Rio Grand Valley Trip Summary & Photos ~ Jan 29th - 30th '05
A quick weekend chase trip down to the valley was the first I've taken in a year and it certainly wasn't a disappointment!
We started out on Saturday morning at Frontera at about 7:50 am with the intention of getting several cool birds which had shown up there. We were successful in getting the ones we wanted which were Crimson Collard Grosbeak, White-throated Robin and Elegant Trogon. But there were many great birds here and others included Black-headed Grosbeak, Buff-bellied Hummingbird, Tropical Parula, Orange-crowned, Yellow-rumped, Black-throated green, Black & White and Wilson's Warblers. Clay colored Robin, Ovenbird, Kisskadees, Ringed Kingfisher, Olive Sparrows, Summer Tanagers and Curve-billed Thrashers to name a few others.
Then it was on to Santa Anna NWR to try for the Blue Bunting. After waiting patiently all morning for the female Bunting to appear without success we decided to have lunch then came back to try one more time. This time the male had been spotted so after a mad dash to where he had been seen a wait of only 5 minutes finally produced the most amazing electric blue bunting which was definitely my favorite bird of the trip! He was seen at 1:30 pm.
Next was Anzalduas County Park. Lots of typical birds around - Ringed Kingfisher, American Goldfinch and Pine Siskin (one in with the Goldfinches, which I did not see myself), Vermillion Flycatcher, Kestrel, Northern Harrier, White-tailed Kite, Grey Hawk and Osprey. But it was here we came across a beautiful adult Broad-winged Hawk. First ID's had us excited over a possible Roadside Hawk but as it turned out the Broad-winged was a great find for this time of year (Photos below). At dusk we waited for the Short-eared Owls to appear and saw two of them. It was a great day!
On Sunday morning we started out in Brownsville at Ringold and International Blvd where a Golden crowned Warbler was being seen. We got good looks at this bird in the end, but not until some rude birder tried to get right under the bird for closer looks and scared it off much to the annoyance of the other birders. There's always one...! Other birds here included Ring-necked duck, Gadwall, Blue-winged Teal, Anhinga, Sharp-shinned & Coopers Hawks, Yellow-rumped & Orange-crowned warblers, Common Yellowthroats, a georgeous Yellow-throated Warbler, Tropical Kingbird, Red-crowned Parrots and Green Parakeets.
Next it was on to Sable Palm where we had Rose-throated Becard casually flying back and forth across the path by the visitor center. Northern Beardless-Tyrannulet was heard in this area also. A bunch of warblers were flying around together - Black-throated Green, Black & White, Orange-crowned, Yellow-rumped & Nashville, along with Kinglets, White-eyed Vireo, Black-crested Titmouse and Blue-grey Gnatcatcher. Also here were a flock of Cedar Waxwings, Least and Pied-billed Grebes, Anhingas, Caracara and one Common Ground Dove.
We then headed to Boca Chica with sightings of Chihuahuan Raven, Aplomado Falcon, White-tailed hawk & Sandhill Cranes before driving along the beach northward towards the jetty. While driving the beach we saw Osprey, Royal Tern, Willet, Red Knot, Ruddy turnstones, Sanderling, Reddish Egret, Northern Gannets, Herring gull and a nice first year Great Black-backed Gull (photos below). Watching this gull was awesome, even when it regurgitated its food then ate it again! Beautiful bird. Once at the Jetty there wasn't too much but had Peregrine falcon, Great blue heron, Snowy Egret, Brown Pelican and Northern Gannet.
Our last stop was in Los Indios for the Dusky-capped Flycatcher, a bird which has only a hand full of records for the lower valley and had been seen several times. We finally got the bird by hearing it singing out of the car window. It gave us great views!
It was a great trip with some rare sightings of birds out of their normal range. In many cases it is believed they are wandering from their normal ranges due to lack of food bought on by the extreme cold and snowy weather that has hit this part of southern Texas over the past month. Birders aren't complaining! :-)