Another Run to the Coast

by AJ 29. January 2014 21:44

Today was pretty chilly.  Last night there was some sleet and freezing rain so schools were postponed until late morning.  It was a good day to do some laundry and have a good BBQ lunch at the original Willie's in Alamo.  Yummy food!

After lunch I figured a drive was the best bet so headed east and south to Brownsville.  There had been enough moisture that staying on paved roads was prudent so I headed towards Port Isabel.  At a boat ramp I found a number of species I'd missed so far plus a few others like Reddish Egret that are always fun to see.

Black Skimmers (one of my favorite birds) with Willets

Marbled Godwits (with Willets)

Spotted Sandpiper

I was hoping to maybe find an Aplomado Falcon along this road but no joy.  The wind was picking up as was the drizzle.  It was just one of those days if you were home you would stay inside but I'm in South Texas for crying out loud.  So it was on to South Padre Island in hopes of finding something offshore like a Northern Gannet.  Nope, but it was fun.

Surf's Up

I did find a few birds to photograph in the parking lots and along the beach.  Sanderlings really don't care how ferocious the breakers are.


Semipalmated Plover

Laughing Gull

Ring-billed Gull

Royal Tern


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El Rocio

by AJ 28. January 2014 21:19

Thanks to Loren & Babs Padelford, I learned about this great place to stay while birding the Rio Grande Valley.  It is an island of native vegetation in a sea of development - homes, RV parks, and the like.  Unfortunately I could only get the place for a week.  When I checked in an walked around a bit I knew it was a winner.

The place is a bit on the eclectic side but in a good way.  The main house is built around a tree which still serves as support for the roof.  It has three bedrooms and two baths and is really very nice for a larger group.  I enjoyed my neighbors.  Gene said he taught at Iowa State Teachers College many years ago.  I told him that dated him!

I should have taken more photos from here but oh well.  These are all from the patio where I had coffee each morning.

Clay-colored Thrush (there was a pair)


Gray Fox

Across the road from El Rocio is the Veteran's Cemetery.  A flock of about 40 Long-billed Curlews have found the lawns to their liking for a winter home.


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A Day at Llano Grande

by AJ 26. January 2014 16:29

Today I wanted to get back and bird the tropical forest area at Estero Llano Grande.  The last time I did this was after my broken leg and it was brutal. Today there were no rare birds but it was fun. Tropical forest birds fed at the many oranges and peanut butter feeding stations. 
Plain Chachalaca

Great Kiskadee

Golden-fronted Woodpecker

Long-billed Thrasher

I managed to find a sleeping Paraque in the woods.

Waterbirds were also in evidence and I did manage to find a very few dragonflies.  The butterflies are incredible and I need to learn them. This Mexican Bluewing is a stunner even though my photography skills were lacking.


Common Gallinule

To end a great day I managed to find the staging area for Green Parakeets heading into their nighttime roost - the local K-Mart parking lot. What noise!


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Birding Up River

by AJ 25. January 2014 17:31

It was the day to head up river and bird one of my favorite parts of the Valley. Thankfully the feeding operation at Salineno has started up again and it was great fun just hanging out at the feeders.  It was orioles, orioles, orioles! The most common species is Altamira with both an adult and juvenile shown here.


The prize for this part of the Rio Grande, however, is the Audubon's Oriole.


Falcon State Park was a bit of a disappointment for photography since there was no feeding operation going on this year. I did manage to get off a shot of a Roadrunner trying to hide from me in the grasses and a javelina crossing the road.




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Edinburg Wetlands

by AJ 24. January 2014 17:19

The cold front arrived and for this far south it was really, really cold! The wind drove right through my fleece and I never expected to need to wear gloves while birding here. Although it was too cold to wander around the ponds, a sheltered area of the wooded area produced five warbler species - Yellow-rumped, Orange-crowned, Black-and-White, Wilson's, and the prize - Tropical Parula.  One bird that seems to "weather the weather" pretty well is the Green Jay.


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Estero Llano Grande

by AJ 22. January 2014 16:11

What a fun day meeting up with old friend Jim and spending the morning birding Estero Llano Grande State Park. It was a beautiful morning and we found a few birds but no dragonflies yet. This Great Egret cracked us up as he stood by the depth marker.

This Eastern Screech Owl was sound asleep and oblivious to all the birders looking at it.


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Birding the Gulf Coast

by AJ 21. January 2014 09:48

I left home on January 19th and headed south as far as Waco, Texas for the night. The next morning it was another day of hard driving to South Padre Island for the night.  The plan was to bird the World Birding Center the next morning before heading inland, but the wind was howling and my car was getting sandblasted. Instead of trying to walk in that wind I simply drove out on some flats overlooking the bay and birded from the car. These Royal Terns were huddled together facing the wind.

The wind was still raging at Laguna Atascosa NWR but I did manage to snap a few photos from the bird blind. This Olive Sparrow was the first of many Valley specialties.



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