Photo Gallery - 2015 Field Trips

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All photographs ©2015 by Mary Beth Stowe

 

May 15, 2015 - San Benito Area

 

I've been trying to get out to the San Benito Wetlands for months, to try a new birding area that would include said wetlands, Monte Meta Cemetery, and an area in Rio Hondo I heard was now open to the public.  Since I had only been to the wetlands once and with a group (and you never pay attention to directions when you're with a group ☺), I was going by the seat of my pants, following some directions I found on Google that implied that the wildlife viewing area was adjacent to the water treatment plant.  So once on the 77 south, I took the Williams Road exit, and looked to make a left turn on Mayfield, only I found it quite by accident by turning left on Lozano, which turned into Mayfield, and the wetlands were there on the right!  The habitat going further looked interesting, though, so I followed the road until it came to FM 509, where I started getting out and listening periodically.  The area was a little seedy, so I was on my toes, but had some nice birds including a female Ringed Kingfisher that posed on a wire, and a Roseate Spoonbill that flew overhead!  Some Bobwhites were sitting quietly outside the water treatment plant itself, and down the road were some grasslands where Dickcissels and Eastern Meadowlarks were singing.

 

Female Ringed Kingfisher

 

Bobwhite pair (male left, female right)

 

There was an open gate next to the wetlands, so I drove down as far as I could next to a little shack that was all fenced off (the sign said it was an animal shelter - ???), but I wasn't sure if I was in a "public" area or not, so I went back to Mayfield and parked on the grass next to the dilapidated shelter, only discovered that the whole of the wetlands was fenced off!  (I remember us parking and walking right in before...)  So I went back through the gate and just pulled over to hike the dikes over, only shortly I discovered that you couldn't get over that way, either - the whole area was fenced off!  So from my vantage point I managed to add some Green Herons, a Great Blue, and a Great Egret (a Snowy had flown by earlier), but that was it for the wetland birds (and I frankly didn't wanna hang around there any longer, anyway).

 

San Benito Wetlands

 

Next stop was Monte Meta Cemetery, which you could get to by cutting over to SR 345 on Castillo Road.  That place was a little more birdy, with tons of White-winged Doves and fewer numbers of other Valley birds like Golden-fronted Woodpeckers, Brown-crested Flycatchers, and Kiskadees.  My first "stop" hit pay dirt with a singing Canada Warbler, but that was it for the migrants.  There's some nice thornscrub habitat near the back of the property that had a singing Olive Sparrow and tittering Tropical Kingbird, but the stars were a Caracara family with an adult and two squawking juveniles!  A little dirt road went back into the habitat, and had both Carolina and Bewick's Wren back there, along with tons of Mockingbirds.  A Fulvous Whistling Duck flew over at one point, and a Yellow-billed Cuckoo sounded off while I was trying to lure out any potential migrants from the oaks (just got a couple of Lesser Goldfinches excited).

 

Monte Meta Cemetery

 

   

Adult Crested Caracara

 

   

One of the kids...

 

Gotta love that "do"!

 

I remembered Lantana Lake being productive when our Birder Patrol group went there years ago, but today it was empty, so I jotted down the Black-necked Stilt pair and headed on to Rio Hondo.  Found the cemetery and the road to this luscious woodland area near the arroyo, but it was gated off with "No Trespassing" signs!  (It belongs to the "Smash" model airplane club...)  So I jotted down the White-tipped Dove I heard in the cemetery and let it go at that; on the way out, I swore I heard an Upland Sandpiper in this mowed field guarded by a group of vultures, but after listening awhile (and not being able to see anything there) I concluded it must have been a Brown-crested Flycatcher, as they can make a similar diddily-do call...  Later I found out that apparently "birding groups" have permission to go down there, but maybe one person would have been questionable...

 

It was really way too early to call it quits, but I was concerned about the sudden change in the weather forecast (yesterday they called for "PM Thunderstorms", and this morning it morphed into "thunderstorms starting at 9:30"), but it had yet to materialize, so decided to check out Hugh Ramsey Park as a Mourning Warbler had been seen there.  The minute I pulled in and started on the trail, however, it started to drip pretty good, so I headed back to the car, only to have it let up, so started out again, only this time it started dripping and thundering!  So not really wanting to get caught in it, I threw in the towel, stopped at the Stripes for a potty break (and a Barbacoa Taco Comfort Food Item, along with a package of those mini powdered donuts... ☺), and headed back home.  After showering and washing the dishes, Pat Heirs called me reporting a mini-fallout in her yard, which included Mourning Warbler and Yellow-bellied Flycatcher!  I was tempted to run down to Quinta Mazatlan or some such place, but I was really too tired, and after  inputting the data, processing the pictures, and taking a nap ☺, I got back on here to discover they had issued a tornado warning for Hidalgo County!!  Now honestly, I almost did get dressed to go chase after that one! ☺

 

(Whups - radar now shows a big'un coming our way from the south...)

 

Meager Bird List (the Pauraque was singing outside my apartment this morning...):

 

  Black-bellied Whistling-Duck          Dendrocygna autumnalis

  Fulvous Whistling-Duck                Dendrocygna bicolor

  Northern Bobwhite                     Colinus virginianus

  Great Blue Heron                      Ardea herodias

  Great Egret                           Ardea alba

  Snowy Egret                           Egretta thula

  Cattle Egret                          Bubulcus ibis

  Green Heron                           Butorides virescens

  Roseate Spoonbill                     Platalea ajaja

  Black Vulture                         Coragyps atratus

  Turkey Vulture                        Cathartes aura

  Black-necked Stilt                    Himantopus mexicanus

  Laughing Gull                         Leucophaeus atricilla

  Rock Pigeon                           Columba livia

  Eurasian Collared-Dove                Streptopelia decaocto

  White-winged Dove                     Zenaida asiatica

  Mourning Dove                         Zenaida macroura

  White-tipped Dove                     Leptotila verreauxi

  Yellow-billed Cuckoo                  Coccyzus americanus

  Common Nighthawk                      Chordeiles minor

  Common Pauraque                       Nyctidromus albicollis

  Chimney Swift                         Chaetura pelagica

  Buff-bellied Hummingbird              Amazilia yucatanensis

  Ringed Kingfisher                     Megaceryle torquata

  Golden-fronted Woodpecker             Melanerpes aurifrons

  Ladder-backed Woodpecker              Picoides scalaris

  Crested Caracara                      Caracara cheriway

  Brown-crested Flycatcher              Myiarchus tyrannulus

  Great Kiskadee                        Pitangus sulphuratus

  Tropical Kingbird                     Tyrannus melancholicus

  Couch's Kingbird                      Tyrannus couchii

  Scissor-tailed Flycatcher             Tyrannus forficatus

  Loggerhead Shrike                     Lanius ludovicianus

  White-eyed Vireo                      Vireo griseus

  Barn Swallow                          Hirundo rustica

  Black-crested Titmouse                Baeolophus atricristatus

  Carolina Wren                         Thryothorus ludovicianus

  Bewick's Wren                         Thryomanes bewickii

  Curve-billed Thrasher                 Toxostoma curvirostre

  Northern Mockingbird                  Mimus polyglottos

  European Starling                     Sturnus vulgaris

  Common Yellowthroat                   Geothlypis trichas

  Canada Warbler                        Cardellina canadensis

  Olive Sparrow                         Arremonops rufivirgatus

  Lark Sparrow                          Chondestes grammacus

  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

  Lesser Goldfinch                      Spinus psaltria

  House Sparrow                         Passer domesticus

 

53 SPECIES

 

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