Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Blue Bunting

We were up and out well before dawn to get over to Bentsen Rio Grande SP to see if we could hear/see a ferruginous pygmy owl. I already saw one in early January, but we wanted to try for another. No go on that, but lots of other birds calling early on a chilly morning. We walked over to the hawk tower and scanned the skies for 3 hours trying to catch at least a glimpse of a hook-billed kite. We saw 2 white-tailed kites but no hook bills. We also had 2 year birds--swainson's hawk and purple martin. We threw in the towel on the kite at 11 AM, and headed over to Laguna Atascosa NWR.

We stopped en route at a taqueria for a quick lunch. This was our 4th Mexican meal of this southern Texas tour. All were tasty and much better than your normal fast food. My favorite was the gorditas we had last nite for dinner.

We did not arrive at Laguna until almost 3 PM, and being well into the afternoon I was pretty skeptical about finding the blue bunting that has been seen there of late. We checked out the trail area where it was seen on Sunday, but things were very quiet. We walked back the other direction, and also found nothing at first. Then I heard a chipping and started pishing a bit to see what might pop up. Bingo, there he was, a fine looking male blue bunting. I called my wife and friends over, but by the time they came the bunting had ducked back under cover. I got 2 more quick looks at it, but then it disappeared. Since blue buntings are another very scarce bird out of Mexico, I was very happy to pick this bird up today.

We proceeded to drive the 13 mile long loop to see what else might be about. We found 2 more new year birds--gull-billed tern and northern bobwhite. It was a beautiful, sunny afternoon which made for good birding. As we drove into Laguna, we saw 1 white-tailed kite and many scissor-tailed flycatchers, but on the way out there were none visible. Instead we saw 4 greater roadrunners in a mile stretch of road. On Hwy 77 heading north we saw a few white-tailed hawks. I chose the golden-fronted woodpecker to be today's photo since we have seen so many of them over the past 3 days.

The bird count for the week climbed to 87, and the YTD number is now at 392. Tomorrow we will be going out on a boat to see the whooping cranes at Aransas NWR. Stay tuned!

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