Photo Gallery - 2015 Field Trips

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All photographs ©2015 by Mary Beth Stowe


May 28, 2015 - La Sal del Rey



Pat Heirs, Mary Jane Syvertsen, and I headed up to the La Sal area in hopes of bagging Pat a Botteri's Sparrow for Hidalgo County (the earliest I've had them there is June, but since they're back in the Valley, I figured we'd give it a shot...)  I start the route along Brushline heading north from SR 186, and as per usual the Common Nighthawks were batting around and beenting, and Valley regulars such as Couch's Kingbirds and Olive Sparrows were competing with the Mockingbirds!  Several Roadrunners were cooing, and one even flew ahead of us on the road!  MJ caught sight of something that could have been a Bobcat crossing the road, but as I was shooting the Roadrunner a White-tailed Deer stepped out into view!



Roadrunner along Brushline Road (I thought the bushy crest and "X"-shaped foot was cute...)


White-tailed Deer joins the Roadrunner


What struck all of us was how much water there was around!  The woodlands were basically swamplands, even though we really didn't log any water birds to speak of until we got up to the north end of Brushline.  I was hearing a fast chatter that sounded almost like a Baltimore Oriole to me, but we saw several Bullock's (enough that I had to lower my total for EBird ☺), so that's undoubtedly what it was.  Caracaras were in good numbers, and we had a great look at a White-tailed Hawk sitting in front of the car, and even got to hear his call when he voiced his annoyance at the Mockingbird bombing him!


Swampy area along Brushline


MJ and Pat check out the hedges...


We had seen the EBird report of a Ferruginous Pygmy Owl in the area, so I tooted in a couple of places, but nothing responded except thrashers and flycatchers.  We had a great look at a Harris' Hawk being bullied by a Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, and I was the only one to log Blue Grosbeak during a potty stop...  We went down the northbound dead end road to see if the Botteri's had come in yet, but apparently not, as we didn't hear anything.  But at the end of the road a juvenile Black-throated Sparrow jumped around on the gate and just put on a great show!  On the way out one of many Painted Buntings sang on a wire; this one just happened to be in great light! 


Juvie Black-throated Sparrow



Painted Bunting


Continuing east on Brushline a Common Ground Dove was pacing us right in front of the car, and at another stop we heard a distant Cassin's Sparrow for the day.  The girls were sharing stories of birds encountered on past trips where the road turns north (the Emu and the young Great Horned Owl come to mind), but before long it was apparent that we were going to be stopped by a lake in the road!  (Personally, I think the road was solid enough underneath that we could have made it, but I remember what happened the last time I had a cocky "This is a Subaru - he can do anything!" moment...)  As we were pondering the situation a cute-faced Ani showed up by the side of the road then hopped across!  (Pat shared how banders hate banding them because they apparently have quite a foul odor..)  But the wetland that had dried up years ago and started reverting back to thornscrub was now a wetland again, with lily pads yet!  I was telling the girls that this is where the Purple Gallinules showed up several years ago (back when it was wet), when I thought I was hearing the single tenor tuck call of said gallinule!  But I know how the imagination can play tricks on you, so we waited until I heard a vocalization I felt sure about, and thankfully the bird sounded off with its distinctive tk-tk-tk-tk-EEK! EEK! call a couple of times!  They were way back in the "stuff", so we never got a visual, but by a miracle I was able to get a "documentation recording" as the wind was gusting through pretty well by then (and they weren't all that close, either).  In the meantime MJ spotted a Least Grebe, and they sounded off a couple of times for good measure!  One of the girls spotted a beautiful Hooded Oriole on the wire, and on the way out we had a huge Indigo Snake crossing the road!


Horrible recording of the Purple Gallinule clucking (looped once) - just enough to prove it!


Where we turned around...


Just for grins, this is what happened the last time I had a cocky "This-is-a-Subaru-he-can-do-anything" moment...


