Saturday, February 6, 2010
Days 35-37: SE Arizona and S. Texas
It is Saturday evening and I am in McAllen, Texas. I have not been able to update the blog since Wed. night, so I have some major catching up to do. I finished up my swing thru Arizona and California on Thursday and Friday before catching a plane yesterday afternoon for south Texas. The birding in AZ on Thurs. and Fri. was typical--some expected birds, some surprises and some misses. The misses were 2 more attempts to track down black-capped gnatcatchers and rufous-capped warblers. The surprises included hammond's flycatcher (a life bird) and gray flycatcher, both seen at Patagonia Lake State Park. Normally I would have been looking for these 2 birds in June in Colorado, so finding them now was a real bonus.
I also stopped in to visit the Sonora Desert Museum just outside of Tucson. This is a great place to learn about the Sonora desert. They have several raptors and owls including the barn owl above that they show to guests. They also have a hummingbird house where you can walk around as the hummingbirds flit about you. For non-birders, no bird in captivity is countable in a big year total, so the barn owl is not yet on my YTD list.
Thursday night I stayed with an old family friend in Tucson who actually was the person back in 1973 that introduced me to birdwatching when she, my brother and I were hiking in Big Bend NP. We went out to eat at a restaurant called Wildflowers. The annual gem and jewelry show was in Tucson, so the restaurant was packed because it is one of the best places to eat in Tucson. I have eaten there several times and always had excellent meals. One reason I particularly like Wildflowers is a waiter there who is extremely knowledgeable about wine. He has never failed to suggest a really good wine (often pinot noir) to go with the food we have ordered. I shared a fried calamari and mizuna salad, and then had a miso glazed black cod dish that had house made ravioli and mushrooms.
Today I began my day at dawn in Laredo at the mouth of a small creek (Zacate) that dumps its waters into the Rio Grande river. I was there in hopes of seeing an amazon kingfisher that was found there about 2 weeks ago. This bird has never been confirmed before above the Mexican border. Unfortunately the bird has not been seen for the past 3 days, so I joined several other birders from around the country who came up short on the kingfisher. One of those birders was a guy from Cincinnati that I have birded with in the past on pelagic trips out of Hatteras, NC (more on pelagic birding trips next week when I do 2 of them). At least I was able to see a female white-collared seedeater in Laredo, along with 2 ringed kingfishers, and several other birds.
From there I drove to McAllen to look for another rarity, the roadside hawk. It had been at the Frontera Audubon property for the past 10-12 days. When I arrived at 4:15 PM there were several birders, including some I had seen in Laredo, looking for it. The story on everyone's lips was that earlier in the day the feather remains of what appeared to be a raptor were found at Frontera. By 6 PM no one had seen the bird, so it is possible that the remains were the roadside hawk. Nevertheless, I will be at Frontera early tomorrow to try again. I did get to see several red-crowned parrots flying overhead.
Week 5 is now "in the books". We finished the week with 141 total birds seen, 40 new species for the year, and one of those was a life bird. Week 6 is off to a roaring start with 86 birds so far in just 2 days. 16 are new birds for the year, and one is a life bird too. That brings the YTD total to 283 birds. I will be birding the next 2 days here in south Texas. Who knows what goodies I might turn up. Stay tuned!