Monday, December 30, 2013

Texas 12/19- Day 2

For our first full day in the Texas valley we decided to go to my favorite birding location; Salineno! This spot is known for being the only "reliable" place in the Valley (and ABA Area) to see wild Muscovy Ducks. It is also a great spot for hawks, Red-billed Pigeons, and Orioles. Teeming with excitement, we left Harlingen a little too early and arrived at Salineno about an hour before sunrise. Oops! At first light we were at the river and scoping for the Muscovys.

This was my 5th trip to Salineno and I had yet to see the Muscovy Ducks. This time, however, was a different story. Mike got on a Muscovy sitting on the Mexican shore at first light. As this bird clearly wasn't in the ABA area, we watched it as it was sure to take flight any minute. It would have to fly into ABA waters, right? Wrong. The bird took flight and flew directly into Mexico, over land and out of sight. We were not pleased, to say the least.

We decided to give it a few hours, hoping another duck would fly by on the American side. While we waited, this snazzy Zone-tailed Hawk flew very close by. I missed this bird in Arizona, so picking it up in Texas was a bonus.

Zone-tailed Hawk
A pair of Ringed Kingfishers were making a ruckus and flying back and forth along the river.

Ringed Kingfisher
We were starting to get impatient. It had been nearly two and a half hours and still no Muscovy. We said we would give it until 10am before leaving to do some feeder watching. At about 945am, I just happened to turn and look downriver to see a massive duck with big white wing patches heading straight for us! It flew directly in front of us at very close range. Muscovy Duck!

Muscovy Duck
Finally, a long awaited lifer! I've seen the domesticated ones in Florida, but I wanted to see the real deal.

We made our way to the feeders. We could hear the Kiskadees and Orioles singing from where we sat at the river. When we got to the feeders, they were empty. A Cooper's Hawk had recently swung through, so we had to wait for the birds to regroup.

Once the birds started feeding again, it wasn't long before this Audubon's Oriole made an appearance.

Audubon's Oriole
This Altamira Oriole joined the feeding frenzy as well.

Altamira Oriole
The last bright and colorful bird that I photographed at the feeders was the Great Kiskadee. These loud and proud birds always make their presence known in the Valley. I wasn't complaining!

Great Kiskadee
These colorful birds were a sight for sore eyes! Minneapolis has been devoid of such exotic looking creatures since the weather went south.

We continued on to Falcon State Park to look for Black-tailed Gnatcatchers and Scaled Quail, both of which we missed. We then checked San Ygnacio Bird Sanctuary for White-collared Seedeaters and missed those too. On the way we did see this juvenile Harris's Hawk.

Harris's Hawk
We decided to make the drive to Larado where we had both seen White-collared Seedeaters previously. Again, we failed. While we had a great morning of birding, the afternoon was fairly disheartening.

We needed our luck to change. We had plans of chasing a Tropical Parula (a would-be lifer for us both) the next morning and we didn't want to miss it!

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