Sunday, April 19, 2009

Birding Texas

Just back from a 10 day trip birding the Texas Hill Country, Lower Rio Grande River and the Texas coast. Overall it was a great trip with lots of exciting birds.

We started at Cancan, Neal's Lodge and found two endangered species, Black-capped Vireo and Golden-cheeked Warbler. Both species are very rare and only occur on a limited range.

We had great views at Lost Maples Natural Area. The Golden-cheeked Warblers were easy to find by listening for their distinctive song, reminiscent of the Black-throated Green Warbler of the east. The Black-capped Vireo took a bit more effort to find. We climbed a steep trail for about a mile, in +30c temperatures, but finally had excellent views of 2 or 3 individuals.

The Lower Rio Grande region was an interesting area for a number of specialties that just reach into southern Texas. These species included Least Grebe, White-tailed Hawk, Plain Chachalaca, White-tipped Dove, Ringed Kingfisher, Red-billed Pigeon, Common Pauraque, Great Kiskadee, North Beardless Tyannulet, Couch's Kingbird, Clay-colored Thrush and Green Jay to name a few.

While birding along the Rio Grande for a few days we visited a number of the State Parks, Wildlife Refuges and Audubon areas. Frontera Audubon House and Thicket, near Weslaco, had a few rarities including a female Crimson-collared Grosbeak and Blue Bunting. Other north bound migrants included Hooded Warbler, Blue-winged Warbler, Nashville Warbler, Northern Parula and Blue Grosbeak.

Many areas were very dry due to a lengthy drought, but Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge and Estero Llano Grande State Park had a number of ponds and lots of activity including both Black-bellied and Fulvous Whistling Ducks, Least Grebe, Green and Ringed Kingfisher, Mottled Duck and White-faced Ibis.

Before heading to South Padre Island we made a brief stop along Old Port Isabel Road and had fantastic views of both Aplomado Falcon and White -tailed Hawk resting in trees while Cassin's Sparrow's were in full song!

On South Padre Island we had a number of spring migrants including Baltimore Oriole, Orchard Oriole, Summer Tanager, Yellow-breasted Chat and Yellow-throated Warbler. These birds were attracted to the fruit feeders and water drips at the South Padre Convention Center, always a good location to look for migrants.

We finished the trip part way up the Texas coast in the Corpus Christi area at Blucher Park with a small variety of migrants. Highlights included Kentucky Warbler, Chuck-wills-Widow, Indigo Bunting and Buff-bellied Hummingbird.

A wonderful 10 days of birding and photography. You can view photos of the trip here.

Good birding,

1 comment:

Jo-Anne said...

Wonderful photos!

Wouldn't want to accidentally back up into that huge cactus. Cripes!