phil jeffrey:: Texas, April 2015 trip report
(RGV = lower Rio Grande Valley)
Another thing to consider is the Birdcast forecasts which provides some weather-informed migrant forecasts but also provides links to regional "expected" dates for migrants. Very good for managing expectations.
For the purposes of year listing I set my BirdsEye app into year list mode which then lets me highlight species near me that I haven't seen yet. On this trip BirdsEye was a little more functional than it had been on other trips. There's no way to upload a "target" list without messing with your Year or Life list, which is one defect of this app.
In recent years I had flown to San Antonio and driven down to the Rio Grande Valley via a stop at Port Aransas. However recent car rentals from SAT were unsatisfactory, and I managed to exploit frequent flier miles/points for a HOU-HRL round trip flight (HRL = Valley International Airport at Harlingen). Downside is that I then don't get to visit Port Aransas as an intermediate stop-over. Upside is that I don't have to drive the best part of 3.5 hours from SAT to Harlingen - or far longer via Port Aransas - the HOU-HRL flight is one hour. SouthWest offer multiple flights per day between HOU and HRL.
Although there's always merit in birding early in the morning, for early feeding activity, it's worth bearing in mind the above timing and give yourself some time in the later afternoons to revisit sites. I saw an ongoing small drop-out at South Padre Island more or less at the time I had to leave for the airport.
Both shorebird and passerine migration was high volume toward the end of this trip (16th April) than the beginning of this trip (8th April) and this is not all that surprising - the UTC/South Padre migrant timing is going to be 2 weeks ahead of Central Park (peak May 5th-15th). Last two weeks in April is probably the best window for Texas.
Overnight: America's Best Value Inn, Winnie (recommended budget option).
Dawn showed up heavily overcast and murky. Cedar Waxwings were in the parking lot - the only ones for the trip. A Loggerhead Shrike was out front. I made it to High Island's Boy Scout Woods at 7:30am and discovered little to no migration. Most of the interesting birds were overflying herons or breeding birds, plus a few migrants that might well have been there for a few days:
Black-bellied Whistling-Duck Little Blue Heron Tricolored Heron Cattle Egret Green Heron Plegadis ibis sp. Black Vulture Sharp-shinned Hawk Sora (Heard) Laughing Gull Eurasian Collared-Dove Mourning Dove Archilochus Hummingbird sp. Belted Kingfisher White-eyed Vireo Purple Martin Barn Swallow Marsh Wren (Heard) Northern Mockingbird White-throated Sparrow Northern Cardinal large-tailed Grackle sp. Brown-headed CowbirdNote: for the purposes of this trip I've done a lot of eBird reports because I was exploiting the eBird county "Needs Alert" feature to track species that I hadn't seen yet. So
Species lists shown in this typeface/format are edited versions of eBird reports for the locationOne useful sighting was a Whimbrel fly-over - I saw very few of these early in the trip. The large-tailed Grackles appeared to all be Great-tailed (yellow-eyed). I crossed High Island to Smith Oaks to look at the rookery, reputed to contain many Neotropic Cormorants and Roseate Spoonbills. And so it did. White-eyed Vireo was about the only other bird of note in about 20 minutes birding there.
Neotropic Cormorant Great Egret Snowy Egret Roseate Spoonbill Common Gallinule Mourning Dove White-eyed Vireo Northern Mockingbird Northern Cardinal Boat-tailed/Great-tailed GrackleIn the face of weak neotropic migration I went straight to Rollover Pass in search of terns and shorebirds. There was a pretty good selection of terns - many Commons, a few Forsters, many Royals and one Caspian, many Least and quite a few Black Terns. Most of the Black Terns were still in basic, with some molting, and only one approaching full breeding plumage. Likewise - and some surprise here - many of the Common Terns still had not attained full breeding plumage. Shorebirds were mainly Willet, Marbled Godwit, Dunlin and Sanderling with a few other individuals. A few Savannah Sparrows but not much else in the passerine department. The British birders (Pete and Dave) I'd encountered at breakfast at the hotel were there already and pretty happy with the numerous birds scattered around the flats in front of them.
Black-bellied Whistling-Duck Gadwall Blue-winged Teal Red-breasted Merganser Neotropic Cormorant Double-crested Cormorant American White Pelican Brown Pelican Great Egret Snowy Egret Reddish Egret Cattle Egret American Avocet Black-bellied Plover Greater Yellowlegs Willet Marbled Godwit Ruddy Turnstone Sanderling Dunlin Long-billed Dowitcher Bonaparte's Gull Laughing Gull Herring Gull Least Tern Caspian Tern Common Tern Forster's Tern Royal Tern Sandwich Tern Black Skimmer Barn Swallow Northern Mockingbird Savannah Sparrow Red-winged Blackbird Boat-tailed/Great-tailed GrackleI then back-tracked to Anahuac NWR. En route I saw Eastern Kingbird, one of several I found in that general area on the wires. Loggerhead Shrikes were along the entrance road, and several shorebirds were in the flooded fields around the Shoveler Pond - most notable a few Pectorals and several Stilt Sandpipers. Dowitchers were abundant - Long-billed were more obvious but I punted on parsing Short-billed in mid-molt in that crowd and bad light. Fulvous Whistling-Ducks were easy to find. Marsh Wrens, while vocal, less cooperative in terms of giving visuals. I didn't see any passerines at the Willows. I got a Northern Rough-winged Swallow while exiting the refuge.
Black-bellied Whistling-Duck Fulvous Whistling-Duck Mottled Duck Blue-winged Teal Northern Shoveler Pied-billed Grebe Neotropic Cormorant Double-crested Cormorant Great Blue Heron Great Egret Snowy Egret Little Blue Heron Tricolored Heron Green Heron Yellow-crowned Night-Heron White Ibis White-faced Ibis Roseate Spoonbill Black Vulture Turkey Vulture Osprey Northern Harrier Common Gallinule American Coot Black-necked Stilt Black-bellied Plover Killdeer Solitary Sandpiper Willet Lesser Yellowlegs Stilt Sandpiper Pectoral Sandpiper Long-billed Dowitcher Laughing Gull Forster's Tern Mourning Dove Eastern Kingbird Loggerhead Shrike Northern Rough-winged Swallow Tree Swallow Barn Swallow Marsh Wren (Heard) Northern Mockingbird European Starling Yellow-rumped Warbler Savannah Sparrow Red-winged Blackbird Eastern Meadowlark Boat-tailed Grackle Great-tailed Grackle Brown-headed CowbirdAlong FM-1985 I saw the first Scissor-tailed Flycatcher of the day, and another one beyond Rollover Pass along the Bolivar peninsula. I headed to Bolivar Flats sanctuary where quite a few shorebirds were evident - several plovers (but no Snowy), Red Knot, a couple of Franklin's Gulls and a White-tailed Kite. Seemed to be no more shorebirds than Rollover but the species mix was different and the Red Knots were a decent find - the only ones for the trip.
Blue-winged Teal Neotropic Cormorant Brown Pelican Great Blue Heron Great Egret Reddish Egret White-tailed Kite Northern Harrier American Avocet Black-bellied Plover Wilson's Plover Semipalmated Plover Piping Plover Willet Marbled Godwit Ruddy Turnstone Red Knot Sanderling Dunlin Western Sandpiper Semipalmated/Western Sandpiper - looked like Semis Short-billed/Long-billed Dowitcher Laughing Gull Franklin's Gull Herring Gull Least Tern Gull-billed Tern Caspian Tern Royal TernReturning to High Island I had Gray Catbird and male Orchard Oriole singles to add to the list. Another pass around Anahuac NWR late in the day added White-tailed Kite, Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, Common Yellowthroat, Least Sandpiper and Wilson's Snipe and otherwise the same species list as earlier in the day. 20 White-crowned Sparrows were at the entrance gate (adults and immatures) on the way in, but not present on the way out the preserve. These were my only ones for the trip (generally weak on sparrow numbers).
