Yesterday, Saturday, January 23rd, 16 birder’s from various locations in the Lower Rio Grande Valley, met up at 6 am at the Whataburger in La Joya, about an hour’s drive northwest of our place in San Benito. Diana, Jim and I, from Fun and Sun, left here at 5 am. The way to La Joya from here is to drive northwest along expressway 83, which roughly parallels the Rio Grande River. Not much traffic at the time of day on a Saturday morning.
The group ate various breakfast meals and grabbed some coffee for the rest of the trip at the Whataburger. Shortly after 6:30, we got back in our vehicles and headed back on the highway to Salineno, our first destination. The highway becomes more of a two-lane road at this point, passing thru a number of Tex-Mex towns. As we we driving thru Rio Grande City, the leader suddenly turned off onto a side road, parked the car and jumped out of the car, with binoculars and camera in hand. The rest of us did the same. As soon as we were out of the car, we heard them. The light was still not the best, but it was easy to see them. Approximately 130 Green Parakeets were perched in a leafless tree right in town, chattering away.
After enjoying the parakeets for about 30 minutes, we piled back in our vehicles and got back on our way to Salineno. Upon arrival, we headed right down to the river. We started surveying the area right away. Two birds sometimes found here are Muscovy Ducks and Red-billed Pigeons. I once saw Red-billed Pigeons here in flight, about 4 years ago. I still have not seen wild Muscovy Ducks yet. And yesterday was no different. These two species did not put in an appearance.
However, along the river, besides a friendly encounter with the Border Patrol, we did see both Neo-tropic and Double-crested Cormorants, a Spotted Sandpiper, a Black Phoebe, a Gray Hawk, a Bufflehead, a Common Yellowthroat, numerous Orange-crowned Warblers, several Blue-Gray Gnatcatchers, and sparrows — mostly Savannahs and Chipping, but also Clay-coloured, Vesper and Lincolns.
Next we walked on up the road a short way to the “feeding station”. Along the way, we stopped to watched a small flock of Pyruloxia. The feeding station has been in existence for many years. The “caretaker” stays right there in an RV. There are about 15 to 20 lawn chairs lined up that look out over an array of bird feeders. In addition, orange are cut in half and impaled on various nails throughout the area. A mixture of peanut butter, lard and cornmeal is smeared on the trees at various spots. Visitors to the feeding station (and there are lots of them) always bring bags of seed and fruit as donations to care-taker.
We were treated to continuous feeding of Red-winged Blackbirds and Brown-headed Cowbirds. A Dickcissel and an Olive Sparrow wandered in amidst the blackbirds. Altamira Orioles were every where. I did not see any Hooded Orioles, although there were some in the area. An Audubon’s Oriole put in a brief appearance. This was a “lifer” for me. A Long-billed Thrasher showed very well. Both Golden-fronted and Ladder-backed Woodpeckers were there. Also a Bewick’s Wren crept in for a brief visit. This is really a magical place and is a very well-known among birder’s in the valley.
Finally we headed out and headed back home. On the way home, a Greater Roadrunner ran across the road in front of us.
What a great day.