Monday, April 12, 2010

Back in South Texas

I began today in the dark in Everglades NP in hopes of hearing a black rail calling at a location that it had been reported being over the past week. As the dark began to give way to day I heard chuck-will's-widows calling. Then great horned owl hooting. I kept listening, and listening and listening, but to my dismay I did not hear any black rails calling. At 7 AM I had to give up because I needed to drive to the airport to catch my plane back to Texas.

I arrived in McAllen at 3 PM and immediately drove to South Padre Island to see if the black-vented oriole seen and photographed yesterday with a large group of orchard orioles was still around. I arrived just as the rain was letting up, and heard that many birders had poured in during the day, but the black-vented had become what is called in the birding world "a 1 day wonder".

Even though the oriole was absent, the birding in a small garden next to the South Padre Island convention center was outstanding. I saw 4 new year birds in the trees and shrubbery--baltimore oriole, and tennessee, blue-winged, and kentucky warblers. I also got a shot of the hooded warbler at the top of the posting, and a group of indigo buntings in the bottom photo above. I am particularly fond of hooded warblers because several breed each year on our land in North Carolina. Other birds included ruby-throated hummer, chimney swift, yellow-headed blackbird; parula, black and white, and yellow-rumped warblers; lincoln sparrow, blue grosbeak, and summer tanager.

Behind the convention center on the mudflats was a large variety of shorebirds and gulls. Among them were 2 more new year birds--semipalmated sandpiper and franklin's gull. The franklin's were showing their beautiful breeding plumage pink/peach colored chest feathers. I ran into a birder from England that I had met at High Island last week. We both had a good time picking out various birds thru the scope including black skimmers; royal, caspian, least and forster's terns; stilt, pectoral, baird's, least and western sandpipers; willets; short-billed dowitchers; and black-bellied, piping, semipalmated and wilson's plovers.

There is an updated map of my travels thru today. The bird count for the week is up to 135, and the YTD number is now 460. Tomorrow I am off to the Brownsville dump to try to find a tamaulipas crow. Stay tuned!


  1. Bright beautiful birds! Haven't had the tanager banging at my window yet this year. I'm sure he'll show up with the warblers and buntings when you do in May.

  2. Heard but did not see several hooded warblers on a bird walk this past Sunday. Got good looks at ovenbird and northern waterthrush, also heard parulas, but nothing unusual here as of yet.