Overnight: America's Best Value Inn, Winnie
Black-bellied Whistling-Duck Tricolored Heron Black Vulture Turkey Vulture White-tailed Kite Laughing Gull Inca Dove White-winged Dove Belted Kingfisher Eastern Kingbird White-eyed Vireo Blue Jay Northern Rough-winged Swallow Purple Martin Tree Swallow Barn Swallow Marsh Wren Carolina Wren Ruby-crowned Kinglet Gray Catbird Brown Thrasher Northern Mockingbird European Starling Yellow-rumped Warbler Northern Cardinal Painted Bunting Red-winged Blackbird Common Grackle Boat-tailed/Great-tailed Grackle Brown-headed CowbirdAfter saying goodbye to the British birders I headed to Rollover Pass and saw fewer numbers compared to the previous day but with a different mix: Piping and Semipalmated Plovers were numerous, with a few Wilson's, some Short-billed Dowitchers, two American Oystercatchers. Otherwise a rather similar set of species including the ongoing strong showing by Black Terns.
Black-bellied Whistling-Duck Neotropic Cormorant American White Pelican Brown Pelican Great Egret Reddish Egret American Avocet Black-bellied Plover Wilson's Plover Semipalmated Plover Piping Plover Willet Marbled Godwit Sanderling Dunlin Short-billed Dowitcher Laughing Gull Least Tern Black Tern Common Tern Royal Tern Sandwich Tern Black Skimmer Barn Swallow Great-tailed GrackleGiven the time limitations and the presence of storms I headed south along the peninsula toward Bolivar Flats, but since I reached Retillon Road at the same time as a rain storm I continued straight on to the (free) ferry with a minimal wait for the next departure. The usual melee of Laughing Gulls behind the ferry, a few Herring Gulls, Royal and two Caspian Terns and a couple of Forster's, Brown Pelican, otherwise nothing significant. Rain followed me to Galveston or rather I traveled further into the storm system - I was waiting out the rain at Offat's Bayou when the weather radar revealed that there wasn't going to be any clearing in the forseeable future, and there weren't any loons to be seen anyway in the gaps when the rain lightened up a little. I went on to Lafitte's Cove and attempted to find passerines in the rain - Hummingbird sp., Blue-winged Teal, Pied-billed Grebe, Black-bellied Whistling Ducks were on or over the pond. After that I returned the car, slipping transmission and all, to Houston Hobby where it was at least mostly dry and the plane was on time for the short HOU-HRL leg.
Southwest managed to actually be a little early on this short flight down to HRL. HRL is a nice little airport without a ton of facilities but it is modern and clean and makes me want to use it again on future trips. Baggage claim was fast, and National rented me a car in the short intervening time while I was waiting for the bag. A walk to the lot to pick out the car, much like the Midland-Odessa airport setup. This gave me enough time to sprint down to Brownsville and Oliveira Park to find Red-crowned Parrots - they had apparently just started to arrive and roost in the trees near the ball courts according to birders I met there. Nothing quiet about a Red-crowned Parrot roost and I heard them before I even parked the car. After that it was a little chug across Brownsville and then to South Padre Island where I stayed at the Super 8 there. This was a decent non-luxury hotel that was fairly busy with families on this Friday night but wasn't all that noisy later in the evening. I opted to stay there again the following week. There's a fridge and microwave in the rooms, something you won't find at the Motel 6 nearby which advertized a higher price.
Western Kingbird Scissor-tailed Flycatcher Barn Swallow Louisiana Waterthrush Black-and-white Warbler Orange-crowned Warbler Great-tailed GrackleThen onto the Convention Center where there was some activity - as became obvious once I found a female Hooded Warbler and a male Prothonotary in Mangroves at the end of the original boardwalk plus White-eyed Vireo. Many of the warblers showed great interest in the flowering bottle brush trees in the planting area that Scarlet Colley et al have been instrumental in creating and maintaining - Tennessee and Prothonotary in particular having a sweet tooth. I was only hearing the Sedge Wrens in the marsh edges but had a little more success finding Marsh Wren - I only saw a small proportion of the ones I heard on this trip. The ponds along the old section of boardwalk held a good mix of shorebirds and herons and I was lucky enough to see Clapper Rail in two locations, plus a Sora near Convention Center. The ponds also held my only certain Black-crowned Night-Herons for the trip. The older Convention Center boardwalk is now entirely separate from the Birding/BS center boardwalk and I completely avoided the latter. AFAIK the WBC center has done nothing in terms of adding plantings for migrants to use at the new center so it holds little interest for me. It's not one of the better eco-tourism examples.
Black-bellied Whistling-Duck Mottled Duck Blue-winged Teal Redhead Brown Pelican Great Blue Heron Reddish Egret Black-crowned Night-Heron Yellow-crowned Night-Heron Roseate Spoonbill Clapper Rail Sora Black-necked Stilt Black-bellied Plover Solitary Sandpiper Greater Yellowlegs Willet Lesser Yellowlegs Stilt Sandpiper Dunlin Pectoral Sandpiper Laughing Gull Franklin's Gull Ring-billed Gull Least Tern Gull-billed Tern Royal Tern Sandwich Tern Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon) Eurasian Collared-Dove Ruby-throated Hummingbird Buff-bellied Hummingbird Great Kiskadee Scissor-tailed Flycatcher White-eyed Vireo Barn Swallow Sedge Wren Marsh Wren Northern Mockingbird Blue-winged Warbler Prothonotary Warbler Tennessee Warbler Common Yellowthroat Hooded Warbler Northern Parula Black-throated Green Warbler Savannah Sparrow Lincoln's Sparrow Indigo Bunting Red-winged Blackbird Great-tailed Grackle Orchard Oriole Baltimore OrioleBack at Valley Fund lots, things had picked up somewhat with some different species, although the Louisiana was still present in the same pool.
Laughing Gull Inca Dove White-tipped Dove Barn Swallow Louisiana Waterthrush Tennessee Warbler Nashville Warbler Common Yellowthroat Hooded Warbler Northern Parula Indigo Bunting Hooded OrioleI finally exited SPI around lunch time. The route to Laguna Atascosa NWR from Laguna Vista went through productive habitat for raptors, netting Swainson's, Harris's and White-tailed Hawks in short order. That road is still littered with pot-holes so you need to keep an eye on the road surface. Several Lark Sparrows were on the wires. A probable Cactus Wren jetted across the road. South of the visitor center at the NWR entrance road all sorts of typical valley birds were present: Olive Sparrow, Long-billed Thrasher, Plain Chachalaca, Greater Roadrunner, Golden-fronted Woodpecker, a second Harris's Hawk. The visitor center and feeders had expected species including the Ladder-backed Woodpecker that's far outnumbered regionally by Golden-fronted. Several Couch's Kingbirds were on the wires around here, something I was clued into when they started calling. These weren't even year birds, given the one in the West Village (NYC) in Dec-Jan.
Harris's Hawk White-tipped Dove Greater Roadrunner Golden-fronted Woodpecker Ladder-backed Woodpecker Great Kiskadee Western Kingbird Scissor-tailed Flycatcher Black-crested Titmouse Long-billed Thrasher Olive Sparrow Lark Sparrow Red-winged Blackbird Eastern Meadowlark Great-tailed Grackle Bronzed Cowbird Brown-headed CowbirdOn the way out near Laguna Vista I saw two Northern Bobwhite on the road - that's a bird now in very low numbers in NJ and I don't see enough of them. At the Buena Vista Rd intersection with TX100 a single Aplomado Falcon was about 0.5 miles to the east but since I wasn't sure if I was near a nest I didn't linger once I had decent scope views. You certainly would never want to take the "short cut" down Buena Vista Rd itself since it looked rough and rutted and likely a complete quagmire given the wet conditions. The idea of driving down the Old Port Isabel Road didn't cross my mind since that is famously horrendous once it gets wet. So from the Aplomado site it was due west on TX-100 toward San Benito.
By now Saturday afternoon with no compelling destinations I decided to make a visit to Quinta Mazatlan in McAllen - nominally part of the WBC complex but since it's closed 2 days out of the week I never get around to going there. It was relatively quiet (bird-wise) in the afternoon although the Chachalacas were "singing" away and I had my first chittering Chimney Swifts above me. I had first of year/trip House Wren and Curve-billed Thrasher here. The other bird of note was a Tropical Kingbird which while silent had a different bill structure to the Couch's that I had seen near Laguna Atascosa and whose habitat was much more classical Tropical (golf courses etc). I'm assuming it was Tropical but a purist might doubt the definitive ID since refused to call. I had other possible Tropicals on the trip but lacked the motivation to wait for vocalization.
