Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge
|The now rare to the Rio Grande Valley,|
was once more numerous here
including Santa Ana NWR.
Today only a few are found within the U.S.
None have been seen at Santa Ana for many years.
Today's field trip takes us to the Santa Ana NWR. This is another venue bordering the Rio Grande, offering a many of the Mexican and western birds I came to see.
Just like at Estero Llano Grande State Park, a rare to the U.S, juvenile Northern Jacana had recently been seen here. And just like at Estero Llano Grande, it disappeared before the festival started. Just the same lots of great birds are found here.
Our leaders today were Raul Garza, a ranger at Santa Ana, and international birder, Julian Hough, They guided our group on the trails around Pintail Pond. We started with distant views of an Altamira Oriole (a Lifer) and Scissor-tailed Flycatchers, before reaching the pond.
At the pond I had another lifer in a White-faced Ibis. Lots of waterfowl to sort through as well. These included Black-bellied Whistling Ducks, Gadwalls, Blue-winged Teal, Cinnamon Teal, Northern Shovelers, a Ring-necked Duck, Lesser Scaup, American Coots, and Common Gallinule.
Other birds at the pond included Black-necked Stilts, Great Egret, Killdeer, Greater Yellowlegs, Least sandpiper, Little Blue Heron, Tricolored Heron, Green Kingfisher, Sora, Great Kiskadees and Red-winged Blackbirds.
Soaring raptors appeared as the day warmed-up with American Kestrel, Harris's Hawks, Turkey Vultures, a Red-shouldered Hawk and a very exciting find in a pair of Hook-billed Kites. Hook-billed kites are very uncommon in the U.S. and are only seen along the Rio Grande.
Other sightings seen at this venue included Western Meadowlarks, Eastern Phoebes, a Savannah Sparrow, Vermilion Flycatchers, White-eyed Vireo, Northern Rough-winged Swallows, Tree swallows, Cave Swallows, House Wrens, Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, Ruby-crowned Kinglets, Long-billed Thrashers, Northern Mockingbirds, American Pipit, Indigo Buntings, Great-tailed Grackles and a lifer with some Lesser Goldfinches.
|A bad picture of a lesser Goldfinch|
We ended the trip at the bird feeders.Here we had lots of House Sparrows, Green Jays, Grackles and a very uncooperative Clay-colored Thrush, another lifer
Looking for an Aplomado Falcons
The Aplomado Falcon was a resident to Texas and the U.S. Southwest till being extirpated several decades ago. The current falcon population east of Harlingen is the result of the re-introduction of falcons from a captive breeding programs.
This afternoon I drove east from Harlingen on FM 100 to a spot being called the Aplomado Falcon viewing area. Several birders were on hand scoping the area and after an hour one was located. It was a very distant view and we all took quick looks on the scope before it moved on.
Lots of other raptors were present and easier to find including Turkey Vultures, White-tailed Kites, Northern Harrier, White-tailed Hawk and an American Kestrel
Also seen were several flocks of Long-billed Curlew, Black-bellied Whistling Ducks and American White Pelicans. Also added were Great Egrets, Loggerhead Shrike, Eastern Meadowlark and Grackles
Today's Bird List - (68)
Black-bellied Whistling Duck, Gadwall, Blue-winged Teal, Cinnamon Teal, Northern Shoveler,
Ring-necked Duck, Lesser Scaup, Pied-billed Grebe, Double-crested Cormorant, American White Pelicans, Great Great, Little Blue Heron, White-faced Ibis, Turkey Vulture, White-tailed Kite, Hook-billed Kite, Northern Harrier, Harris's Hawk, White-tailed Hawk, Red-shouldered Hawk, Common Gallinule, American Coot, Black-necked Stilt, Killdeer, Greater Yellowlegs, Long-billed Curlew, Least Sandpiper, Mourning Dove, Common Pauraque, Belted Kingfisher, Green Kingfisher, Golden-fronted Woodpecker,Ladder-backed Woodpecker, American Kestrel, Aplomado Falcon, Northern Beardless Tyrannult, Eastern Phoebe, Vermilion Flycatcher, Great Kiskadee, Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, Loggerhead Shrike, White-eyed Vireo, Green Jay, Northern Rough-winged Swallow, Tree Swallow, Barn Swallow, Cave Swallow, House Wren, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Clay-colored Thrush, Long-billed Thrasher, Northern Mockingbird, American Pipit, Orange-crowned Warbler, Nashville Warbler, Common Yellowthroat, Olive Sparrow, Savannah Sparrow, Indigo Bunting, Red-winged Blackbirds, Western Meadowlark, Eastern Meadowlark, Great-tailed Grackle, Altamira Oriole, Lesser Goldfinch and House Sparrow