Saturday, May 10, 2008

The Great Texas Birding Classic: Day 2

We were lazy on our second day, sleeping in until 530AM! We regrouped after a breakfast of something in a box and took off for Bentsen State Park. David Dauphin told us that we could find Barn Owls and Great Horned Owls on the levy between Bentsen and the NABA Butterfly park. We scored on the Great Horned, but dipped on the Barn Owl. No worries, Barn Owl should be no problem. Right?

We headed over to Bentsen and walked in. We were searching for Northern Beardless Tyrannulet, with no luck. There were plenty of the "regulars", Green Jays, Brown-crested Flycatchers, Long-billed Thrashers. along with a few warblers. The alarm on David's phone went off, letting us know it was time to head out. On the way out of the park we finally heard the tyrannulet.

Our next stop was Anzaldulas County Park. Here we got fabulous looks at a Gray Hawk sitting on a nest. A few migrants were around. This park usually produces good warblers. We drove up to the area overlooking the spillway to the dam, trying to find ducks. We did pick up a couple, though pickings were pretty slim. We had a discussion about how after the border wall goes in, this park will be no more. The tragedy of this boondoggle project hit us all over the valley. We are going to lose so many of our great birding spots.

Then we went on to Santa Ana NWR. Santa Ana has produced some amazing rarities in the past, including Crane Hawk and Roadside Hawk. Unfortunately the widespread drought the state has been experiencing has really hurt the refuge. We still managed to pick up some new birds. Shorebird were in good numbers at the Pintail complex. A Solitary Sandpiper flew out, giving only brief looks. There were Stilt Sandpipers, Long-billed Dowitchers, a number of peeps and a few other birds. Groove-billed Anis were being their normal goofy selves in the willows around the ponds.

David's alarm went off again, so we took off for our next stop, South Padre Island. one of the best migrant traps in the state. There are wood lots maintained in town by the Valley Land Fund, where tired migrants stop to drink, eat and just rest. We did see a few birds in the Sheepheads lot, but it was fairly quiet, so we drove to the convention center, where small motts of trees and shrubs are maintained for the birds. This was a very successful stop, with our best bird being a stunning male Cape May Warbler, one of my favorites and not easy to get in Texas. We got in the car to leave the island when we got a call from Scarlet Colley, a resident birder on South Padre. She gave us the location of a male Surf Scoter, just off the main drag in Port Isabel, across the causeway, where we were heading. What a beauty!

It was time to head north, back towards the lovely Bass Inn where we had started. We worked our way up to Corpus Christi, watching for Brewer's Blackbirds along the way. I kept saying that they would be no problem. They are ALWAYS at the Sarita Rest Stop. Guess what? No blackbirds. I assured Tony that I knew another spot where we could find them the next day. We then went to a small lake near Riveria, where we found a large number of shorebirds and a few ducks. We had an appointment at 530PM at the King Ranch, so we couldn't stay long.

We met Tom from the King Ranch at the headquarters building. He had us pile into a van and we headed off for a small pond, which held a real prize, a Masked Duck. We jumped out, scoped the duck and jumped back in and took off. We had no time to fool around. Tom gave us some information on a couple of geese that were hanging out at Lake Alice, between Kingsville and the Bass Inn, so we quickly headed there, hoping to make it before dark. Luckily we did and found a distant Snow Goose and a Greater White-fronted Goose across the lake. It was a great finish to a very full day!

1 comment:

mon@rch said...

WOW, what an amazing adventure and I couldn't have imagined the fun and tiring time you guys had doing this! Thanks for sharing. I can't wait to hear more about your Birding Classic!