Photo Gallery - 2013 Field Trips

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All photographs ©2013 by Mary Beth Stowe


March 16, 2013 - Rarity Hunt (including Bentsen Rio Grande SP, NABA Garden, Santa Ana NWR, Frontera Thicket, & Estero Llano Grande SP


Decided to do a rarity hunt on Sunday, starting at Bentsen to try for the continuing Red-naped Sapsucker and the reported female Black-headed Grosbeak.  Got there about a half hour before dawn, where several Mockingbirds were carrying on song wars:  the one right outside the car was tuning up with a House Sparrow imitation, and another bird closer to the garden area was goading a neighbor into responding to his Altamira Oriole and Bobwhite renditions!  Heading across the canal a Black Phoebe was tuning up.


This Mockingbird starts with a House Sparrow, morphs into a scold, then continues with his own song.


Listen carefully, and you can hear a neighbor picking up this Mockingbird's Altamira Oriole imitation, and then later the Bobwhite!


Black Phoebe


Sat at the resaca for awhile, enjoying a Snowy Egret batting back and forth while a Great fed stoically in the distance and a Belted Kingfisher rattled unseen.  No sign of the sapsucker, so I wandered around the grove a little and then headed onto the Kiskadee Trail, hoping "Feeder Area #8" was the one along the Acacia Loop (these feeder designations were new since I was there last, and very helpful).  It was, so I sat for about 15 minutes hoping the grosbeak would come in.  She didn't, but a very pretty Vermilion Flycatcher showed off on the tree behind me, and a happy Altamira Oriole (for real) sang from the same area!  A distant Beardless Tyrannulet was nice for the day list.


Altamira Oriole


Vermilion Flycatcher


I was headed out and got as far as the Nature Center (the old gatehouse) when I ran into Marie Stewart, who talked me into going back and trying again for the grosbeak (as the feeders were due to be filled any minute)!  Picked up the Clay-colored Thrushes marauding the gatehouse feeders while waiting for the tram, which we didn't have to wait long for!  He dropped us off at the resaca and we walked the rest of the way, and after sitting at the feeders for another ten minutes or so, a lady behind us came up and asked, "Are you looking for the grosbeak?"  The silly thing was in a tree behind us the whole time!  She shortly flew over the road and into some trees a ways down from the feeders, but gradually made her way up to them.  The blackbirds had made short work of what PB had been there, so I don't think she got much of anything.



The female Black-headed Grosbeak landed in the sun for a split second, then zipped into the shade!



A comical head-on view and a look at the breast.



The shot on the left shows a hint of the diagnostic yellow "wing-pit".


After that Marie and I wandered back to the resaca bathrooms where Marie waited for the tram to the Hawk Watch, and I noticed a mob of Blue Spiny Lizards on the building!  After going over to say "hi" to Ranger Roy and his entourage I headed back out for good and rolled down the street to the National Butterfly Garden, checking the posts for the reported Prairie Falcon, but nada.



Several Blue Spiny Lizards hanging out at the old resaca bathrooms.


In the lep department I was kinda hoping to be able to shoot one of the several Falcated Orangetips that had been occurring in the Valley, but dipped on that one as well; had a gorgeous Variegated Meadowhawk in the parking lot, and down at the main garden ran into Cat Traylor, who was looking for some plants.  While chatting I spotted something "different" that turned out to be a Banded Peacock!  That was a nice consolation prize!


Variegated Meadowhawk


Blue-fronted Dancer



Best bug of the day was this Banded Peacock!


Tropical Checkered Skipper


Brown Longtail


Southern Skipperling


Laviana White Skipper


Mexican Fritillary


Since I was taking the back road to Santa Ana I decided that I might as well swing by 5th and Gardenia in Hidalgo and get the Monk Parakeets for the day and the year, then headed on to Santa Ana, where the targets were the continuing female Hooded Mergansers and the Glossy Ibis.  Several Plegadis-type ibis flew over while on the Pintail Lake Trail, but I was presuming White-faced until proven otherwise!  Once in the open I ran into a bird walk, and thankfully they had just seen the mergansers and showed me exactly where to look!  The light was perfect and as I turned the corner the ducks (which included gobs of Shovelers, some American Wigeon, and Gadwall in addition to the mergs) actually came closer!  That was pretty special!  Winding over to Willow Lakes I had an odd dragonfly that basically reminded me of a Blue Dasher, but I don't recall them having smoky smudges on the wings.  Picked up a Solitary Sandpiper in the shallow lake, and lots of stuff was in the main lake including several Cinnamon Teal; I got a kick out of the Least Grebes horning in on the ducks trying to get at whatever they were getting at! ☺  On the way out I had my FOS Scissor-tailed Flycatcher while yapping with Pat Heirs on the phone!


