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Big Week 2014

Part 2:  Hidalgo County Shorebirding

Was going to spend today just resting, but Pat Heirs offered to come pick me up and do some shorebirding around Hidalgo County, so I decided to "cheat" and use this as "Day 2" of my Big Week! ☺  We had a ball:  the weather was great, so we headed up 281 to FM 490 to Hargill, where Dan Jones had Wilson's Plover at the playa.  The light wasn't the best, but Pat had a bird that fit the profile, and in the meantime I was able to pick up Snowy Plover at least, along with Stilts, an Avocet, some Least Sandpipers, a Tricolored Heron, both Snowy and Great Egrets, and some Least Terns.  We went down a road that gave us a little closer view in better light, and this is where she was able to find the Wilson's (although I never could find it).  A nice Swainson's Hawk also soared overhead, and a few Western Kingbirds were good for the day.

We then headed east to FM 88 and south to Delta Lake, where despite the high water level we had a bunch more shorebirds, including brightly-colored Long-billed Dowitchers, one of which fooled us into thinking it had an upturned bill!  No such luck (hopes were high), although we did pick out a distant Marbled Godwit next to the stilts.  A few Stilt Sandpipers were in with the dowitchers, and Pat spotted (no pun intended) a Spotted Sandpiper along the bank.  Other goodies added to the list included several White-faced Ibis, Blue-winged Teal, Shovelers, and Laughing Gulls, along with a whinnying Sora.  Pat had her FOS Bank Swallows fly overhead here.

Somewhere in here we stumbled across a dike with a dead possum, where a Caracara was figuring out the best way to eat the thing while both a Turkey and Black Vulture looked on!  At one point another TV showed up, and all the Caracara had to do was give him a dirty look, and he backed off!

 

We stumble across two vultures (Turkey on the left and Black on the right) and a Crested Caracara getting ready to feast on opossum!

"Hmm--where do I start??"

Head-on look

Another Turkey Vulture tried to horn in...

"Don't even think it, buddy!"

"Mind your place, junior!"

We were thinking of heading to Progresso when I suggested we circle around and check the pond on the back side of Delta Lake (off FM 1015), only as we turned north on 1015, we passed a field that was being watered that was just stuffed with shorebirds!  The main crowd consisted of dowitchers, but as we sorted through the mob we were able to pick out Baird's, Pectoral, and lots of Lesser Yellowlegs!  Four Buff-breasted Sandpipers flew in showing off their white wing linings very nicely, and as we watched, several more became visible and eventually started wandering closer to the road!  I spotted a Golden Plover closer to the dike while Pat spotted an Upland Sandpiper, and a quick drive up a side road revealed Yellowlegs City, with gobs of both species represented!  Non-shorebirds included a nice Eastern Kingbird hanging with a Couch's/Tropical type, several Cave Swallows gathering mud for their nests, lots of pretty Scissor-tailed Flycatchers, and "Darth Vader" (Bronzed Cowbird) amongst all the grackles!  Needless to say we decided to skip Progresso after that...

One small part of the shorebird mob along FM 1015

Baird's Sandpiper

               

Buff-breasted Sandpipers

Pectoral Sandpiper

     

Cave Swallows collecting mud

The pond didn't have a lot of birds, but what it did have was very interesting: a female Redhead was hanging out with a Coot and a Neotropic Cormorant!  A Dickcissel was sitting hidden a tree, giving its braat call, but he never did show himself.

Distant view of a female Redhead at the 1015 Pond

We called it a day after that, with a respectable 64 species!

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