Birding In Weslaco

We started our birding in the fog this morning. We were in a newer park in the Weslaco area called Estero Llano Grande State Park. This where the northern jacana was located this time last year. Llano Grande has a wonderful deck overlooking a lake. When we arrived at dawn there was a heavy fog and you could hear ducks, dowitchers and kingbirds.

This made for incredible atmosphere, but lousy digiscoping. This is a green kingfisher perched on top of a martin house.

But there were great birds all around like this lark sparrow who was mid preen when I took this photo.

It was very eerie, out of nowhere in the fog, huge flocks of red-wing blackbirds began to descend all around us, coming in for food. You would hear this large squeaky and squawking sound then this cloud of black would just appear overhead.

Gradually the fog began to lift and you could make out more birds, like these three black-bellied whistling ducks. It's interesting, there's been a black-bellied whistling duck hanging out on a lake about fifteen minutes from where I live in Minneapolis (that's a rare bird for that area) but I knew I would be seeing them soon in Texas and couldn't motivate myself to go see the one in the Twin Cities.

As the fog was lifting, several dew covered spider webs revealed themselves.

And the webs became part of the natural scenery in photos. Above is a female vermilion flycatcher perched near a web. Even though she isn't as bright as the male, she's still very attractive.

As the fog cleared, we started getting much better looks at the waterfowl. This bird confused me at first, but I think it's a molting green-winged teal--you can still see some cinnamon color around its bill--and the green on the wing.

I was really enjoying the shorebirds too. Check out that sleeping black-necked stilt surrounded by long-billed dowitchers. Looks like something out of Dr. Seuss.

Speaking of Dr. Seuss birds, check out this American avocet--they were quite active, there were several who spent so much time chasing each other, it's a wonder that they ever got enough to eat. While I was watching this bird, I noticed some movement behind it. To my surprise and delight...

I saw a sora! This bird was lurking in the reeds and then stopped right before it got to the opening out onto the water. I aimed my scoped just a little in front the sora and focused it. I figured the sora was making sure the ares was predator free before it would walk out into the open. However, instead of walking the bird jumped in the air, flew over the boardwalk and landed in another set of reeds. Not the exact shot I wanted of a sora, but fun to watch the behavior.

This young kiskadee let our group get quite close and many of us had a chance to get a photo. The group stayed still until the kiskadee decided to fly off. You can still see the gape at the corners of this bird's mouth--it's not very old at all. Look how scruffy the tail is.

After Llano Grande we made a couple more stops, one being Frontera Audubon. I thought it was interesting to note that as one of our field trip leaders was crouching to get a better look at a bird, a cat came up and started rubbing on his leg and spotting scope tripod. Silly kitty, birders think you should be indoors, not hanging around a great birding park.

And here's is one of the star feeder birds in south Texas--the green jay. What a treat! But the park was loaded with plain chachalacas:

Boy, you think squirrels can take over bird feeders, you should see a huge flock of chachalacas in action. That made short work of many of the grapefruits set out to attract orioles and butterflies--and they are just all over. You would walk along the trails, have a sensation of being watched, scan the brush and then find a chachalaca casually staring at you through the brush from only a few feet away. I think they're plotting. What, I don't know.

Okay, and now I have to sleep for more birding fun tomorrow.