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2012 Big Year

February 12 - La Sal del Rey & Estero Llano Grande SP

During the week I managed to add a singing Pauraque to the year list during a night-time walk around the complex where I live, and although not a year bird, it was nice to hear that our wintering Northern Flicker is still around!

Today (Sunday) was another wet day; I was sorely tempted to go out on the one sunny day we've had all week (Saturday), but Chore Day called (you still need clean clothes for the week :-P), and although I was doubting my sanity, it turned out to be a great day after all!

La Sal del Rey harbored no new year birds, unfortunately; there were several possible target birds, but I think the steady but light rain held most stuff down.  Since I like to survey this area on a regular basis anyway, I got some good data for that part of the website (always a delight to hear the Sandhill Cranes rolling and Snow Geese in the distance), and while conditions were not conducive to photography, a farm pond at the north end of Brushline had a nervous little lady Green-winged Teal that was quacking up a storm:    I was getting ready to report that the main caliche roads were just fine while wet, until I went down Rio Beef Road...

Several potential year birds were hanging around Estero Llano Grande State Park along with some continuing rarities, so I headed there next.  Norma Friedrich had her crew from ACAS out there the day before, and they had a blast, especially with a very cooperative American Bittern right off the deck!  When I arrived it was just starting to drip again, so I trotted to the deck and met up with park host Huck Hutchins who was pointing out the many ducks to a small circle of kids!  Right away one of the hoped-for ducks was smack in the middle of Ibis Pond: the male Canvasback!  After the kids went their way Huck and I caught up, then he pointed out the male Wood Duck, another target!  Many other ducks were about, of course (including a male Cinnamon Teal), and we enjoyed a Pied-billed Grebe chasing a Least Grebe around...  Cave Swallows were swooping over the pond, but alas no Tree Swallows, which I still needed...


Male and female Canvasbacks

Wood Duck

Pied-billed Grebe (you can see it starting to rain again...)

During a break in the drizzle I headed out to the Tropical Zone, where I ran into Rangers John and Kyle, along with Rick and May, another park host couple from Canada.  They reported that the Rose-throated Becard and the Barn Owl had been sighted along the Green Jay Trail, so John, May, and I poked along on there, dipping on the two targets, but John found me an Ovenbird, so I was thrilled with that!

From there I headed into the interior where I ran into Robin and her hubby from San Benito, and they had just seen the Brown Creeper!  Unfortunately I dipped on that one, too, as well as the Black-throated Gray Warbler and the Broad-tailed Hummingbird, although I did have a female-type Selasphorus that I suspect was a Rufous.  The Audubon's Oriole called over by Ben Basham's place, but wouldn't come out (they have a rising shack shack call that kinda reminds me of a Scrub Jay...).  I headed back to the Visitor Center by way of the boardwalk where I hoped to kick up some snipe, but got an American Pipit instead.  A male Vermilion Flycatcher was flopping around the metal poles, and this one very brave Shoveler just sat on the boardwalk as I went by!  It started misting again so my attempt to avoid getting wet failed, but I at least got some good exercise!


Female (or young male) Selapsphorus hummingbird that I suspect is the Rufous, as the tail didn't look long enough to be the Broad-tailed that was also hanging around the area.

Huck had given me directions to the silos in Progresso where the Yellow-headed Blackbirds were hanging out, so I headed there next, and just as I got to the spot, "Bippy" informed me I had an incoming call (this Subaru has a built-in hands-off phone system that scares the gee whiz outta me every time it goes off...), and it was Huck informing me that the American Bittern was back off the deck!  So after a quick scan of the blackbird flocks (no Yellowheads) I flew back to Estero, and thankfully he was still there, very wet and very focused! There were a lot of happy campers there at the end of the day!


Very wet American Bittern off the deck!


Intently stalking lunch...


Head-on shot on right


A couple from California with serious cameras showed me how to adjust the white balance for a cloudy day--what a difference!

