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All photographs ©2015 by Mary Beth Stowe

 

January 17, 2015 - Bentsen Rio Grande SP & Anzalduas CP

 

La Parida Banco Resaca

Today's targets were the continuing Red-naped Sapsucker and Black-headed Grosbeak, both of which I dipped on, but had some nice birds nonetheless; getting to Bentsen about a half hour before dawn netted a Great Horned Owl, but that was it for the night birds.  It was pretty quiet, but it turned out to be a beautiful, sunny day, and the resaca at Kingfisher Overlook was lovely!  Red-shouldered Hawks were yelling at each other on the way in, and while poking around looking for the sapsucker, a Gray Hawk whistled, so I felt safe counting it!  All three kingfishers eventually showed up, and was thrilled to see a group of Eastern Bluebirds in the grove, my first for the park! 

Eastern Bluebirds along the Green Jay Trail

Meandered over to Kiskadee Trail and sat at the Acacia Loop feeders for awhile, seeing if the grosbeak would come in.  They hadn't been stocked yet, but it was still a busy place with the usual Green Jays, Kiskadees, and woodpeckers of both types.  I gave it about ten minutes before something spooked them all, then headed over to Kiskadee Blind where after awhile the jays and White-tipped Doves started coming in like gangbusters (and my Beardless Tyrannulet came through in the meantime ☺)!  I gave that one a full 15 minutes, but still no grosbeak, so headed back to the grove where a volunteer had just stocked the feeders behind the "wall", so I just took a peek to see what would be raiding the place.  Just the regulars...

Ladder-backed Woodpecker at the Acacia feeders

Another view of the resaca

   

Red-winged Blackbird (left) and Great Kiskadee, two of the more common feeder-bashers...

Dragged myself back to the Nature Center (the old entrance gatehouse) where there's always a party going on!  Chachalacas and Green Jays were hogging the joint, of course (along with House Sparrows and Redwings), but I was hoping for a Clay-colored Thrush, which the park host said had been there earlier.  An Altamira Oriole came in, and I think a Long-billed Thrasher was making noise in there as well, but after 15 minutes I gave up and was about ready to leave when I got to yakking with a lady and mentioned I was hoping for the thrush, and she said, "Isn't that it right there?"  Sure enough, said thrush was sitting right in the crux of one of the mesquites!  Talk about an 11th hour bird!

This Altamira Oriole looks a little annoyed that no one's changed the orange yet!

Headed out to the VC to officially check in and renew my pass, picking up the requisite Black Phoebe at the canal (after playing a little hide-and-seek under the bridge first ☺).  I didn't know of any specific rarities at Anzalduas, but they often have wintering warblers, plus I wanted to bag the House Finches and the Burrowing Owl at Granjeno for the year.  Couldn't find anything in the "entrance grove", and my heart sank when I saw all the cars near the boat ramp thinking the place was gonna be inundated with weekend revelers, but every vehicle there was law enforcement of some kind!  Needless to say I felt pretty safe...

   

Black Phoebe at the canal

Shortly after that I ran into Donna McCown who was aiming to shoot some bluebirds (on film ☺), so we chatted briefly before she headed to the bluebird area and I continued the "route".  The river was actually quite barren bird-wise; I finally found some Lesser Scaup closer to the dam, and some early Rough-winged Swallows.  When I swung around to the cross-street and ran into Donna again, she mentioned that Bob Becker had seen a Black-throated Gray Warbler earlier in the week, but didn't specify where exactly.  She suspected it was probably in the little wooded area right behind the dam, as that was a favorite spot of his, so I headed back over there and discovered a little trail that I didn't even know existed!  Butterbutts and Orangecrowns came in to pishing, but no BTGray, at least on the trail.  I started working the trees outside, and sure enough, a little chink warbler came in, and it was him!  Unfortunately he was moving too fast to get a shot (this is where manual focusing would come in handy), and then he himself shot back into the "Dam Woods"!  I found Donna again and thanked her for the tip, so she headed over there and managed to get a magnificent shot of the little bugger!  (She also got her bluebirds... ☺)  I headed over the maintenance area to try and get those House Finches (note to those who can't figure out why in the world House Finches would be a target bird:  they're considered accidental here in the Valley, and this is one of the few places that has a reliable population).  The little beasties came through, and even a little male posed for a shot!  A delightful little female Vermilion Flycatcher was in the same area.

Female Vermilion Flycatcher

House Finch, considered accidental in the Valley, but a colony has been established at Anzalduas for some time.

"Diggory" guarding the picnic area where the finches hang out.

