Date: 4/2/17 5:02 pm
From: Rex Stanford <calidris.bairdii...>
Subject: [texbirds] Weaver Rd. (Cameron Co.) sod shorebirds 04/02/17
Today (Sunday, 04/02/17) my wife (Birgit) and I (Rex) birded both the
Weaver Road sod fields (two complete tours) and the southmost Progreso sod
fields (one tour) at the times indicated below.
WEAVER ROAD SOD FIELDS (10:20-10:55 AM): We started at the north end of
these sod fields, an area that had been liberally irrigated—well, the
westernmost area, at least—providing plenty of standing water. Not
surprisingly, this area proved substantially productive in terms of
shorebirds: AMERICAN GOLDEN-PLOVER (51); KILLDEER (2); LESSER YELLOWLEGS
(1); BAIRD’S SANDPIPER (2); and BUFF-BREASTED SANDPIPER (1). This turnout
of shorebirds had attracted a watchful PEREGRINE FALCON (1), which sat on
the sod out to the southwest of most of the shorebirds. It had been there
upon our arrival, as had the shorebirds, and it, along with most of the
shorebirds, departed as we carefully studied two distant calidris
sandpipers (same species), which soon moved about enough that both of us
could unequivocally establish their identity as Baird’s Sandpiper. They
were very healthy looking, handsome birds, and I wanted to try a distant
photo, but the moment I had the camera ready and my finger on the trigger,
they, like the other shorebirds before them, took to the air and headed
somewhere to the east. We then surveyed the easternmost segment (quite dry)
of the north dog-leg on Weaver Road, to no avail relative to re-finding the
flock, and likewise unproductive was the entire southbound stretch of
Weaver Road. Having passed the south end of the sod, we turned around at
Jimenez Road and again re-drove the entire stretch of sod, but no
shorebirds were found. The north end of Weaver Road, though, had been
sufficiently wet and productive of desired grasspipers that after lunch we
returned for a second tour, in case the birds returned.

WEAVER ROAD SOD FIELDS (1:25-1:55 PM): We found shorebirds this time, but
not quite where we had found them on our early tour of Weaver Road. Indeed,
we found no shorebirds at all in the well-watered area (i.e., the west part
of the north end) where they had been seen earlier. Perhaps the area had
become too closely associated with the Peregrine Falcon. Also, it appeared
that this area had received additional irrigation water since our morning
visit; a larger area was now covered with water. That, too, might have been
a factor in the absence of the sought-for species in the original area. On
the other hand, the eastern section of the entire northmost field, which
seemed quite dry and had very short grass, proved productive this time,
albeit not so productive as had, earlier, the western part of the north end
of the sod fields. By this time, the emerging sun, the heat, and the
humidity were challenging, but I persisted for about 30 minutes in trying
to count all the shorebirds in this rather dry-looking, short-grass eastern
part of the northmost sod field. As we watched, the grasspipers foraged
progressively southward, into the wind, as is the wont of such birds in a
stiff wind. Here were our shorebird finds: KILLDEER (2); AMERICAN
GOLDEN-PLOVER (29); and BUFF-BREASTED SANDPIPER (1). Additionally we found
HORNED LARK (3). The earlier Baird’s Sandpiper and Lesser Yellowlegs were
not found on this visit. We surmise, but cannot be sure, that what we found
this time was a remnant of the original flock described earlier, rather
than its consisting of new birds. We drove the remainder of the Weaver Road
sod fields, but no additional birds were found. Somewhat later we headed
for the Progreso sod fields.

PROGRESO SOD FIELDS (SOUTHMOST FIELDS BOTH WEST AND EAST OF TRAVERSAL ROAD)
(approximately 3:30-3:50PM): We drove from the south entry off US-281
northward to the end of the large sod field to the east of the road and
then turned about and headed home. This was an utterly unsuccessful effort,
and both of us felt that it afforded the worst birding we ever had found
there. We did not feel disheartened, though, because we had so much enjoyed
the birds on the Weaver Road sod fields.

Birgit joins me in wishing everyone wonderful spring-migration birding –
Rex Stanford (Weslaco).

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