Black-bellied Whistling-Duck Plain Chachalaca Great Egret Swainson's Hawk Inca Dove White-tipped Dove White-winged Dove Mourning Dove Chimney Swift Golden-fronted Woodpecker Tropical Kingbird Scissor-tailed Flycatcher swallow sp. House Wren Curve-billed Thrasher Red-winged Blackbird Great-tailed Grackle House SparrowA late day visit to Estero LLano Grande SP didn't have all that much, either in the walk around the tropical area (Blue-winged Warbler) or on the resaca. Decent number of shorebirds in the far corner of the resaca from the viewing deck. But I did not detect any Pauraques in the drier areas and Alligator Pond was devoid of the heron/cormorant mix that lingers there in winter. A lucky find was a Green Kingfisher that turned up briefly as I was almost back at the visitor center. I recall those years when I used to regard Green Kingfisher as my nemesis bird - resisting all my attempts to find them - and now I'm casually finding them in the RGV (I had two on this trip).
Black-bellied Whistling-Duck Blue-winged Teal Cinnamon Teal Northern Shoveler Green-winged Teal Greater/Lesser Scaup Snowy Egret White-faced Ibis Roseate Spoonbill Turkey Vulture Cooper's Hawk Swainson's Hawk American Coot Black-necked Stilt American Avocet Killdeer Solitary Sandpiper Stilt Sandpiper Long-billed Dowitcher Short-billed/Long-billed Dowitcher shorebird sp. (Stilt? + Least?) Laughing Gull Franklin's Gull Common Ground-Dove White-winged Dove Mourning Dove Chimney Swift Ruby-throated Hummingbird Ruby-throated/Black-chinned Hummingbird Green Kingfisher Golden-fronted Woodpecker Great Kiskadee Tropical/Couch's Kingbird Scissor-tailed Flycatcher Tree Swallow Black-crested Titmouse Carolina Wren Long-billed Thrasher European Starling Blue-winged Warbler Common Yellowthroat Olive Sparrow Great-tailed GrackleI stayed the next two nights at a Studio 6 in Mission - an extended stay version of Motel 6 with better facilities at not too much of a premium. The Studio 6 is fine and would be an option for future trips, although perhaps not as good as the place in Winnie. Free breakfast and free WiFi are assets over the usual Motel 6 options but most of the guests here are probably staying for more than two nights. A strong line of storms overnight passed through the region that evening, spawning flash-flood warnings in a few counties - in fact this was the wettest RGV trip I've ever had, by quite some margin although I'm not begrudging this often dry area some rain.
Started with a brief and uneventful visit to the Bentsen Rio Grande State Park visitor center, where Black Phoebe and Cave Swallows were the most notable finds:
Plain Chachalaca Inca Dove White-winged Dove Mourning Dove Golden-fronted Woodpecker Black Phoebe Couch's Kingbird Cave Swallow Great-tailed Grackle Bronzed Cowbird House SparrowI started serious birding at the nearby Anzalduas County Park. The best birds were a singing male Tropical Parula (prev. reported), a Brown-crested Flycatcher, and a male Bullock's Oriole. A Northern Beardless-Tyrannulet was singing in the park as well - this seems to be moderately regular here. Got a couple of pictures of the Tropical but the light was pretty dire. The Brown-crested was vocal enough to allow easy separation from Great Crested but the former are really a lot more similar to Ash-throated in terms of confusability.
Black-bellied Whistling-Duck Blue-winged Teal Pied-billed Grebe Osprey American Coot Killdeer Inca Dove Golden-fronted Woodpecker Ladder-backed Woodpecker Northern Beardless-Tyrannulet Black Phoebe Brown-crested Flycatcher Great Kiskadee Couch's Kingbird swallow sp. Northern Mockingbird Black-and-white Warbler Tennessee Warbler Nashville Warbler Tropical Parula Great-tailed Grackle Bronzed Cowbird Bullock's Oriole oriole sp. (Hooded/Altamira) House Sparrow
Black-bellied Whistling-Duck Plain Chachalaca Turkey Vulture Mississippi Kite Broad-winged Hawk Laughing Gull Forster's Tern Eurasian Collared-Dove Inca Dove White-tipped Dove White-winged Dove Mourning Dove Ruby-throated Hummingbird Buff-bellied Hummingbird Golden-fronted Woodpecker Ladder-backed Woodpecker falcon sp. Northern Beardless-Tyrannulet Brown-crested Flycatcher Great Kiskadee Couch's Kingbird Scissor-tailed Flycatcher Green Jay Cave Swallow Black-crested Titmouse House Wren Clay-colored Thrush Long-billed Thrasher Northern Mockingbird Olive Sparrow Northern Cardinal Red-winged Blackbird Great-tailed Grackle Bronzed Cowbird Altamira OrioleInteresting sighting at the levee was a large snake that was tentatively ID'd by phone my the park naturalist as a Diamondback Water Snake. Given that it's similar in appearance to a Water Moccasin/Cottonmouth I'm not certain.
My achilles was especially sore after the hike around Bentsen SP so I skipped doing more hiking at Santa Ana NWR and headed to the coast, thinking that I'd check out the migration at South Padre that was so good the previous day. In Central Park migrants can linger for subsequent days, but on SPI it seems that many things had moved on. The Valley Land Fund lots were very quiet, with a single female Hooded Warbler. The Convention Center was a little better. Northern Parula, Summer Tanager, Baltimore Oriole and Sora were around the Convention Center. American Golden-Plover was amongst other shorebirds on the flats. Herons and Terns were much reduced, perhaps because of a lot of human presence on the beach with fishing and wind-surfing.
Black-bellied Whistling-Duck Mottled Duck Blue-winged Teal Redhead Neotropic Cormorant Great Blue Heron Snowy Egret Reddish Egret Osprey Clapper Rail Sora Black-necked Stilt Black-bellied Plover American Golden-Plover Wilson's Plover Willet Lesser Yellowlegs Marbled Godwit Ruddy Turnstone Dunlin Short-billed/Long-billed Dowitcher Laughing Gull Ring-billed Gull Caspian Tern Royal Tern Sandwich Tern Black Skimmer Eurasian Collared-Dove White-tipped Dove Ruby-throated Hummingbird White-eyed Vireo swallow sp. Marsh Wren Black-and-white Warbler Common Yellowthroat Northern Parula Summer Tanager Indigo Bunting Red-winged Blackbird Great-tailed Grackle Baltimore Oriole House Sparrow
The Summer Tanager gave a good look and the Golden-Plover was nice icing but it was a bit of a round trip for relatively few migrants. It didn't seem like I had much time to make a run to Sabal Palm so I decided to go to Progreso (often spelt Progresso in birding hotspots, probably erroneously) to look for blackbirds at the grain silos (very few perhaps because of no operations on Sunday) and then shorebirds at the sod farm. En route I made a brief stop of Estero Llano Grande SP but saw exactly the same species from the deck as the previous day.
Wet roads eliminated any idea of going on dirt roads at the sod farm (where I'm not sure about the access rules anyway) but by good luck I found TEN Upland Sandpipers on one stretch of lawn right next to Old Military Highway (US-281) - not so much part of the sod farm but just the green lawn in front of a car part business. I also encountered a flock of State Police with a total of 8 between Progreso and Santa Ana NWR and four more afterwards. These guys are clearly not just issuing speeding tickets but I'm not sure they're the best option for immigration enforcement. Perhaps more political posturing by the current governor than a significant impact.
At Santa Ana NWR my main aim was to check out Willow Lakes using the trails along the northern edge to make a subsequent visit faster and make the most of a little remaining light in the day. In any event the decent results at Bentsen and Anzalduas removed much of the "must see" elements of Santa Ana, although kingfishers are often a lure on Pintail Lakes. I heard a Clay-colored Thrush singing from the trail but there wasn't a great deal on the Willow Lakes whose lush aquatic growth limited the sight lines - most of the birds were American Coots. An American Wigeon there was the only one for the trip. At least the trails were relatively viable unlike the subsequent visit to Santa Ana. There was a reasonable amount of water in Willow Lakes, as in some years it has been a little dry, so the lush growth may have reflected a wet year that was good for growth conditions (and useful for nesting cover for aquatic birds).
