25 November 2008

Day Four in Texas

My last field trip of the festival would be to Weslaco. We spent most of our time at the Estero Llano Grande State Park which is the center of the World Birding Center network. The sunrise was beautiful and can be seen in this post. Black-bellied Whistling Ducks were EVERYWHERE on the pond. Also seen on the pond were Stilt Sandpipers, Least Sandpipers, Long-billed Dowitchers, and Wilson's Snipe. A Ring-necked Duck sat out in the middle of the pond and with a little closer inspection we found some Northern Shovelers and a Fulvous Whistling Duck.

Once the sun was up we headed for a future section of the park that is still under construction. We found a few mixed flocks of warblers and also got great looks at a Black-throated Magpie Jay, which is probably an escaped or released pet. The most frustrating part of this trip was in our search for the Rose-throated Becard. It had been seen the week of the festival in this section of the park. While looking at the magpie jay one of our leaders glimpsed an unusual bird. About 4 of us quickly got on it and saw it move down a palm tree. After much searching we couldn't relocate the bird and no one else got a better look. At the time I wasn't positive of my ID but after scanning photos of the becard on the internet I feel pretty good that I saw it. However it was a horrible look.

After we called off the becard search we headed back towards the nature center. Some Plain Chachalacas were feeding on the platform. I saw these birds almost everywhere I went but they still were quite a sight. To end our trip at Estero we went to the scouted out area where not one but THREE Common Pauraque were sleeping. Below you can see two of our leaders, Jim White and Keven Karlson getting everyone on the birds. The look in the scope was simply amazing. I've seen a nightjar or two of my life but never a view like this one.

We made a quick trip to Frontera Audubon/ Frontera Audubon before leaving Weslaco. Jim helped me get my lifer Wilson's Warbler. I had killer looks of it near a brush pile. But most of the time at this park was spent photographing lepidopteras which hopefully one day I will identify and post.

After lunch Andy, Kim, and I met back up for an afternoon field trip of our own. Due to the proposed border wall construction I had heard that the Sabal Palms Audubon Center would be destroyed. So we decided to spend our last afternoon in Texas checking out the park. It was fairly quiet in the afternoon though we did find an armadillo. And Andy picked up a few new lifers at the park so it was definitely worth the drive. With the day fading quickly we headed out to the Rio Grande for some last looks before heading back to Harlingen and our keynote speaker, Kenn Kaufman.

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