It was time to try for the owl, so headed over to Granjeno and up the road to the levee (according to Google Maps, that little drive is actually a continuation of Sharyland Road).  Started scouring the rock pile on the other side of the levee and started to sweat a little when I couldn't find him immediately!  A Border Patrol guy came by and I told him what I was doing, and he said he hadn't seen them, either, but he'd be nearby if I needed him - how sweet!  I needed to turn around, so I went down the other side of the levee to do so (and scoured the rocks again from a little better angle light-wise).  Still couldn't find the bugger, but a rather ragamuffin Cattle Egret had been blending in pretty well himself!  I started to head back up when I noticed that one of the rocks looked rather soft, and bingo, there he was!  Apparently there were actually two hanging out, but I was thrilled to find the one!

 

 

Scroungy Cattle Egret

 

   

Burrowing Owl (showing eyelids at right)

 

Called it a day after that with a nice moderate 66 species for the day.  Bird list:

 

  Gadwall                               Anas strepera

  Ring-necked Duck                      Aythya collaris

  Lesser Scaup                          Aythya affinis

  Plain Chachalaca                      Ortalis vetula

  Double-crested Cormorant              Phalacrocorax auritus

  Cattle Egret                          Bubulcus ibis

  Turkey Vulture                        Cathartes aura

  Osprey                                Pandion haliaetus

  Cooper's Hawk                         Accipiter cooperii

  Red-shouldered Hawk                   Buteo lineatus

  Gray Hawk                             Buteo plagiatus

  Sora                                  Porzana carolina

  American Coot                         Fulica americana

  Killdeer                              Charadrius vociferus

  Spotted Sandpiper                     Actitis macularius

  Rock Pigeon                           Columba livia

  Mourning Dove                         Zenaida macroura

  Inca Dove                             Columbina inca

  White-tipped Dove                     Leptotila verreauxi

  Great Horned Owl                      Bubo virginianus

  Burrowing Owl                         Athene cunicularia

  Ringed Kingfisher                     Megaceryle torquata

  Belted Kingfisher                     Megaceryle alcyon

  Green Kingfisher                      Chloroceryle americana

  Golden-fronted Woodpecker             Melanerpes aurifrons

  Ladder-backed Woodpecker              Picoides scalaris

  Crested Caracara                      Caracara cheriway

  American Kestrel                      Falco sparverius

  Northern Beardless-Tyrannulet         Camptostoma imberbe

  Black Phoebe                          Sayornis nigricans

  Eastern Phoebe                        Sayornis phoebe

  Vermilion Flycatcher                  Pyrocephalus rubinus

  Great Kiskadee                        Pitangus sulphuratus

  Tropical Kingbird                     Tyrannus melancholicus

  Loggerhead Shrike                     Lanius ludovicianus

  Green Jay                             Cyanocorax yncas

  Northern Rough-winged Swallow         Stelgidopteryx serripennis

  Cave Swallow                          Petrochelidon fulva

  Black-crested Titmouse                Baeolophus atricristatus

  Verdin                                Auriparus flaviceps

  House Wren                            Troglodytes aedon

  Carolina Wren                         Thryothorus ludovicianus

  Blue-gray Gnatcatcher                 Polioptila caerulea

  Ruby-crowned Kinglet                  Regulus calendula

  Eastern Bluebird                      Sialia sialis

  Clay-colored Thrush                   Turdus grayi

  Long-billed Thrasher                  Toxostoma longirostre

  Northern Mockingbird                  Mimus polyglottos

  European Starling                     Sturnus vulgaris

  American Pipit                        Anthus rubescens

  Orange-crowned Warbler                Oreothlypis celata

  Common Yellowthroat                   Geothlypis trichas

  Yellow-rumped Warbler                 Setophaga coronata

  Black-throated Gray Warbler           Setophaga nigrescens

  Olive Sparrow                         Arremonops rufivirgatus

  Lark Sparrow                          Chondestes grammacus

  Lincoln's Sparrow                     Melospiza lincolnii

  Northern Cardinal                     Cardinalis cardinalis

  Red-winged Blackbird                  Agelaius phoeniceus

  Western Meadowlark                    Sturnella neglecta

  Great-tailed Grackle                  Quiscalus mexicanus

  Altamira Oriole                       Icterus gularis

  House Finch                           Haemorhous mexicanus

  Lesser Goldfinch                      Spinus psaltria

  American Goldfinch                    Spinus tristis

  House Sparrow                         Passer domesticus

 

66 SPECIES

 

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