Back end of an Indigo Snake


Backtracking to Ken Baker (aka GI) Road, we had several Dickcissels singing in an open scrubland (I was pleased to see them in something besides ag fields)!  The place was alive with sunflowers, especially out in the "Barren Field" - it certainly wasn't barren today!  A Swainson's Hawk sailed around, but it was starting to warm up pretty well, so I started looking for shady spots to park and listen!  Before long both girls were opting to stay in the car while I did the 2-minute thing; at one point I did spot a new trip bird and told the girls, but didn't have the heart to tell them it was a Starling until they had already scrambled out to see it (and it was gone by then, of course ☺)!



Female Dickcissels


Scissor-tailed Flycatcher


Sunflower field


I decided to forego stopping along Rio Beef as it was after 11:00 (and over 90 degrees out), so we went straight to the little marsh near the south end and picked up Yellowthroat and Green Heron for the day.  Not counting the Cattle Egrets we had on way home we logged 57 species for the morning.


Bird List:


  Mottled Duck                          Anas fulvigula

  Northern Bobwhite                     Colinus virginianus

  Least Grebe                           Tachybaptus dominicus

  Great Egret                           Ardea alba

  Snowy Egret                           Egretta thula

  Green Heron                           Butorides virescens

  Turkey Vulture                        Cathartes aura

  Harris's Hawk                         Parabuteo unicinctus

  White-tailed Hawk                     Geranoaetus albicaudatus

  Swainson's Hawk                       Buteo swainsoni

  Purple Gallinule                      Porphyrio martinicus

  Killdeer                              Charadrius vociferus

  Eurasian Collared-Dove                Streptopelia decaocto

  White-winged Dove                     Zenaida asiatica

  Mourning Dove                         Zenaida macroura

  Inca Dove                             Columbina inca

  Common Ground-Dove                    Columbina passerina

  White-tipped Dove                     Leptotila verreauxi

  Yellow-billed Cuckoo                  Coccyzus americanus

  Greater Roadrunner                    Geococcyx californianus

  Groove-billed Ani                     Crotophaga sulcirostris

  Common Nighthawk                      Chordeiles minor

  Golden-fronted Woodpecker             Melanerpes aurifrons

  Ladder-backed Woodpecker              Picoides scalaris

  Crested Caracara                      Caracara cheriway

  Brown-crested Flycatcher              Myiarchus tyrannulus

  Great Kiskadee                        Pitangus sulphuratus

  Couch's Kingbird                      Tyrannus couchii

  Scissor-tailed Flycatcher             Tyrannus forficatus

  Green Jay                             Cyanocorax yncas

  Horned Lark                           Eremophila alpestris

  Black-crested Titmouse                Baeolophus atricristatus

  Verdin                                Auriparus flaviceps

  Bewick's Wren                         Thryomanes bewickii

  Cactus Wren                           Campylorhynchus brunneicapillus

  Curve-billed Thrasher                 Toxostoma curvirostre

  Long-billed Thrasher                  Toxostoma longirostre

  Northern Mockingbird                  Mimus polyglottos

  European Starling                     Sturnus vulgaris

  Common Yellowthroat                   Geothlypis trichas

  Olive Sparrow                         Arremonops rufivirgatus

  Cassin's Sparrow                      Peucaea cassinii

  Lark Sparrow                          Chondestes grammacus

  Black-throated Sparrow                Amphispiza bilineata

  Northern Cardinal                     Cardinalis cardinalis

  Pyrrhuloxia                           Cardinalis sinuatus

  Blue Grosbeak                         Passerina caerulea

  Painted Bunting                       Passerina ciris

  Dickcissel                            Spiza americana

  Red-winged Blackbird                  Agelaius phoeniceus

  Eastern Meadowlark                    Sturnella magna

  Great-tailed Grackle                  Quiscalus mexicanus

  Bronzed Cowbird                       Molothrus aeneus

  Brown-headed Cowbird                  Molothrus ater

  Hooded Oriole                         Icterus cucullatus

  Bullock's Oriole                      Icterus bullockii

  House Sparrow                         Passer domesticus




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