Monday, November 26, 2012

Calliope... yes!

A quick pitstop into Russ Pittman before work this morning was rewarded with great looks at the Calliope and Broad-billed hummingbirds that have been there for the past few days! 

Both birds took to perching just above and behind the group of shrimp plants in the center of the park. Not only did we get the Calliope, we also got the honor of putting a fellow birder on their lifer Broad-billed. A good day!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Thanksgiving in the LRGV, Day 4...

Our last day in the LRGV was brief. We gave two hours of the morning to attempting the LTDU again... with no luck. We did find the Surf Scoter on the east side of Donna Reservoir, but could never ID the duck. We left the Valley around 10am and, of course, saw a report from around noon that the LTDU was there and folks were getting good scope views... (sigh).
We beelined back to Houston to give the rest of our light (about an hour) to the search for the Calliope Hummingbird seen at Russ Pittman Park in Belliare. Some birders already in the park had the bird about a half-hour before our arrival, but it didn't turn up for us as the sun went down.
We didn't get skunked today, however... I finally took a photo of a Common Grackle. About time, don't you think? 

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Thanksgiving in the LRGV, Day 3...

Rains came and went... and we went to Salineno and Falcon State Park. We got our first new photo year bird driving down 83 west of Rio Grande City when we noticed a few groups of Greater White-fronted Geese gliding over. We pulled over and I jumped out for some photos. More came... then more... then more... Holly then noticed they were all landing in a field right off the highway. We guesstimate there were around 5000 GWFG... and at least two Snow Geese. 

The morning on the river didn't yield the targeted Red-billed Pigeon or Muscovy Duck, but we did get great looks at Gray Hawk, Osprey, Atlamira Oriole and the heavily-armed Border Patrol! A quick ride over the Falcon State Park rewarded us with another new photo year bird... Greater Roadrunner! Ellen and Ron have a sweet little set-up at Falcon and we recommend a stop there for everyone in the area. Later... we made our way to Bentsen... and finally got our Northern-beardless Tyrannulet! Going into the last day, we've got seven new photo year birds. Here's hoping for one... maybe two more tomorrow! Stay tuned!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Thanksgiving in the LRGV, Day 2...

Have you ever stayed too long in one spot, hoping that the one bird you're after shows up... and when it never does it is too late to go looking for anything else? That's kind of how our day went today and our futile search for the Northern-beardless Tyrannulet. We tried Santa Ana... with no luck. No Hook-billed Kite either, but plenty of snail shells where one had been eating in the past. We tried Estero again... since that was a more recent sighting for the NBTY... with no luck. As the clouds thickened and the rain started we tried at dusk to find the Green Parakeets in McAllen... with no luck. The most exciting animal of the day... wasn't even a bird. It was this guy.

Always good to see a 'dillo still breathing... and not pancaked on the highway. We did add one bird today... a distant, but distinct Broad-tailed Hawk. With the rains due to pound for most of the night, our third day plan of Salineno/Falcon Lake may not be the best option since we'd be in the mud quite a bit. Plus, the weatherman isn't giving much of a guarantee that the rains will be over in the morning. We'll scheme this evening and come up with something.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thanksgiving in the LRGV, Day 1...

We made it down to the LRGV late Wednesday for a Thanksgiving weekend birding trip. We set out this morning to try for the Long-tailed Duck at Donna Reservoir. We arrived to find about a half-dozen birders already on the scene scouring the thousand-plus Scaup for the bird. We easily found the Surf Scoter, but the LTDU remained elusive. In the end, we did not see her. We may try again in the morning.

The Donna Scoter
As for count birds, we did add three today - Curve-billed Thrasher, Common Pauraque and Red-crowned Parrot. We are planning to hit Santa Ana tomorrow in hopes of adding a Northern-beardless Tyrannulet, and if we're really lucky... a Hook-billed Kite! Stay tuned!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Long-tailed Duck... No

A quick chase down to Lake Jackson, Texas - where a female Long-tailed Duck had been seen for the past couple of days - rewarded us with a raft of Lesser Scaup. The duck was on a private fish hatchery pond. The hatchery was kind enough to let birding groups take a shot at seeing the wayward duck. Alas, it appears she's flown the coop! As a consolation prize, we did get a new bird... Wilson's Snipe. We had a single bird patrolling the grassy area off the wetlands boardwalk on the far side of the hatchery. We'll be hitting the road in a couple of days with big hopes for more year birds. Stay tuned!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Down... but not out!

It's been a rough couple of weeks on the photo Big Year front. Work demands have kept us from getting out near as much as we'd like. Then, the past week we've had to keep close to home after Holly had her gall bladder removed. We're likely not going to get out again until later in the month. That said, we do have a trip to the LRGV set for Thanksgiving. Sad to hear that Salineno will be shut. That was definitely on our list... and the best shot to get our nemesis Brown Jay. I'm still hopeful we'll get to 500, but the clock is ticking. More soon...