Female Roseate Skimmer (until told otherwise)



Female Hooded Merganser, scarce in the Valley



Blue Dasher (until told otherwise)


Thornbush Dasher


Northern Pintail flanked by a Cinnamon Teal and Least Grebe


From there headed over to Frontera to see if the Black Crescent was still around.  Terry and Marci Fuller had the same idea and had the trail to the feeder area staked out, but no crescent (aside from Texans).  I decided to sit at the feeder area, as that's where the Black-throated Gray Warbler was reported, and shortly had a female American Redstart come in!  That got Marci over, so we chatted a bit until another gentleman came and spotted an Ovenbird, which was blocked from my sight.  Left the Fullers to wait while I made the loop, scaring up a curious Long-billed Thrasher in the process.


Checkered White


Long-billed Thrasher


Headed over to Estero after that for some hoped-for Orangetips and chatted with Rick for awhile, but I didn't get far before I had to turn around and head home.  Ended up with 72 species for the day.


Bird List:

  Black-bellied Whistling-Duck          Dendrocygna autumnalis

  Gadwall                               Anas strepera

  American Wigeon                       Anas americana

  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

  Ring-necked Duck                      Aythya collaris

  Hooded Merganser                      Lophodytes cucullatus

  Ruddy Duck                            Oxyura jamaicensis

  Plain Chachalaca                      Ortalis vetula

  Least Grebe                           Tachybaptus dominicus

  Pied-billed Grebe                     Podilymbus podiceps

  Double-crested Cormorant              Phalacrocorax auritus

  Great Egret                           Ardea alba

  Snowy Egret                           Egretta thula

  Little Blue Heron                     Egretta caerulea

  Green Heron                           Butorides virescens

  White-faced Ibis                      Plegadis chihi

  Turkey Vulture                        Cathartes aura

  Harris's Hawk                         Parabuteo unicinctus

  Gray Hawk                             Buteo plagiatus

  Common Gallinule                      Gallinula galeata

  American Coot                         Fulica americana

  Black-necked Stilt                    Himantopus mexicanus

  Solitary Sandpiper                    Tringa solitaria

  Greater Yellowlegs                    Tringa melanoleuca

  Lesser Yellowlegs                     Tringa flavipes

  Long-billed Dowitcher                 Limnodromus scolopaceus

  Rock Pigeon                           Columba livia

  Mourning Dove                         Zenaida macroura

  Inca Dove                             Columbina inca

  Common Ground-Dove                    Columbina passerina

  White-tipped Dove                     Leptotila verreauxi

  Buff-bellied Hummingbird              Amazilia yucatanensis

  Belted Kingfisher                     Megaceryle alcyon

  Golden-fronted Woodpecker             Melanerpes aurifrons

  Ladder-backed Woodpecker              Picoides scalaris

  Crested Caracara                      Caracara cheriway

  Monk Parakeet                         Myiopsitta monachus

  Northern Beardless-Tyrannulet         Camptostoma imberbe

  Black Phoebe                          Sayornis nigricans

  Vermilion Flycatcher                  Pyrocephalus rubinus

  Great Kiskadee                        Pitangus sulphuratus

  Couch's Kingbird                      Tyrannus couchii

  Scissor-tailed Flycatcher             Tyrannus forficatus

  Loggerhead Shrike                     Lanius ludovicianus

  White-eyed Vireo                      Vireo griseus

  Green Jay                             Cyanocorax yncas

  Black-crested Titmouse                Baeolophus atricristatus

  Carolina Wren                         Thryothorus ludovicianus

  Blue-gray Gnatcatcher                 Polioptila caerulea

  Ruby-crowned Kinglet                  Regulus calendula

  Clay-colored Thrush                   Turdus grayi

  Northern Mockingbird                  Mimus polyglottos

  Long-billed Thrasher                  Toxostoma longirostre

  European Starling                     Sturnus vulgaris

  Orange-crowned Warbler                Oreothlypis celata

  Common Yellowthroat                   Geothlypis trichas

  American Redstart                     Setophaga ruticilla

  Yellow-rumped Warbler                 Setophaga coronata

  Olive Sparrow                         Arremonops rufivirgatus

  Northern Cardinal                     Cardinalis cardinalis

  Black-headed Grosbeak                 Pheucticus melanocephalus

  Red-winged Blackbird                  Agelaius phoeniceus

  Great-tailed Grackle                  Quiscalus mexicanus

  Altamira Oriole                       Icterus gularis

  Lesser Goldfinch                      Spinus psaltria

  American Goldfinch                    Spinus tristis

  House Sparrow                         Passer domesticus


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