Black-bellied Whistling-Duck Gadwall American Wigeon Blue-winged Teal Plain Chachalaca White Ibis Turkey Vulture American Coot Inca Dove White-tipped Dove White-winged Dove Mourning Dove nighthawk sp. - suspect Lesser Chimney Swift Golden-fronted Woodpecker American Kestrel Brown-crested Flycatcher Great Kiskadee Couch's Kingbird Green Jay Barn Swallow Black-crested Titmouse Clay-colored Thrush Northern Mockingbird Olive Sparrow Red-winged Blackbird Great-tailed Grackle Bronzed Cowbird
Salineno panorama - looking south over the Rio Grande towards Mexico
Once the birds started drying out and warming up, birding was quite reasonable. Ducks were around on the river (Gadwall, Shoveler, Blue-winged Teal) but the most interesting birds were Spotted Sandpiper, Green Kingfisher and two Ringed Kingfishers - one of the latter was nice enough to cross the river from MX to TX eliminating any qualms about adding it to the year list. A hike upstream on the track netted few passerines but Lincoln's Sparrow, Clay-colored Thrush and softly singing Yellow-billed Cuckoo were all decent finds. Altamira Orioles were at the boat "ramp" but I had to work hard to find an Audubon's Oriole on the tree tops of the river upstream. Finally all that scoping of the island paid off because I saw one Red-billed Pigeon that briefly perched up on that island. No feeders active, so I wasn't really expecting a ton of birds right at this spot.
Gadwall Mottled Duck Blue-winged Teal Northern Shoveler Plain Chachalaca Neotropic Cormorant Little Blue Heron Cattle Egret Black Vulture Turkey Vulture Osprey Spotted Sandpiper Red-billed Pigeon White-tipped Dove White-winged Dove Mourning Dove Yellow-billed Cuckoo Ringed Kingfisher Green Kingfisher Golden-fronted Woodpecker Crested Caracara Brown-crested Flycatcher Great Kiskadee Couch's Kingbird Green Jay Bank Swallow Black-crested Titmouse Clay-colored Thrush Lark Sparrow Lincoln's Sparrow Summer Tanager Northern Cardinal Red-winged Blackbird Great-tailed Grackle Bronzed Cowbird Altamira Oriole Audubon's Oriole House SparrowI took a very ill-advised foray down the Falcon cut-off road from Salineno which was OK initially and then rapidly degenerated into churning through mud at low speeds. Rule 101 in TX is No Trespassing. Rule 102 is Never Drive Down a Wet Dirt Road in a Passenger Car. I never got stuck but I did get very, very close at a couple of points. No worthwhile bird sightings since I was fighting the car every inch of the way. However up at Falcon Heights I got a male Hooded Oriole, and along the entrance road at Falcon SP I added Verdin. I didn't spend any time at Falcon SP because I was more interested in going further up-river to San Yagnacio.
I pressed on through Zapata to San Ygnacio, where I saw two White-collared Seedeater males perched up and singing and two Yellow-breasted Chats in the same general area. That doubles the number of Seedeaters I've ever seen (previously: one male and one female at San Ygnacio and Laredo respectively). A Chihuahuan Raven flew over and three more were seen near Zapata. I had my only confirmed Black-chinned Hummingbird for the trip that flashed a little purple on the gorget.
Swainson's Hawk White-winged Dove Mourning Dove Black-chinned Hummingbird Golden-fronted Woodpecker Brown-crested Flycatcher Couch's Kingbird Chihuahuan Raven Common Yellowthroat Yellow-breasted Chat White-collared Seedeater Olive Sparrow Red-winged Blackbird Great-tailed Grackle Brown-headed Cowbird Orchard Oriole Hooded Oriole House Sparrow
By the time I returned to Zapata it was overcast. Rather than bird the state park at Falcon Heights I birded the county park - Falcon County Park or Starr County Park depending on which name you feel fits best - the sign says Falcon CP but the birding locations are perhaps being revisionist. The park was mostly devoid of people and there are very limited facilities here for campers - it is after all free (the snake skin at left was hanging in the men's restroom in the park). There were lots of Scissor-tailed Flycatchers but it was sparrows and semi-arid habitat birds that were good finds here: Black-throated Sparrow, Verdin, Cactus Wren, Curve-billed Thrasher, heard Cassin's Sparrow and a bright Grasshopper Sparrow. Lark Sparrows were pretty numerous here. Since I found all of my target species that I expected at the state park I skipped that site and drove down-river toward Roma.
Turkey Vulture Mourning Dove Greater Roadrunner Vermilion Flycatcher Myiarchus sp. Scissor-tailed Flycatcher Barn Swallow Verdin Cactus Wren Curve-billed Thrasher Northern Mockingbird Cassin's Sparrow (heard) Lark Sparrow Black-throated Sparrow Grasshopper Sparrow Pyrrhuloxia Hooded Oriole
At Roma the bluffs held nothing of interest but I took pictures of the town square. The usual slow slog through the 30 mph sections of Roma and especially Rio Grande City had me Back down into the lower valley by mid afternoon where a brief stop at Bentsen SP yielded Buff-bellied Hummingbird, Black Phoebe, Curve-billed Thrasher and a fly-over Kestrel. Then on to Santa Ana NWR where the rain had turned the trails to and around Pintail Lakes into a clay quagmire, much of it adhering tenaciously to my boots. Between that and an encounter with Fire Ants - fully earning their name as they crawled up my left leg - I wasn't too enthused by Santa Ana (no Least Grebe) but I did see an Eastern Wood-Pewee and two Lesser Goldfinches. Three Northern Bobwhite flushed off the trail at Pintail Lakes which contained many Blue-winged Teal, several Shoveler, and two Gull-billed Terns.
A sprint to South Padre Island to check on migrant activity produced a "wow" moment as I parked at the Valley Land Fund lots and immediately found Blue-headed Vireo, Black-throated Green Warbler, Northern Parula and Swainson's Thrush. I quickly added multiple Yellow-breasted Chats, a female Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Nashville Warbler, Indigo Bunting, Great Crested Flycatcher, female Hooded Warbler, flyby Nighthawk sp and two Chuck-will's-widows.
Eurasian Collared-Dove Mourning Dove nighthawk sp. Chuck-will's-widow Great Crested Flycatcher Blue-headed Vireo Warbling Vireo Swainson's Thrush Wood Thrush Black-and-white Warbler Nashville Warbler Common Yellowthroat Hooded Warbler Northern Parula Black-throated Green Warbler Yellow-breasted Chat Rose-breasted Grosbeak Indigo Bunting Great-tailed GrackleMoving on to the convention center the warblers were: Black-and-white, Tennessee, Parula, Prothonotary, Black-throated Green plus both Orchard and Baltimore Orioles, Great Crested Flycatchers, Lincoln's Sparrow, Sora. At dusk three Scissor-tailed Flycatchers flew over as did a Nighthawk with white on the wing that suggested Lesser (but I'm not confident on picking them out in the air like that).
Black-bellied Whistling-Duck Laughing Gull Royal Tern Eurasian Collared-Dove White-winged Dove Mourning Dove nighthawk sp. Ruby-throated Hummingbird Buff-bellied Hummingbird Great Crested Flycatcher Scissor-tailed Flycatcher Warbling Vireo Catharus sp. Northern Mockingbird Black-and-white Warbler Prothonotary Warbler Tennessee Warbler Hooded Warbler Northern Parula Black-throated Green Warbler Yellow-breasted Chat Lincoln's Sparrow Indigo Bunting Red-winged Blackbird Great-tailed Grackle Orchard Oriole Baltimore OrioleThis was my last night down in the RGV and I stayed again at the SPI Super 8 which had considerably lower occupancy than the previous evening. The wild and crazy evening's activities included laundry and starting to chip all that Salineno mud off the rental car.
