Tuesday, February 9, 2010
I was up early yesterday to make the most of my last day in south Texas. I went to Quinta Mazatlan in McAllen and after about a 45 minute wait the crimson-collared grosbeak made an appearance. I had seen this bird in 2005 when several spent the winter at Frontera Audubon in Weslaco which is nearby. I would show you a picture, but my record shot in low light just is not good enough. Instead the photo above is of a south Texas specialty--a paraque--which is like a whip poor will for those familiar with that bird. I took this picture at Estero Llano Grande State Park which is one of the multiple sites of the World Bird Center in south Texas.
Before visiting Estero, I tramped around Santa Ana trying to find the hook-billed kite that randomly shows up there, but again I ended up kiteless. So I went over to Estero to try for some wintering sparrows that love the grassy areas at Estero. It had become pretty windy, so I would flush a sparrow, but it would not land on a tree or bush. Instead it would fall back into the grass which makes it almost impossible to get good field marks before the bird disappears again. After an hour of trying, I gave up, but found the paraque. I also met a birder from Carson City, NV who as it turns out will be on the same 2 pelagic trips this coming weekend, departing from Hatteras, NC, that I will be on as well. More on that in a few days.
While in south Texas I continued to take advantage of the many excellent and inexpensive taquerias that dot the landscape. Most are individual units, but there are also small chains like El Zarape that has 9 locations in the valley. A really nice, freshly made breakfast taco sure beats what most hotel chains are now offering as part of the room fee. A dinner based on small corn tortillas filled with various meats plus potatoes and charro beans is always good. I also tried for the first time a gorditas place. They specialize in fresh baked corn tacos that are thick enough to puff up. They make an incision in the tortilla that creates a pocket to put various ingredients inside it. You order these by the each, and they range in price from $1-2. Depending on your hunger, you might order 3-5 of these for a dinner. They are extremely tasty and a nice change from the normal corn tortilla dinner.
Yesterday generated 11 more birds for week #6, three of which were new YTD birds. I am back home for 3 days and will be doing another blog before my weekend pelagic trips about how the big year is going so far, so stay tuned!