, especially during spring migration.  And migration is underway.  Warblers are beginning to show up. On the Island, we first went to Sheepshead Road.  There was not much activity there.  But we did find a couple of Clay-coloured Sparrows and a Yellow-rump. From there, we headed over to the Convention Centre.  The grounds around the convention centre are set up nicely for birders.  Trees and bushes attract migrants in big numbers.  The shore-line (large flat sandy area) adjacent to the convention centre has lots of water birds.  There is also a boardwalk extending out over the an adjacent marsh area.  At this time, there is quite a lot of construction going on there around the convention building itself.  Still we did see a number of warblers.  Northern Parulas and Yellow-rumps were nice to nice.  A Great Kiskadee put in a quick appearance.  Also, a couple of Ruby-throated Hummingbirds were flitting around. The boardwalk gave us views of some ducks and some waders.  We were also able to scope some Black Skimmers, Marbled Godwits, Long-billed Dowitchers, Black-necked Stilts and some Stilt Sandpipers.  Terns were flying around.  Caspians, Royals, Sandwich and Gull-billed Terns were all there. Then we moved next door to the Bird and Nature Centre.  There is a small admittance fee for access to this birding area.  $4.00  The very extensive boardwalk allows people to wander over a great marshy area, providing excellent looks at lots of neat birds. 1-2 1-3 The boardwalk gave us great views of Clapper Rail, Sora, Little Blue Herons, Tri-coloured Herons, Roseate Spoonbills, Pied-billed Grebes, Great Blue Herons, Great, Snowy and Reddish Egrets, White Ibis, NUMEROUS Osprey, plus lots of American Coots and Common Gallinule and Brown Pelican. We left the island and headed down Highway 100 looking for Aplomado Falcon.  I have been looking for them on and off a number of times.  Larry, Paul and Bob and I looked for them also.  We always came up empty.  But this time we did NOT dip on the falcons.  In fact, we saw three together.  This falcon is a “lifer” for me.  There are only 31 known breeding pair.north of Mexico. After seeing the falcons we headed down some back-roads to get over to the Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge.  In a region of Texas some call the last great habitat, thorn forest intermingles with freshwater wetlands, coastal prairies, mudflats and beaches. Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge On the way there, we picked up White-tailed Hawk.  At the refuge, we saw lots of birds, including Black-bellied Whistling Ducks, Gadwall, Redheads, coots (1000’s) teal, shoveler, Ruddy Duck, Plain Chachalaca, Least Grebe, cormorants, White-faced Ibis, Crested Caracara, American Golden Plover, all of the doves (including White-tipped), Greater Roadrunner, Golden-fronted and Ladder-backed Woodpeckers, Loggerhead Shrike (they are everywhere), Couch’s Kingbird, Scissor-tailed Flycatcher (all over the place), White-eyed Vireo, Black-crested Titmouse, Bewick’s, House and Marsh Wrens. We followed some back roads (of course) as we left the Refuge and headed back home. The following day we started out again at 6:30 am.  This time we headed to the Estero Llano Grande State Park.  This World Birding Centre is about 30 minutes of the RV Resort Park.  I love this place.  It is attracts lots of birds and birders.  On Wednesdays they have guided bird hikes.  We decided to join the hike.  In addition to regular park staff there are volunteer park hosts that winter in the park.  These people are there to assist visitors with birds and butterflies.  One of the park hosts is Dave Elder and his wife.  They are from Atitkokan, Ontario. Another of the park hosts are Rick and Pat Snyder from Parry Sound.  Interesting to note that two of the primary park hosts are from Canada. We saw lots of birds on this hike.  There were a number of teal, including Cinnamon Teal,  cormorants, including Neo-tropic, American White Pelicans, Common Ground-Dove, Eastern Screech-Owl,  Buff-bellied Hummingbird, Ringed Kingfisher, Clay-coloured Thrush, Long-billed Thrasher, Summer Tanager, Olive Sparrow and Altamira Oriole among others.  Here are a few pics I took at Estero. 1-1 2015_03_25_1027(1)

Olive Sparrow

Olive Sparrow

Clay-Coloured Thrush

Clay-Coloured Thrush

We headed over to Anzulduas County Park upon leaving Estero.  Here we picked up Black Phoebe and Green Kingfisher.  There is always a very heavy Border Patrol presence at this park.  It is right on the Rio Grande River and there are always numerous attempts of illegal crossings. We took back-roads back to the trailer again.  And we discovered that Swainson’s Hawks were on the move.  Along County Road 490, we must have seen 4 or 5 on the wires. When we arrived back at the park, we noticed Red-crowned Parrots (perhaps 7 birds) in the trees close to the road.  They were flying around and making lots of noise.

Red-crowned Parrot

Red-crowned Parrot

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Posted by on March 27, 2015 in Uncategorized


2 responses to “a couple of birdy days — long post

  1. Steve Charbonneau

    March 27, 2015 at 9:29 pm

    Wow, Dave! A great summary and some nice pics. I want to come back! We made it to Colorado this afternoon but not before adding 4 burrowing owls in northern Texas. Already got prairie falcon and Pygmy nuthatch here. Again, thanks for a great time.

  2. Jo-Ann Gruber

    March 28, 2015 at 9:17 pm

    What A great day! We went out to the convention center today and saw many of the same birds you mentioned. Congrats on the falcon…3 huh?

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