Monday, December 13, 2010

Texas. LRGV part 1

Harris Hawk, north of La Joya, 'Sparrow Road'

Dickcissel: apparently a rare visitor to Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge. Sadly, the refuge was largely closed owing to recent flooding, but I did tag along on a couple of excellent guided walks. The first was with an Audubon Socitey group down from Washington DC, who gave me some excellent help in ID of the local birds (particularly helping me with unfamiliar calls). The second was a cultural tour, on which I learned much of the history of the place, but also managed to see my only Javelina (Collared Peccary) of the trip.

Boat-tailed Grackle: this is one the most ubiquitous birds in the Lower Rio Grande Valley, present just about anywhere and gathering in large flocks at roosting time.

Golden-fronted Woodpecker. This local speciality is common in good numbers everywhere in the LRGV. They readily come to feeders, including half-oranges.

Crested Caracara

Eastern Screech Owl. This is a regular bird in the car park of Estero Llano Grande State park and World Birding Center, near Weslaco (expect to see more photos later)

Green Jay. Another common LRGV speciality, this was the only corvid I saw in the region. The birds are particualry easy to see around feeders, and very difficult to photograph away from them!

Common Ground-dove, Estero Llano Grande, at the visitor centre feeders

Horned Lark, near Sebastian, north of Harlingen. Thre were dozens of Horned Larks in the ploughed fields, while I was searching for Mountain Plovers and Sprague's Pipits, after top American bird photographer Kevin Karlson had shown me some photos on his camera, where the piptis took up half a frame! I only ever got poor views of these birds, despite KK's attempts to help me find some.

American Snout, Santa Ana NWR

Fox Squirrel. This is one of the commonest mammals I encountered, though I was assured by all and sundry they are not native to the area.Still, a rather handsome beast.

Plain Chachalaca. I encountered most of the chachalacas I saw at heavily vegetated urban parks, where they form dense flocks, enjoying feeders.

Common Mestra

Northern Bobwhite, 'Sparrow Road' north of La Joya

Orange-crowned Warbler. The most abundant wood warbler in the region in autumn (and a pretty dull bird!), this is North America's worst-named bird

Saddlebags dragonfly. I'm not sure what species this is, but doubtless someone can help me out... This was photographed at Estero Llano Grande WBC

Common Pauraque. One of half-a-dozen or so at Estero Lanno Grande (expect more photos)

Pipevine Swallowtail. Estero Llano Grande WBC. A bit of a tatty specimen, this...

Queen. Estero Llano Grande WBC

Raccoon footprints Estero Llano Grande WBC

White-patched Skipper

Inca Dove

Common Mestra

Little Blue Heron. Estero Llano Grande WBC

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