Worm-eating Warbler (first spring)
Prothonotary Warbler female
Waking up on South Padre Island the day actually dawned clear, so I
headed to the convention center after grabbing coffee. There weren't
as many birds as the previous day but there were still some
interesting birds around - likely some of them being exactly the same
individuals as the previous day, like the two Prothonotary Warblers. I added Worm-eating
Warbler to the year list and got decent views of it - it had a damaged
left eye sadly making it quite identifiable. The blue sky didn't last, with a small storm system headed in from the
west, so when it clouded over I headed out to check out of the hotel, rinse the rental car,
grab breakfast and check out the Valley Land Fund lots.
Black-bellied Whistling-Duck Great Blue Heron Clapper Rail Sora Black-bellied Plover Laughing Gull Franklin's Gull Least Tern Royal Tern Eurasian Collared-Dove Ruby-throated Hummingbird Buff-bellied Hummingbird White-eyed Vireo Warbling Vireo House Wren Sedge Wren Swainson's Thrush European Starling Worm-eating Warbler Black-and-white Warbler Prothonotary Warbler Common Yellowthroat Northern Parula Black-throated Green Warbler Lincoln's Sparrow Indigo Bunting Red-winged Blackbird Great-tailed Grackle Hooded Oriole Baltimore Oriole House SparrowThe Valley lots were quiet with just a couple of Indigo Buntings. A storm front was moving in and the wind was rising so I made the best of deteriorating conditions and left the island to visit Sabal Palm Preserve - historically a place where I've seen lots of Least Grebes and many valley specialities but whose species lists in recent years have been perhaps a little off. They have refurbished the old plantation house and moved the visitor center to there, with the old hut near the feeders being boarded up. A Great Horned Owl nested in one of the palms immediately next to the house, in fact in view of the visitor center, and the three owlets were coming along nicely. That's probably a new TX bird for me. The feeders contained mostly White-tipped Doves and a few other things like Green Jay. The rest of the preserve was quiet with NOTHING on the resaca and precious little on the trails (a couple of Olive Sparrows heard, a Titmouse, four Hooded Orioles, Couch's Kingbirds and Carolina Wrens). I'm not sure what's up with the resaca but if you're reading this for trip planning be sure to check eBird sightings reports before heading here. Perhaps it's better in the winter.
Headed back to South Padre Island and the convention center. The wind had switched to the north-east and was moderately strong. Potential conditions for a fall-out but in the meanwhile there were warblers to look at and I added more species to the morning's visit: Tennessee and Blue-winged. By around 4pm it was obvious that a small migration fall-out was happening with more orioles (Orchard, Baltimore), Summer Tanager, multiple Indigo Buntings, two male Painted Buntings, and several other warblers and vireos dropping in. Apart from the Tanager and the Painted Buntings actually nothing new but more individuals of each, particularly Orchard Orioles, Black-and-white Warblers and Indigo Buntings.
I stayed here until the last possible moment taking pictures of migrants until I had to do a quick clothing change, wash the mud from the car and return to HRL for a 7:50pm flight to HOU. Food vendors were still open at HRL but some did close just before the flight departed - there's not a lot of flights in or out each day and this might have been the last one. This is a short flight and promisingly the incoming HOU-HRL flight arrived early. We actually landed a little early into HOU - given the bumpy start to the flight it is admirable that the flight attendants actually manage to fit a drinks service in the short window that they were afforded. Lots of pooled water around Winnie was in line with the fairly ugly NEXRAD radar I saw for this area that morning with Yet Another Storm System passing through.
Two nights at America's Best Value Inn, Winnie, same place as the
start of the trip.
Black-bellied Whistling-Duck Little Blue Heron Cattle Egret Black Vulture White-winged Dove Mourning Dove Yellow-billed Cuckoo Ruby-throated/Black-chinned Hummingbird Belted Kingfisher White-eyed Vireo Blue-headed Vireo Red-eyed Vireo Tree Swallow Barn Swallow Marsh Wren Carolina Wren Swainson's Thrush Gray Catbird Brown Thrasher Northern Mockingbird Louisiana/Northern Waterthrush Tennessee Warbler Common Yellowthroat Hooded Warbler Northern Parula Yellow-rumped Warbler Northern Cardinal Painted Bunting Boat-tailed/Great-tailed Grackle Brown-headed Cowbird Orchard Oriole Baltimore OrioleOut to Rollover Pass where on the bay side the sheer number of birds was amazing. Lots of shorebirds and abundant terns. New birds were Snowy Plover, a group of eight Hudsonian Godwits in full alternate plumage, many Avocets and Marbled Godwits. At one point a Merlin put about half the birds up in the air as it stormed through the flocks but it seemed less adept at catching them.
Gadwall Blue-winged Teal Northern Shoveler cormorant sp. Brown Pelican Great Blue Heron Great Egret Snowy Egret Little Blue Heron Tricolored Heron Reddish Egret Roseate Spoonbill Black-necked Stilt American Avocet American Oystercatcher Black-bellied Plover Snowy Plover Semipalmated Plover Piping Plover Greater Yellowlegs Willet Lesser Yellowlegs Hudsonian Godwit Marbled Godwit Ruddy Turnstone Stilt Sandpiper Sanderling Dunlin Semipalmated Sandpiper Short-billed Dowitcher Long-billed Dowitcher Laughing Gull Ring-billed Gull Herring Gull Least Tern Caspian Tern Black Tern Common Tern Forster's Tern Royal Tern Sandwich Tern Black Skimmer Great-tailed GrackleAfter Rollover I elected to back-track to Winnie and then head out to Sabine Woods at the extreme eastern edge of Texas. Never been there before and it's about 45 minutes from Winnie. The habitat is much more open than High Island which makes for a better birding experience that is a little more like birding in The Ramble. Few birds were singing but by far the best find was a Cerulean Warbler male and in the same general location my FOY Blue-gray Gnatcatcher and Yellow-throated Vireo. A Palm Warbler was singing - a new trip bird, as were the pair of Downy Woodpeckers. I also added Wood Thrush, Worm-eating Warbler and a Northern Waterthrush. The "Red-bellied" is listed as Melanerpes because there's a known Golden-fronted at this site and I didn't eyeball any of the woodpeckers.
Ruby-throated Hummingbird Melanerpes sp. Downy Woodpecker White-eyed Vireo Yellow-throated Vireo Red-eyed Vireo Blue Jay Blue-gray Gnatcatcher Ruby-crowned Kinglet Swainson's Thrush Wood Thrush Gray Catbird Brown Thrasher Northern Mockingbird Worm-eating Warbler Northern Waterthrush Black-and-white Warbler Tennessee Warbler Hooded Warbler Cerulean Warbler Northern Parula Palm Warbler Yellow-rumped Warbler Black-throated Green Warbler Summer Tanager Northern Cardinal Red-winged Blackbird Great-tailed Grackle Boat-tailed/Great-tailed Grackle
One of the notable things at Sabine Woods was this very large bee "hive" that had
taken over a large (owl or Wood Duck-sized) nest box near the site where I observed
the Cerulean. (There was a second nearby bee hive in a more conventional setting of a tree trunk.)
In neither case did the bees seem aggressive and this is on the upper limit of the range for
Africanized bees - nevertheless both hives were close to the trails.
After returning to Winnie I headed towards Anahuac via FM-1941 and some flooded fields along that road. The field at the corner of TX-124 and FM-1941 had a good mix of birds that included many Whimbrels, a few American Golden-Plover, Semipalmated Plovers, Semipalmated Sandpipers, Pectoral Sandpiper and a few Yellowlegs. A Swainson's Hawk was at this spot too.
At another field further west along FM-1941 it took a few seconds to realize that the lumps in the flooded field weren't mud, they were thousands of Long-billed Dowitchers. In with them were many Dunlin and Stilt Sandpipers, several Pectoral Sandpipers, another American Golden-Plover, a couple of peeps (Semis?), a Semipalmated Plover but apart from the magnitude of the Dowitcher flock a Buff-bellied Sandpiper was the best find. Singles of Black-necked Stilt and Roseate Spoonbill. At South Pear Orchard Road - a dirt/gravel road that surely has never seen any form of orchard - several Blue-winged Teal were on the adjacent flooded section of fields but no more shorebirds.