Bird List (new species are in CAPS):

  Snow Goose                            Chen caerulescens

  WOOD DUCK                               Aix sponsa

  Gadwall                               Anas strepera

  Mottled Duck                          Anas fulvigula

  Blue-winged Teal                      Anas discors

  Cinnamon Teal                         Anas cyanoptera

  Northern Shoveler                     Anas clypeata

  Northern Pintail                      Anas acuta

  Green-winged Teal                     Anas crecca

  CANVASBACK                              Aythya valisineria

  Ring-necked Duck                      Aythya collaris

  Ruddy Duck                            Oxyura jamaicensis

  Plain Chachalaca                      Ortalis vetula

  Least Grebe                           Tachybaptus dominicus

  Pied-billed Grebe                     Podilymbus podiceps

  Double-crested Cormorant

  AMERICAN BITTERN                        Botaurus lentiginosus

  Black Vulture                         Coragyps atratus

  Turkey Vulture                        Cathartes aura

  Northern Harrier                      Circus cyaneus

  Cooper’s Hawk

  Harris's Hawk                         Parabuteo unicinctus

  Red-shouldered Hawk                   Buteo lineatus

  White-tailed Hawk                     Buteo albicaudatus

  Red-tailed Hawk                       Buteo jamaicensis

  Crested Caracara                      Caracara cheriway

  American Kestrel                      Falco sparverius

  Common Gallinule

  American Coot                         Fulica americana

  Sandhill Crane                        Grus canadensis

  Killdeer                              Charadrius vociferus

  Black-necked Stilt                    Himantopus mexicanus

  Spotted Sandpiper                     Actitis macularius

  Long-billed Curlew                    Numenius americanus

  Least Sandpiper                       Calidris minutilla

  Rock Pigeon                           Columba livia

  Eurasian Collared-Dove                Streptopelia decaocto

  Mourning Dove                         Zenaida macroura

  Inca Dove

  White-tipped Dove                     Leptotila verreauxi

  Rufous Hummingbird                    Selasphorus rufus

  Golden-fronted Woodpecker             Melanerpes aurifrons

  Ladder-backed Woodpecker              Picoides scalaris

  Eastern Phoebe                        Sayornis phoebe

  Vermilion Flycatcher                  Pyrocephalus rubinus

  Great Kiskadee                        Pitangus sulphuratus

  White-eyed Vireo

  Green Jay                             Cyanocorax yncas

  Horned Lark                           Eremophila alpestris

  Cave Swallow                          Petrochelidon fulva

  Black-crested Titmouse                Baeolophus atricristatus

  Carolina Wren

  Bewick's Wren                         Thryomanes bewickii

  Blue-gray Gnatcatcher                 Polioptila caerulea

  Ruby-crowned Kinglet                  Regulus calendula

  Northern Mockingbird                  Mimus polyglottos

  Long-billed Thrasher                  Toxostoma longirostre

  European Starling                     Sturnus vulgaris

  American Pipit                        Anthus rubescens

  OVENBIRD                                Seiurus aurocapilla

  Orange-crowned Warbler                Oreothlypis celata

  Common Yellowthroat                   Geothlypis trichas

  Yellow-rumped Warbler                 Setophaga coronata

  Olive Sparrow                         Arremonops rufivirgatus

  Lark Sparrow                          Chondestes grammacus

  Northern Cardinal                     Cardinalis cardinalis

  Pyrrhuloxia                           Cardinalis sinuatus

  Red-winged Blackbird                  Agelaius phoeniceus

  Eastern Meadowlark                    Sturnella magna

  Western Meadowlark                    Sturnella neglecta

  Brewer's Blackbird                    Euphagus cyanocephalus

  Great-tailed Grackle                  Quiscalus mexicanus

  Brown-headed Cowbird                  Molothrus ater

  Audubon's Oriole                      Icterus graduacauda

  American Goldfinch                    Spinus tristis

  House Sparrow                         Passer domesticus



So far:  190 SPECIES


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