Photo Gallery - 2015 Field Trips
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May 21, 2015 - Resaca de la Palma SP
The timing was great, as I arrived at the park just a few minutes before dawn, and the chorus was quite deafening! But after I got all my gear together I heard something in the din that I wrote off as a Botteri's Sparrow at first, but the fact that it really wasn't Botteri's habitat bothered me (and there were so many Olive Sparrows singing, I couldn't tell if it was finishing its song with the "bouncing ball" flurry or if I was just hearing the Olives). And on top of that, the timbre didn't sound quite right: the song was delivered in short, clipped phrases, more like a vireo, but I was trying to think what kind of a vireo would match that, and then it clicked: a Yellow-green! Unfortunately he wouldn't come out for a look-see (he was deep in one of the big trees), but thankfully I was able to get a barely identifiable recording (was tough with all the competition going on)! I sent a text message to the Texas RBA Group and went on my way.
Dawn chorus at the parking area: the bouncing ball song of Olive Sparrows is dominant, along with both a Cardinal and a Carolina Wren, White-winged Doves, and a softer "coke bottle" White-tipped. Not as obvious but still audible are Great-tailed Grackles, a Mockingbird, and the Yellow-green Vireo. The interesting clucking noise near the end is a Groove-billed Ani - a vocalization I've never heard before!
A highly-scrubbed recording of the Yellow-green Vireo; listen for the clipped phrases in competition with the sparrows and mockingbirds...
Right-of-way just outside the main entrance; the vireo was singing from the tree on the left.
Started the big hike from there, with the first resting spot at the point where the main road crosses the resaca. Yellow-billed Cuckoos were all over, which made me think of Pat who was so desperate for one for Hidalgo County this year (although Resaca is in Cameron)! As my friend Phil would say, someone pushed the Chachalaca Button, and couples were spreading the Morning Report all over the park! ☺ A couple of Common Nighthawks batted around at the resaca (which was dry, which surprised me after all the rain), and the usual South Texas forest birds showed up one by one, like Brown-crested Flycatcher, Green Jay, and Long-billed Thrasher.
I should have used one of the signs as the next resting stop, as it was a lot longer than ten minutes to the next bench, which was the Kiskadee Trail. It's the same resaca that you see along the tram road, but there was a little bit of water here, with a pair of Black-bellied Whistling Ducks, a few Little Blue Herons, a Snowy Egret, and a bunch of young White Ibis! The other thing there that concerned me a little was a big mama hog and her piglets! I had heard they could be aggressive, but thankfully there's no way she could have charged me from where she was.
"Teenage" White Ibis hanging out at the watering hole...
Mama hog and her piglets...
Returning to the tram road, I took the Mexican Olive Trail down to that overlook and had some nice things: a family of four Yellow-crowned Night Herons was a highlight, along with a flyover Green Heron. One of the park's famous Mexican Bluewings landed on a tree but only showed its cryptic ventral side, and a Common Gallinule called while I was resting. I'd love to report that the "no-sting" kids' sunscreen actually did what it claimed to do, but I'm sorry to report that I went around with a sore eye (yes, the left one) the rest of the morning, although I confess it wasn't as bad as when the old sunscreen would get in there!
Three of the four Yellow-crowned Night Herons at the resaca (the fourth was an immature)
Brown-crested Flycatcher along the trail, showing his bushy topknot!
Heading down the tram road I was surprised to see the same resaca cross under there, as the White Ibis gang was now right next to the road! (So was one of the piglets, so I scurried on...) The next stop was a bench before you hit the Flycatcher Trail, I believe, and somewhere in here I added Clay-colored Thrush and Couch's Kingbird to the list. Turning the corner you start getting into savannah-type habitat, and while I didn't bag the White-tailed Kite that usually hangs out here, I did add a singing Eastern Meadowlark that was new for my Resaca list (and seeing I've only visited the park four times, including today, that wasn't a difficult accomplishment). An Altamira Oriole finally showed up with a big bug, and while resting on a sign a Dickcissel flew over.
Closer view of the White Ibis...
...and one of the piglets...
Another Yellow-billed Cuckoo flew in to where I was resting at the next stop, but that was just before the headquarters, and when the parking lot opened before me and I saw it was packed with cars, I thought, "Boy, news about that vireo got out fast!" ☺ It was actually some kind of continuing adult educational thing going on according to the ranger behind the desk, and I saw that Sherri Wilson had her hands full with several groups! I mentioned the Yellow-green Vireo in passing, and she nearly did a victory dance: turns out she thought she had one on the 5th (or thereabouts), but just wasn't sure! So I was happy to hear that it's been around awhile!
After bringing Diggory in, I started perusing the Ebony Trail and the butterfly gardens; Boisduval's Yellows were out the yin yang, and I may have had a Mexican Yellow as well, as there was a lot of black on the dorsal wingtips and the dorsal in general looked rather washed out. More Mexican Bluewings showed themselves, and a Fawn-spotted Skipper made an appearance as well. In the garden, had a nice Mimosa Skipper, a pretty Vesta Crescent, and good numbers of the common stuff (Cloudless, Dainty, and Lyside Sulphurs; Phaon Crescents; Tropical Checkered and Sickle-winged Skippers; and a single Giant Swallowtail).
Female Tropical Checkered Skipper
Boisduval's Yellow, one of the park's signature butterflies
These two Boisduval's are giving wings to the Turk's Cap!
I was really shot by then, and the skies looked a little more threatening, so decided to call it a day, spotting a Bobwhite on the way out. They announced on the radio that radar showed heavy rain was in Starr County heading into Hidalgo, but I think they read it wrong, as I hit the wall of water right at the Hidalgo/Cameron County line! ☺ I was so frazzled afterwards that I treated myself to a Pollo Loco (along with half of McAllen by the looks of the drive-thru ☺)!
Black-bellied Whistling-Duck Dendrocygna autumnalis
Plain Chachalaca Ortalis vetula
Northern Bobwhite Colinus virginianus
Great Blue Heron Ardea herodias
Great Egret Ardea alba
Snowy Egret Egretta thula
Little Blue Heron Egretta caerulea
Green Heron Butorides virescens
Yellow-crowned Night-Heron Nyctanassa violacea
White Ibis Eudocimus albus
Common Gallinule Gallinula galeata
Laughing Gull Leucophaeus atricilla
White-winged Dove Zenaida asiatica
Mourning Dove Zenaida macroura
Common Ground-Dove Columbina passerina
White-tipped Dove Leptotila verreauxi
Yellow-billed Cuckoo Coccyzus americanus
Groove-billed Ani Crotophaga sulcirostris
Common Nighthawk Chordeiles minor
Chimney Swift Chaetura pelagica
Buff-bellied Hummingbird Amazilia yucatanensis
Golden-fronted Woodpecker Melanerpes aurifrons
Ladder-backed Woodpecker Picoides scalaris
Brown-crested Flycatcher Myiarchus tyrannulus
Great Kiskadee Pitangus sulphuratus
Couch's Kingbird Tyrannus couchii
White-eyed Vireo Vireo griseus
Yellow-green Vireo Vireo flavoviridis
Green Jay Cyanocorax yncas
Black-crested Titmouse Baeolophus atricristatus
Verdin Auriparus flaviceps
Carolina Wren Thryothorus ludovicianus
Bewick's Wren Thryomanes bewickii
Clay-colored Thrush Turdus grayi
Long-billed Thrasher Toxostoma longirostre
Northern Mockingbird Mimus polyglottos
Olive Sparrow Arremonops rufivirgatus
Northern Cardinal Cardinalis cardinalis
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
Altamira Oriole Icterus gularis
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