At Anahuac NWR I had much the same mix of species as before - the water level was somewhat higher, and I passed by the shorebirds in the flooded field since it was contra light and it would be hard to imagine adding (m)any new species. However I did find two Swamp Sparrows, a single Purple Gallinule and a Coomon Nighthawk at the Willows where a snake made a rapid exit from the edge of the parking lot before I could ID it. Near the flooded field at the visitor center I heard a Sedge Wren and after some patience I saw it singing from the base of a small shrub, completely obscured but no more than 20 feet away. Orchard Orioles were nearby and Eastern Kingbirds were at the Willows, and were also seen in decent numbers of the wires - I thought that perhaps more migrants might have arrived.
So I returned to High Island to see what had changed over, if anything. Along FM-1985 a Swainson's Hawk was perched on a road-side fence, giving good looks, with something small in its talons that looked like a toad (too big for an insect, which is often the prey for Swainson's). At High Island Tennessee and Yellow-rumped Warblers were outside the entrance along with inevitable Orchard Orioles - the Orchards were present in decent numbers. At the drip a Wood Thrush and a male Rose-breasted Grosbeak. Not much in the southern open area and really only a Hooded Warbler of note along the paths but getting back to the bleachers I saw a male Prothonotary Warbler at the end of the boardwalk. More Orchard Orioles and two Tennessee Warblers at the drip.
The weather was clearing up nicely toward sunset so there was just enough reason to head to Rollover Pass to see what was happening. I didn't get the scope out at the beach but various terns had come into the beach before finally headed out to roost elsewhere. Good looks at Common, Royal and Sandwich.
The last day in the field with a 2pm-ish exit time to travel to HOU and return the rental car. I started a Sabine Woods where Blue-headed Vireo and Worm-eating Warbler were the first two birds I saw. I took the paths to the west edge which looked good for skulkers like Hooded Warbler (heard) and even better species. I saw a Yellow-breasted Chat and then practically jumped out of my skin when a Swainson's Warbler sang near me - and probably flew right by me on the trail - it was so loud I suspected that a nearby birder was taping, but I was clearly wrong about that. A few minutes later it sang again but that was it for the vocalization. Then it was down to finding it, which took at least half an hour. A single White-throated Sparrow flew into the thicket. The first interesting bird I got in that thicket was a Kentucky Warbler - my first for the trip - and fairly soon afterwards the Swainson's Warbler flew in and popped up on a branch before dropping into leaves. Despite knowing exactly where it was +/- 1 foot it was very difficult to see. It did pop up once in the branches, which is where I got the photo at left, but otherwise was the skulker that it is known for. Nevertheless only my second Swainson's, the first one I've heard singing, and the first one anywhere near breeding territory. Got a few more birders on it which was gratifying. Black-and-white Warbler, Black-throated Green Warbler, Great Crested Flycatcher were the other migrants seen and heard on a very summary skim of the property since time was marching on, much of it used in the rewarding search for the Swainson's.
The forecast was for storms, and these started to build in earnest off the coast and drift onto land. By the time I'd returned to Winnie for breakfast and hotel check-out one such storm was headed toward High Island so I took FM-1941 to check the shorebird fields from the previous day. The water level had dropped in both fields and both held smaller numbers of similar species to the previous day but nothing noteworthy enough to get rained on by the northern edge of that big storm. I encounted my first/only Blue Grosbeak on the side of the road at S. Pear Orchard Road and then along FM-1985 I got hammered by the storm and sat it out at the side of the road for a while.
Then on to High Island, skipping to the south side of the departing storm. Lesser Yellowlegs and Solitary Sandpiper were in the small park (historical marker) on the north side of High Island. Possibly three American Bitterns were seen migrating over the marsh from TX-124 but had dropped down by the time I pulled the U-turn. High Island was relatively quiet, but Orchard Orioles, Tennessee Warblers, Indigo Buntings, Prothonotary Warbler, multiple Rose-breasted Grosbeaks in one tree. The continuing line of storms seemed to induce migrants to either drop out or at least turn up in front of us where we were sheltering from the latest storm at the Boy Scout Woods reception area - Nashville Warbler was added to the mix. Looked like it had the prospect for somewhat of a fall-out later in the day but I ran out of time and decided to head back to HOU via the Interstate rather than via the ferry. Storms were proliferating and drifting onto land from the Gulf so there was no shortage of precipitation along the interstate - at times very difficult driving with torrential rain from the line of storms, but apart from one other car spinning out no harm done. Southwest had a 30 minute delayed flight out of HOU to EWR but regained half that time difference my arrival. Baggage claim was once again quite fast.
|Pied-billed Grebe||Podilymbus podiceps||various|
|American White Pelican||Pelecanus erythrorhynchos||Rollover Pass|
|Brown Pelican||Pelecanus occidentalis||coastal, mostly Upper Texas Coast|
|Neotropic Cormorant||Phalacrocorax brasilianus||widespread|
|Double-crested Cormorant||Phalacrocorax auritus||mostly Upper Texas Coast|
|Great Blue Heron||Ardea herodias||various wet areas|
|Great Egret||Ardea alba||various wet areas|
|Snowy Egret||Egretta thula||various wet areas|
|Little Blue Heron||Egretta caerulea||various wet areas|
|Tricolored Heron||Egretta tricolor||various, mostly Upper Texas Coast|
|Reddish Egret||Egretta rufescens||Rollover Pass, Bolivar Flats, South Padre Island|
|Cattle Egret||Bubulcus ibis||various pastures|
|Green Heron||Butorides virescens||various wet areas|
|Black-crowned Night-Heron||Nycticorax nycticorax||South Padre Island|
|Yellow-crowned Night-Heron||Nyctanassa violacea||a few in Upper Texas Coast and South Padre Island|
|White Ibis||Eudocimus albus||mostly Upper Texas Coast|
|White-faced Ibis||Plegadis chihi||large flocks at Anahuac NWR|
|Roseate Spoonbill||Platalea ajaja||various wet areas|
|Black Vulture||Coragyps atratus|
|Turkey Vulture||Cathartes aura|
|Black-bellied Whistling-Duck||Dendrocygna autumnalis||widespread in Rio Grande Valley, also near Anahuac NWR|
|Fulvous Whistling-Duck||Dendrocygna bicolor||Anahuac NWR|
|Gadwall||Anas strepera||a few at various locations|
|American Wigeon||Anas americana||one female at Santa Ana NWR|
|Mottled Duck||Anas fulvigula||uncommon Upper Texas Coast and Rio Grande Valley|
|Blue-winged Teal||Anas discors||various, from Salineno through Rollover Pass and Anahuac NWR - on the move|
|Cinnamon Teal||Anas cyanoptera||Estero Llano Grande SP|
