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Forgot one of the serendipitous highlights of January 7: As we were returning on TX4, west of the Border Patrol checkpoint, a Chihuahuan Raven flew across the road and landed on a power line. It was the only one we saw this year.
Friday, January 8 was the last full day of birding for us. We began with a long tour of the “home” resaca, with hopes of seeing the elusive Common Black Hawk. Not to be. Instead, we had good looks at a Blue-headed Vireo and the surprise and pleasure of watching 4 Groove-billed Anis in cane beside the sidewalk on University Ave. across from Lincoln Park. As a side note, others later in the day, looking for the anis we reported, saw the #*O*##@//@ hawk—now the definition of nemesis bird.
After a leisurely lunch we went west to Estero Llano Grande SP for an afternoon stroll that produced 48 species. The wind was not strong, but it was enough to keep Green Kingfishers sheltered. Despite all our effort and knowledge of habits and habitat, we left the Valley without a sighting of a Green Kingfisher this trip.
We ended Friday’s birding at the Estero deck waiting for two Lesser Nighthawks that had been reported several evenings. Clare spotted the first one up at 6:09. They were fun to watch, skydancing over the water.
Saturday, January 9 dawned clear and only a bit chilly. We finished packing up and were ready to load the car when the pull for one last round of the resaca took hold. Halfway across the bridge a couple of Great-tailed Grackles atop a distant tree were eye-catching. As the binocs came up to look at them, a big dark blob appeared perched high in a tree near them: Common Black Hawk! What nemesis?
We finished loading the car, made a quick stop for Mexican vanilla, and turned north. Sarita rest stop, with its fascinating restroom tilework, produced the regular Brewer’s Blackbirds at the south end.
With the Valley behind us, we had one more goal to the north of Copano Bay. After a really quick tour of Goose Island SP, we went to Lamar Beach Rd. and began looking for big white blobs. We saw the Sandhills first, then the two Whooping Cranes. We stopped to admire the Big Tree (an ancient Live Oak), then again turned northward toward Waco for the night.
We missed a few species over the course of 11 days—Dusky-capped Flycatcher and Tropical Parula because of limited time to look for them with our focus on other species; Ruddy Ground-dove—just not in the right place at the right time; Green Kingfisher—a real stumper for why. But what beauties we DID see—Anis, Green Jays, Altamira Orioles, that Black Hawk, Harris’s and White-tailed Hawks, Caracaras, Ringed Kingfisher, and so much more, so much fun to watch and hear.
Total species: 174 for the RGV and Aransas Co. extension, plus the Spotted Rail on December 30. Every day brought something new. The weather was, overall, the best I can recall for the late December-early January period in terms of temperatures and minimal precipitation.
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