Date: 4/16/17 5:38 pm From: Mary Beth Stowe <mbstowe...> Subject: [texbirds] Big Day Report
Saturday was my first opportunity to do a Hidalgo County Big Day since 2013, when I logged 138 species for the day. Yesterday (Saturday) I had to work pretty hard to finish up with 119!! Comparing the two, maybe the fact that this one was five days earlier had something to do with it, but migrants this year were few and far between compared to 2013's outing. I changed the route a little as well as I was now living in Alamo as opposed to North McAllen, but the destinations stayed pretty much the same. Without giving a species-by-species blow-by-blow I'll just cover the highlights, as I haven't even had time to look at the pictures yet.
Started pre-dawn at Bentsen with "unique" birds including Pauraque, the three expected owls (including at least four Elf Owls scattered around the route), a cackling Least Bittern at the Resaca, a wailing Gray Hawk, and the normal Valley woodland birds. Dipped on the migrant nightjars and a reported Poorwill, along with the reported Red-billed Pigeons.
The drive along Old Military Highway had my only Blue Grosbeak near the Butterfly Center, plus Bank Swallows chattering along the levee.
Anzalduas had my only Black Phoebe and Cliff Swallows, along with a nice liftoff of Broad-winged Hawks on the way out.
Quinta Mazatlan again had a big event going on, so I skipped that and headed north to Edinburg Wetlands, where I had my only Forster's Terns, Anhinga, and Green Kingfisher of the day (the latter at the South Pond).
The La Sal del Rey Route was next, logging a bunch of unique "open country" things like Caracara, Cassin's and Lark Sparrows, Horned Lark, Pyrrhuloxia, Bobwhite, Roadrunner, Common Ground Dove, Black Vulture, White-tailed Hawk, and the best bird - a male Bullock's Oriole!
Delta Lake Park was good only for a potty stop as I added nothing unique there and the water was too high for shorebirds. Frontera was next, with highlights including the three sole migrants there: Great Crested Flycatcher, Summer Tanager, and the best - a singing Philadelphia Vireo!
That brought me up to 90 and I was sweating it, as even Estero couldn't get me over 100, but with Huck's help added several shorebirds, ducks, and a Ruby-throated Hummingbird; a report of Swainson's Warbler sent me back to the water feature in the Tropical Zone, but all I added was a calling Eastern Wood Pewee.
Progresso Sod Farms saved the day, with #100 being several Upland Sandpipers that another birder cottoned me onto WAY out there! Up the road (and much closer) were all the other expected "grasspipers", including two lovely Buff-bellies! Added bonuses included a flyover Common Nighthawk, a rapidly retreating Groove-billed Ani, and a last-minute White-tailed Kite on the levee! (The levee gate at 88 is closed, I discovered the hard way.)
Last stop was Santa Ana, and added Marsh Wren, White Ibis, and Little Blue Heron as the last birds of the day. It wasn't until I input the birds into BirdBase that I realized that I had mislabeled my paper list (I thought I'd be smart and pre-number the notepad.), and what I though was bird #100 was actually #110! :-/ (The REAL #100 was the Summer Tanager.) Pictures will be up on Facebook when I can get to it. :) Bird List: