Saturday, October 22, 2011

Birding the La Laja Ranch, west of San Ygnacio, Texas

The La Laja Ranch is a 3000 acre ranch with extensive access to the Rio Grande. There is a two-track road along the river with viewpoints to the river and extensive corrizo cane and many White-collared Seedeaters, the main attraction for birders.

Access to the ranch needs to be pre-arranged with the owner, Edward Herbst. There is a fee to visit the site, $25 per person in October 2011 for 6 or more birders; or a flat $150 for less than six. Contact information for Mr. Herbst is Someone will have to meet you on the highway (US 83 west of San Ygnacio) at the Arroyo Delores, let you through the gate, and show you the way to the river.

To date, every birding group has seen White-collared Seedeater! I went with six people on 10/21/2011, and each person saw 4-8 seedeaters. This private ranch is the best site I've visited for White-collared Seedeater, and the river access and hackberry trees in the riparian corridor make the birding interesting with Plain Chachalaca, Gray Hawk, Great Kiskadee, Long-billed Thrasher, and Clay-colored Thrush.