|Northern Shoveler||Anas clypeata||various Upper Texas Coast, Estero Llano Grande SP, Salineno|
|Green-winged Teal||Anas crecca||Anahuac NWR|
|Redhead||Aythya americana||South Padre Island|
|Ring-necked Duck||Aythya collaris||Santa Ana NWR|
|Red-breasted Merganser||Mergus serrator||one at Rollover Pass|
|Osprey||Pandion haliaetus||very few: South Padre Island and Anahuac NWR|
|White-tailed Kite||Elanus leucurus||Rio Grande Valley and near Anahuac NWR|
|Mississippi Kite||Ictinia mississippiensis||flock of ~160 at Bentsen SP|
|Northern Harrier||Circus cyaneus||Anahuac NWR|
|Sharp-shinned Hawk||Accipiter striatus||a few, various locations|
|Cooper's Hawk||Accipiter cooperii||one at Estero Llano Grande SP|
|Harris's Hawk||Parabuteo unicinctus||several in Rio Grande Valley|
|Broad-winged Hawk||Buteo platypterus||many flocks at Bentsen SP|
|Swainson's Hawk||Buteo swainsoni||various migration birds near Laguna Atascosa NWR, Anahuac NWR, Bentsen SP etc|
|White-tailed Hawk||Buteo albicaudatus||near Laguna Atascosa NWR|
|Red-tailed Hawk||Buteo jamaicensis||only one (!), near Winnie|
|Crested Caracara||Caracara cheriway||various in Rio Grande Valley, near Anahuac on Upper Texas Coast|
|American Kestrel||Falco sparverius||migrating at Bentsen SP|
|Aplomado Falcon||Falco femoralis||TX-100 near Laguna Vista|
|Merlin||Falco columbarius||one at Rollover Pass, also further down Bolivar peninsula|
|Peregrine Falcon||Falco peregrinus||two near High Island|
|Plain Chachalaca||Ortalis vetula||widespread in Rio Grande Valley|
|Northern Bobwhite||Colinus virginianus||Santa Ana NWR, vicinity of Laguna Atascosa NWR|
|Clapper Rail||Rallus crepitans||South Padre Island|
|King Rail||Rallus elegans||*HEARD* Anahuac NWR|
|Sora||Porzana carolina||South Padre Island, High Island|
|Purple Gallinule||Porphyrio martinicus||Anahuac NWR|
|Common Gallinule||Gallinula galeata||various|
|American Coot||Fulica americana||various|
|Black-bellied Plover||Pluvialis squatarola||Rollover Pass, Bolivar Flats, Aransas NWR, South Padre Island|
|American Golden-Plover||Pluvialis dominica||Anahuac NWR|
|Snowy Plover||Charadrius nivosus||Rollover Pass|
|Wilson's Plover||Charadrius wilsonia||Rollover Pass, Bolivar Flats|
|Semipalmated Plover||Charadrius semipalmatus||Rollover Pass, Bolivar Flats, Aransas NWR|
|Piping Plover||Charadrius melodus||Rollover Pass, Bolivar Flats|
|American Oystercatcher||Haematopus palliatus||Rollvoer Pass|
|Black-necked Stilt||Himantopus mexicanus||various salt and freshwater|
|American Avocet||Recurvirostra americana||Rollover Pass, Estero Llano Grande SP|
|Greater Yellowlegs||Tringa melanoleuca||various, more coastal|
|Lesser Yellowlegs||Tringa flavipes||various, more inland|
|Solitary Sandpiper||Tringa solitaria||Estero Llano Grande SP, High Island, Anahuac NWR|
|Willet||Catoptrophorus semipalmatus||various coastal|
|Spotted Sandpiper||Actitis macularia||Estero Llano Grande SP, Salineno|
|Upland Sandpiper||Bartramia longicauda||Progreso sod farms|
|Whimbrel||Numenius phaeopus||Anahuac NWR, High Island|
|Hudsonian Godwit||Limosa haemastica||Rollover Pass|
|Marbled Godwit||Limosa fedoa||Bolivar Flats, Rollover Pass|
|Ruddy Turnstone||Arenaria interpres||Bolivar Flats, Rollover Pass, Anahuac NWR|
|Red Knot||Calidris canutus||Bolivar Flats|
|Sanderling||Calidris alba||Rollover Pass, Bolivar Flats|
|Semipalmated Sandpiper||Calidris pusilla||near Anahuac NWR, Rollover Pass|
|Western Sandpiper||Calidris mauri||Bolivar Flats|
|Least Sandpiper||Calidris minutilla||Anahuac NWR|
|Pectoral Sandpiper||Calidris melanotos||Anahuac NWR|
|Dunlin||Calidris alpina||Anahuac NWR, Rollover Pass, South Padre Island|
|Stilt Sandpiper||Calidris himantopus||Anahuac NWR, Rollover Pass|
|Buff-breasted Sandpiper||Calidris subruficollis||near Anahuac NWR|
|Short-billed Dowitcher||Limnodromus griseus||Rollover Pass|
|Long-billed Dowitcher||Limnodromus scolopaceus||Anahuac NWR, Estero Llano Grande SP|
|Wilson's Snipe||Gallinago delicata||Anahuac NWR|
|Bonaparte's Gull||Chroicocephalus philadelphia||Rollover Pass|
|Laughing Gull||Leucophaeus atricilla||coastal|
|Franklin's Gull||Leucophaeus pipixcan||South Padre Island mostly|
|Ring-billed Gull||Larus delawarensis||Rollover Pass|
|Herring Gull||Larus argentatus||Rollover Pass, Bolivar Flats|
|Gull-billed Tern||Sterna nilotica||Rollover Pass, Santa Ana NWR|
|Caspian Tern||Sterna caspia||Rollover Pass|
|Royal Tern||Sterna maxima||Rollover Pass and South Padre Island|
|Sandwich Tern||Sterna sandvicensis||Rollover Pass and South Padre Island|
|Common Tern||Sterna hirundo||Rollover Pass|
|Forster's Tern||Sterna forsteri||Rollover Pass|
|Least Tern||Sterna antillarum||Rollover Pass and South Padre Island|
|Black Tern||Chlidonias niger||Rollover Pass|
|Black Skimmer||Rynchops niger||Rollover Pass and South Padre Island|
|Rock Pigeon||Columba livia||urban|
|Red-billed Pigeon||Columba flavirostris||one at Salineno|
|Eurasian Collared-Dove||Streptopelia decaocto||widespread|
|Inca Dove||Columbina inca||a few in Upper Texas Coast, more numerous in Rio Grande Valley|
|Common Ground-Dove||Columbina passerina||one or two at Estero Llano Grande SP|
|White-tipped Dove||Leptotila verreauxi||uncommon to locally common in lower Rio Grande Valley|
|White-winged Dove||Zenaida asiatica||widespread, especially in Rio Grande Valley|
|Mourning Dove||Zenaida macroura||widespread|
|Green Parakeet||Psittacara holochlorus||usual McAllen roost|
|Red-crowned Parrot||Amazona viridigenalis||Oliveira Park in Brownsville|
|Yellow-billed Cuckoo||Coccyzus americanus||Salineno, South Padre Island, High Isand|
|Greater Roadrunner||Geococcyx californianus||Laguna Atascosa NWR, Falcon/Starr CP|
|Great Horned Owl||Bubo virginianus||Sabal Palm Preserve|
|Common Nighthawk||Chordeiles minor||Upper Texas Coast|
|Chuck-will's-widow||Antrostomus carolinensis||South Padre Island Valley Land Fund lots|
|Chimney Swift||Chaetura pelagica||various, more common in Rio Grande Valley|
|Buff-bellied Hummingbird||Amazilia yucatanensis||South Padre Island, Bentsen SP|
|Ruby-throated Hummingbird||Archilochus colubris||various, mainly coastal|
|Black-chinned Hummingbird||Archilochus alexandri||San Ygnacio|
|Ringed Kingfisher||Megaceryle torquata||Salineno|
|Belted Kingfisher||Megaceryle alcyon||Upper Texas Coast, a few in Rio Grande Valley|
|Green Kingfisher||Chloroceryle americana||Salineno, Estero Llano Grande SP|
|Golden-fronted Woodpecker||Melanerpes aurifrons||common Rio Grande Valley|
|Yellow-bellied Sapsucker||Sphyrapicus varius||Sabine Woods|
|Ladder-backed Woodpecker||Picoides scalaris||uncommon Rio Grande Valley|
|Downy Woodpecker||Picoides pubescens||Sabine Woods|
|Northern Beardless-Tyrannulet||Camptostoma imberbe||Anzalduas CP, Bentsen SP|
|Eastern Wood-Pewee||Contopus virens||Santa Ana NWR|
|Black Phoebe||Sayornis nigricans||Bentsen SP|
|Vermilion Flycatcher||Pyrocephalus rubinus||Falcon/Starr CP|
|Great Crested Flycatcher||Myiarchus crinitus||South Padre Island, Sabine Woods|
|Brown-crested Flycatcher||Myiarchus tyrannulus||Anzalduas, Bentsen SP, Santa Ana NWR|
|Great Kiskadee||Pitangus sulphuratus||lower Rio Grande Valley|
|Tropical Kingbird||Tyrannus melancholicus||Quinta Mazatlan|
