Sunday, October 31, 2010

A Tale of Three Phalaropes - Sal del Rey, October 31, 2010

Dan Jones found all three species of Phalarope at Sal del Rey, a tract of the Lower Rio Grande National Wildlife Refuge, on October 30. I went up October 31 to see what I could find. When I got to the refuge and walked in, Dan called me over and showed me the birds. Here's the Red Phalarope on the left, with a Wildon's on the right. Note the white crown on the Red, and the very small cheek patch on the red. The Red is on the left.
Here's the Red again. It's a long way to the birds and a scope is required to get any kind of a look at them. These pictures are digiscoped with a Swarovski and a 50 mm lens - not ideal conditions. Morning is best for low wind and good light. Today, the birds came closer with time.

Red Phalarope on the left, Red-necked Phalarope on the right. The distinctive streaks on the mantle are evident on the smaller and smaller-headed Red-necked Phalarope. Here they've switched sites, the Red on the right with its shorter, thicker bill and whiter forehead.
From the rear the Red Phalarope has a very dark crown with a narrow nape stripe,with the color of the stripe becoming paler closer to the bird's back.

Red left, Wilson's right

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Nesting Birds - Lesser Goldfinch and Ruddy Duck

October 2, 2010 - a brood of Ruddy Ducks on County Rd 20 Pond just north of 186 in Willacy Co. Texas. The four birds on the left are the chicks, the hen is on the right in this digiscoped view. This is a rare nesting bird in the LRGV. The chicks had obvious downy juvenal plumage, especially obvious on the back.
October 1, 2010 - Estero Llano Grande State Park, Weslaco, Hidalgo County. This female Lesser Goldfinch was collecting nest material. I first saw her as here collecting spider webs. Then I noticed her flying to an old nest and ripping large pieces out of the nest and flying off with them, presumably to construct the new nest.