At left is a photo of a Great Kiskadee that coworker Ben Lizdas digiscoped with my camera and Kate's Swarovski scope.
The Rio Grande Valley Bird Fest was a great time. If you have never birded south Texas this is a great way to get an idea of how to bird it. You may not see every target species while there, but that's okay you will want to return. These are places I birded:
Bentsen Rio Grande State Park where some of the highlights for me were Plain Chachalacas (pictured below), Green Jays, Great Kiskadees, Olive Sparrow, Least Grebe, Common Moorhen, Glossy Ibis, Altimira Oriole, White-tipped Dove, Javelina and Black-crested Titmouse. There was so much more, but that's all I can remember at the moment. The park has a really cool hawk tower where you can look down on the Olive Sparrows and ducks, grebes and herons on the water. As it gets later in the morning, raptors come up on the thermals. I so want to go back and watch for Gray Hawks.
Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge was my favorite I think. Lots of birding by car, especially for raptors. Katie, my cohort at Eagle Optics pulled over to some water to look for kingfishers and pointed out an alligator. I thought she was just messing with me, but for sure it was an alligator--sweet! Bird highlights for me included - 20,000 coots, White-tailed Hawk, Crested Caracara, Green Jays, Northern Harriers, Osprey, Loggerhead Shrikes, Merlin, Osprey, Roseate Spoonbills, Reddish Egrets, Sandwich Terns and Snow Geese. I missed seeing the Aplomado Falcons that are possible there, but that just means another bird for another day.
Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge was small but chock full of birds. Hook-billed Kites are possible, but I missed them--again, another bird for another day. Bird highlights here for me were Green Jays (sensing a pattern here-they were EVERYWHERE), Red-shouldered Hawk, Harris Hawk (pictured left), Couch's Kingbird, Ground Dove, Black-necked Stilt, American Bittern, Great Kiskadee, Common Moorhen, Mottled Duck, Olive Sparrow, Altimira Oriole and Golden-fronted Woodpecker.
Frontera Audubon Preserve was a quick little stop but is one of those magical urban oases where you can get a good fallout. Here the highlights were Black and White Warbler, Summer Tanager, Buff-bellied Hummingbirds, Inca Doves, Great Kiskadees, Plain Chachalacas and lots of mosquitoes--still scratching.