|Couch's Kingbird||Tyrannus couchii||Rio Grande Valley dominant tyrant flycatcher|
|Western Kingbird||Tyrannus verticalis||???????|
|Eastern Kingbird||Tyrannus tyrannus||Upper Texas Coast, some Rio Grande Valley|
|Scissor-tailed Flycatcher||Tyrannus forficatus||Upper Texas Coast, Rio Grande Valley|
|Loggerhead Shrike||Lanius ludovicianus||various|
|White-eyed Vireo||Vireo griseus||various|
|Yellow-throated Vireo||Vireo flavifrons||Sabine Woods|
|Blue-headed Vireo||Vireo solitarius||South Padre Island, High Island, Sabine Woods|
|Warbling Vireo||Vireo gilvus||South Padre Island, High Island|
|Red-eyed Vireo||Vireo olivaceus||South Padre Island, High Island, Sabine Woods|
|Blue Jay||Cyanocitta cristata||High Island, Sabine Woods|
|Green Jay||Cyanocorax yncas||various Rio Grande Valley|
|American Crow||Corvus brachyrhynchos||Port Arthur and Winnie|
|Chihuahuan Raven||Corvus cryptoleucus||coastal and up-river Rio Grande Valley|
|Purple Martin||Progne subis||various|
|Tree Swallow||Tachycineta bicolor||various|
|Northern Rough-winged Swallow||Stelgidopteryx serripennis||various but uncommon|
|Bank Swallow||Riparia riparia||Anahuac NWR, Salineno|
|Cliff Swallow||Petrochelidon pyrrhonota||various|
|Cave Swallow||Petrochelidon fulva||Bentsen SP (probably at other unchecked small culverts)|
|Barn Swallow||Hirundo rustica||various|
|Black-crested Titmouse||Baeolophus atricristatus||various Rio Grande Valley|
|Verdin||Auriparus flaviceps||Falcon SP, Falcon/Starr CP, heard near Laguna Atascosa NWR|
|Cactus Wren||Campylorhynchus brunneicapillus||Falcon/Starr CP, probably also near Laguna Vista|
|Carolina Wren||Thryothorus ludovicianus||various|
|House Wren||Troglodytes aedon||South Padre Island, High Island|
|Sedge Wren||Cistothorus platensis||Anahuac NWR|
|Marsh Wren||Cistothorus palustris||Anahuac NWR, High Island (heard)|
|Ruby-crowned Kinglet||Regulus calendula||Sabine Woods, High Island, South Padre Island, Anzalduas|
|Blue-gray Gnatcatcher||Polioptila caerulea||Sabine Woods|
|Swainson's Thrush||Catharus ustulatus||Sabine Woods, South Padre Island, heard at High Island|
|Wood Thrush||Hylocichla mustelina||Sabine Woods, High Island, heard at South Padre Island|
|Clay-colored Thrush||Turdus grayi||Salineno, Bentsen SP, heard at Santa Ana NWR|
|Gray Catbird||Dumetella carolinensis||South Padre Island, High Island, Sabine Woods|
|Northern Mockingbird||Mimus polyglottos||widespread, often near-abundant|
|Brown Thrasher||Toxostoma rufum||High Island, Sabine Woods|
|Long-billed Thrasher||Toxostoma longirostre||various Rio Grande Valley|
|Curve-billed Thrasher||Toxostoma curvirostre||Quinta Mazatlan, Bentsen SP|
|European Starling||Sturnus vulgaris||widespread urban and lush agricultural|
|Cedar Waxwing||Bombycilla cedrorum||Winnie, heard in Houston|
|Worm-eating Warbler||Helmitheros vermivorus||Sabine Woods, South Padre Island|
|Northern Waterthrush||Parkesia noveboracensis||Sabine Woods, probably heard at High Island|
|Louisiana Waterthrush||Parkesia motacilla||South Padre Island|
|Blue-winged Warbler||Vermivora cyanoptera||High Island, South Padre Island|
|Black-and-white Warbler||Mniotilta varia||High Island, South Padre Island, Sabine Woods|
|Prothonotary Warbler||Protonotaria citrea||High Island, South Padre Island|
|Swainson's Warbler||Limnothlypis swainsonii||Sabine Woods (+singing !)|
|Tennessee Warbler||Oreothlypis peregrina||almost common on South Padre Island, High Island|
|Orange-crowned Warbler||Oreothlypis celata||one at South Padre Island at start of trip - most had left|
|Nashville Warbler||Oreothlypis ruficapilla||South Padre Island, High Island|
|Kentucky Warbler||Geothlypis formosus||Sabine Woods|
|Common Yellowthroat||Geothlypis trichas||various - some likely on territory|
|Hooded Warbler||Setophaga citrina||South Padre Island, High Island, Sabine WOods|
|Cerulean Warbler||Setophaga cerulea||Sabine Woods|
|Northern Parula||Setophaga americana||South Padre Island, High Island, Sabine Woods|
|Tropical Parula||Setophaga pitiayumi||Anzalduas CP|
|Yellow Warbler||Setophaga petechia||South Padre Island|
|Palm Warbler||Setophaga palmarum||Sabine Woods|
|Yellow-rumped Warbler||Setophaga coronata||High Island, Anahuac NWR|
|Black-throated Green Warbler||Setophaga virens||South Padre Island, High Island, Sabine Woods|
|Yellow-breasted Chat||Icteria virens||Sabine Woods, South Padre Island|
|Summer Tanager||Piranga rubra||South Padre Island, Upper Texas Coast|
|Olive Sparrow||Arremonops rufivirgatus||various Rio Grande Valley|
|White-collared Seedeater||Sporophila torqueola||San Ygnacio|
|Cassin's Sparrow||Peucaea cassinii||HEARD ONLY: Falcon/Starr CP and near Laguna Atascosa NWR|
|Lark Sparrow||Chondestes grammacus||widespread in Rio Grande Valley scrub habitat edges|
|Black-throated Sparrow||Amphispiza bilineata||two at Falcon/Starr CP|
|Savannah Sparrow||Passerculus sandwichensis||Anahuac NWR, mainly|
|Grasshopper Sparrow||Ammodramus savannarum||Falcon/Starr CP|
|Lincoln's Sparrow||Melospiza lincolnii||South Padre Island, Salineno|
|Swamp Sparrow||Melospiza georgiana||Anahuac NWR|
|White-throated Sparrow||Zonotrichia albicollis||High Island, Sabine Woods|
|White-crowned Sparrow||Zonotrichia leucophrys||just a few at Anahuac NWR|
|Northern Cardinal||Cardinalis cardinalis||widespread|
|Pyrrhuloxia||Cardinalis sinuatus||Falcon/Starr CP|
|Rose-breasted Grosbeak||Pheucticus ludovicianus||South Padre Island, High Island|
|Blue Grosbeak||Passerina caerulea||farm field near Anahuac NWR|
|Indigo Bunting||Passerina cyanea||South Padre Island, High Island|
|Red-winged Blackbird||Agelaius phoeniceus||widespread|
|Eastern Meadowlark||Sturnella magna||coastal Upper Texas Coast, Rio Grande Valley|
|Common Grackle||Quiscalus quiscula||High Island|
|Boat-tailed Grackle||Quiscalus major||local on Upper Texas Coast|
|Great-tailed Grackle||Quiscalus mexicanus||widespread all the way to the Louisiana border|
|Bronzed Cowbird||Molothrus aeneus||Rio Grande Valley|
|Brown-headed Cowbird||Molothrus ater||sadly widespread|
|Orchard Oriole||Icterus spurius||South Padre Island, High Island|
|Hooded Oriole||Icterus cucullatus||Salineno, Falcon/Starr CP|
|Altamira Oriole||Icterus gularis||Salineno, Bentsen SP|
|Audubon's Oriole||Icterus graduacauda||Salineno|
|Baltimore Oriole||Icterus galbula||South Padre Island, High Island|
|Bullock's Oriole||Icterus bullockii||Anzalduas CP|
|Lesser Goldfinch||Carduelis psaltria||Santa Ana NWR|
|House Sparrow||Passer domesticus||widespread (sub) urban|
|Scaup sp.||Aythya sp.||Female of indeterminate sp at Estero Llano Grande SP - looked a little like Greater|
|American Bittern||Botaurus lentiginosus||Three flying over marsh north of High Island, seen in transit|
|Lesser Nighthawk||Chordeiles acutipennis||Probables at Santa Ana NWR and South Padre Island Convention Center|
|Red-bellied Woodpecker||Melanerpes carolinus||Proabably heard at Sabine Woods but there's a Golden-fronted also at this site|
|Least Grebe||Tachybaptus dominicus||One of the few TX trips that missed this species - some years I've had double digits|
|Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher||Myiodynastes luteiventris||One at High Island 5 minutes after I left - significant regional rarity. C'est la vie.|