Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Trip Report - Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival

Day One
Wednesday, November 4th

Today, I arrived at Harlingen, Texas about 11:00 am to attend the Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival. The Rio Grande Valley hosts many bird species that aren't found anywhere else within the U.S. as well as western species not seen at home in Florida.  And I have wanted to visit here for a long time.
Bronzed Cowbird
So after collecting my rental car, headed over to the convention center to collect my credentials Here I also collected my first species of the trip - the very numerous Great-tailed Grackle, Bronzed Cowbird and Inca Doves. 

Estero Llano Grande State Park

Then it was off to Estero Llano Grande State Park in Weslaco. This park is a must visit location for birders and had recently hosted a juvenile Northern Jacana. I had high hopes of seeing this rare-in-the-States Mexican bird, and had been regular in Estero for several weeks. but disappeared just two days before the festival began. Disappointing, but there was so much more to see.(bird List)
Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Upon arrival birders were commenting on sightings of a Ducky-capped Flycatcher and a Blue-throated Hummingbird. Spent some time looking for hummingbirds and saw Bluff-bellied and Ruby-throated Hummers. Missed the Blue-throated. At the visitors center deck over-looking ibis pond, was able see add both Least and Pied-billed Grebes, American Coots, Gadwall, Great Kiskadee, Great Egret, more Great-tailed Grackles and Red-winged Blackbirds. 

On the trails I added White-tipped, Inca and Mourning Doves, Indigo Buntings, Eastern Phoebes,  Vermilion Flycatcher, Sora, Lark Sparrow, a Eared Grebe, American White Pelicans, Scissor-tailed Flycatchers, Couch's Kingbird, a pair of White-tailed Kites, White Ibis, Great Blue Heron, Black-bellied Whistling Ducks, Blue-winged Teal, Tree and Barn Swallows, Blue-gray Gnatcatchers and Mockingbirds.
A pair of White-tailed Kites

Savannah Sparrow

Vermilion Flycatcher

Later in the afternoon, Dave and Tammy McQuade arrived at Estero Llano.  Dave and Tammy had been on a guided tour of a northern section of the King Ranch earlier in the day and had great success including a Ferruginous Hawk and a large gathering of Mountain Plover.

Eastern Screech OwlTexas Screech Owl or McCall's Screech Owl (Megascops asio mccallii, Range: Southern Texas (USA) south to northeastern Mexico
So now they were on-hand and quickly began a search for the Blue-throated Hummingbird. After a time we moved on as Dave was going to take me to a spot he knew about, to see a ground roosting Common Pauraque. This bird was just inches off the trail but was so easily missed do its being able to blend into the forest floor. Then we looked at a near by screech-owl box which had its resident Eastern Screech-Owl (McCall race) poking its head out to greet visitors. Down the trail was Alligator Pond, were  we saw  Anhinga, Ringed and Green Kingbirds, Long-billed Thrasher, Nashville Warbler, Spotted Sandpiper and Black-crested Titmouse.
Common Pauraque

After five and half hours of birding the property, it was time to check-in to the hotel and crash.  Dave and Tammy stuck around Estero to wait for the arrival of some friends of the theirs and to continue the search for the Blue-throat. They would add Plain Chachalaca after I left and Dave would spot a female Red-legged Honeycreeper at Estero a few days later.

White Ibis
Day List (50) - Black-bellied Whistling Duck, Gadwall, Blue-winged Teal, Least Grebe, Pied-billed Grebe, Eared Grebe, Anhinga, American White Pelicans, Great Blue Heron, Snowy Egret, Great Egret, Tricolored Heron, Green Heron, White Ibis, Turkey Vulture, Osprey, White-tailed Kite, Sora, Common Gallinule, American Coot, White-tipped Dove, Mourning Dove, Inca Dove, Eastern Screech Owl, Common Pauraque, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Buff-bellied Hummingbird, Ringed Kingfisher, Green Kingfisher, Eastern Phoebe, Vermilion Flycatcher, Great Kiskadee, Couch's Flycatcher, Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, White-eyed Vireo, Tree Swallow, Barn Swallow, Black-crested Titmouse, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Long-billed Thrasher, Northern Mockingbird, European Starling, Nashville Warbler, Lark Sparrow, Indigo Bunting, Red-winged Blackbird, Bronzed Cowbird, Great-tailed Grackle and House Sparrow.
Couch's Kingbird

Ringed Kingfisher

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