Saturday, February 20, 2016

LRGV Run-around - the end

Friday we went to Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park and started out with a White-crowned Sparrow, Hooded Oriole, Pyrrhuloxia, Curve-billed Thrasher, Black Phoebe, Cave Swallow, and a domestic feral Muscovy Duck near the HQ.  We finally walked in to the nature center feeders and the spectacle of feeding time kept us entertained with Altamira Orioles, Clay-colored Thrush, more Plain Chachalacas, Green Jays, Great Kiskadees, Northern Cardinals, and other great birds.  We jumped on the first tram to save time and went to the Kiskadee Blind, where we saw more Clay-colored Thrush, a Verdin, Olive Sparrows, a Hermit Thrush, and yet no White-throated Thrush.  Off to feeder #10, where we arrived at the same time as the volunteers.  We had about a ten minute wait for the Audubon's Oriole, an immature decked out in yellow and black.  It was already hot, sunny, and windy. Back to the Kiskadee Blind, where we again met the volunteers and waited in vain for the White-throated Thrush. 

We headed to Anzalduas County Park where it was hot and windy.  Still.  Joe immediately found a Black-throated Gray Warbler, and we wandered around and had great looks at a Northern-Beardless Tyrannulet.  Then it was off to the floodway and a forced march for the Sprague's Pipit. It didn't take long to find one, and we walked up to the area where it landed to find it marching around on the dead grass in plain view!  Another joined it, and we were stunned to see these birds at close range walking around in the short grass.  Wow!  Where's my camera?  Three White-tailed Hawk immatures were fighting over a snake, grabbing it away from each other and fighting over it in flight.  Off to Taco Express in Mission for ... more tacos! 

After lunch, we decided to take John McClung up on his generous invitation and we headed to Casa Santa Ana B&B.  We joined the multitudes that had been waiting since 730 AM for the White-throated Thrush.  We hadn't been there ten minutes when Joe and Tim were both on the bird!  The rest of us missed it.  Another ten minutes later, and the other Tim was on it!  Within twenty minutes we'd all had great looks at this super stealthy bird.  Wait, what next?  I'd planned to spend the whole afternoon as it's a nice place to sit in the shade and enjoy the breeze. 

We'd had some folks miss or nearly so the Cactus Wren on OPIR on day one, so we went back to Mission Nature Park.  As soon as we walked ten feet we spotted one on a prickly pear in the open.  These pretty birds have intricate markings and are such clowns, I'm glad it was putting on a show.  Try as I might, I couldn't find a Bewick's Wren.  The vote was back to the hotel, so away we went with a quick stop at Walmart for one and a look around for blackbirds including Bronzed Cowbirds for the rest of us. 

A couple hours at Frontera again on Saturday morning before the airport yielded a Painted Bunting and a near miss on the Blue (again).  We spent about 3 days birding (given their late arrival), saw 172 species, drove 520 miles, and had some of the best tacos in the LRGV at Nanas and Taco Express.  We walked 5-7 miles a day, and everyone had a WOW bird or three - including me.