Texas Rio Grande Valley Trip (2/2017)
Leader Ann Brinly
On Saturday, January 28th, six snow-weary SAS members boarded a plane bound for the balmy breezes of the Texas Rio Grande Valley. Our first morning found us in Texas City where we were successful in finding a cooperative Aplomado Falcon. The bird had been banded last year as a nestling and since it was a 2ndgeneration Texas we all added him to our US bird list. Next up was a short stop in Matagorda County looking for upper Texas coast birds. We found plenty including a first in my 18 trips to the valley – a female Painted Bunting. We continued our southward migration to Rockport.
Early the next morning found us aboard the Skimmer where Captain Tommy piloted us to several Whooping Crane sightings. Afterwards, a stop at the Sarita rest area produced our first Valley birds – Green Jays and Black-crested Titmouse. Brownsville was our next destination and we headed to Oliveria Park where we thoroughly enjoyed watching two to three hundred Red-lored, Red-headed, Yellow-headed and White-fronted Parrot coming in for the evening. A trip, (the next day) to Sabal Palms Sanctuary and Boca Chica Road yielded more Texas coast birds including several Least Grebe.
Four days in McAllen allowed us time to visit several of the birding hot spots. Estero Llano Grande afforded us close looks at the well camouflaged Common Paraque. At Quinta Mazatlan we marveled at the beauty of the old estate and thoroughly enjoyed the trail with the bronze statues of Texas wildlife. Black-bellied Whistling-ducks serenaded our time at the refuge. That evening we went to the strip center to look for the flock of several hundred Green Parakeet which gather in the evening before heading off to roost. We also enjoyed the thousands of Long-tailed Grackles, which create a cacophony of squawks as they settle on the wires for the evening. Bentsen State Park was uncharacteristically unbirdy. The feeders there were full but mostly the birds forgot to come. We did see a javelina or two while there. (The javelina at the park had been overly plentiful until a flood a few years ago nearly eliminated them from the area.)
We headed over to Anzaldous County Park where we were greeted by lots of birds flitting about. Black-crested Titmouse, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Eastern Bluebird and Vermilion Flycatcher kept us busy trying to ID them as the hid in the foliage of the majestic trees in the park. Edinburgh Wetlands provided us with Green Kingfisher, nice looks at Neo-tropic Cormorants and our first Green Heron. Then we headed to Falcon Dam State Park. There we were able to add Roadrunner, Verdin, Bobwhite and Black-throated Sparrows to our trip list. The next morning we went to spend some time feeder watching at Salineno where the Altimira Oriole and Great Kiskadee come almost within arm’s reach. We then said good-bye to the valley and headed to the Conroe area where we would find 5 (from three separate areas) Red-cockaded Woodpecker and several Brown-headed Nuthatch. Then back on the plane and back to the wintery north where we can enjoy our memories and our pictures.