Friday, April 9, 2010

Can You Say Muscovy Duck?

This morning we were on the road at 5:15 AM to make the hour+ drive to Salineno in hopes of seeing a muscovy duck. This bird is seen only rarely along a very short section of the Rio Grande river centered on Salineno. I have seen the duck just one other time, and know that the key is to be watching the river at dawn. As the early morning light slowly illuminated the river we saw 2 ducks sitting on a log that was probably 500 yards up river. After much viewing thru the scope, it became clear that they were mottled ducks. However, at 7:23 a single muscovy duck came flying by heading down river.

We then drove the short distance to Falcon SP to look for a family of groove-billed anis that have been seen there. After walking all the trails for an hour, we came up short. We did see a cooper's hawk several times, and a harris's hawk too. We headed back toward Santa Ana NWR. Enroute we stopped in Roma at a small taqueria and had a simple but good Mexican breakfast. This meal was in contrast to the steak dinner the nite before at Santa Fe Steak House in McAllen.

We decided we should have a steak dinner since we were in Texas. The young woman at our motel reception desk suggested a place called Remington's which is in an Embassy Suites hotel. To test her recommendation, we walked in and asked the young lady working the Embassy Suites desk where a good steak house was. To our surprise, she did not suggest the 1 in the hotel, but told us to go to Santa Fe down the street, so we did.

The place was a classic steak house in ambience, menu and wine list. We wanted to drink an '06 St Cosme gigondas but they were sold out. Instead we drank an '06 chianti from Felsina that was ready to drink, and improved throughout the meal. For food, we tried the zozobra appetizer--2 large anaheim chili rellenos stuffed with crab that were quite good. Then I had a new york strip with a black bean and corn salsa relish that may have been the best part of the meal. I also had matchstick sweet potato fries. My friend had a perfectly cooked slice of standing rib roast with a side of sauteed spinach. We both walked out stuffed but happy.

After breakfast we returned to Santa Ana for another hawk vigil from the tower. We saw vultures, swainson's, broad-winged, and harris's hawks, but alas no hook-billed kite. We then checked the nearby sod farm again, and found a new group of american golden plovers and upland sandpipers.

Tonite we went to Poncho's--a Mexican restaurant with a bit of a reputation here in Pharr. The place was jammed, mostly with hispanic customers. The bohemia beer was good and cold, the enchiladas were solid, and the red snapper dish, which filled a plate to overflowing, proved quite tasty. The mariachi band, however, was an overly loud nuisance. Fortunately our food came quickly so we were in and out in an hour.

The first day of the new week ended with 55 different species seen, with the muscovy duck being the 449th new bird for the year. My friend flies home to Missouri tomorrow morning, and I am contemplating a whirlwind air trip myself back to Florida to try to see 2 rare birds--a western spindalis and a bar-tailed godwit. Stay tuned!

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