Lower Rio Grande Valley - November 2008
This trip had been some time in the planning since my mother in law read an article in Sunset Magazine and said she wanted to visit this area.
Flights - SFO to Brownsville via Houston on Continental was excellent. No charge for checked bags and free food! All connections were on time and we arrived BRO at 4:30pm.
Car - rented through Hertz
Accomodation - a lovely B&B called Inn at Chachalaca Bend (www.chachalaca.com), friendly people, a great location for the coast, and no problem providing early breakfasts for us. They have 27 acres of woodland habitat on a Resaca so the birding is good too.
Airport to Hotel
First birds were Killdeer on the runway and Great-tailed Grackle all around the parking lot. We stopped to get our first look at a Harris's Hawk and eagle eyes spotted a Cactus Wren in some bushes at the side of the road. Other suspects included Rock Dove, Starling, Great Egret, Snowy Egret, Great Blue Heron.
At the hotel we wandered the grounds as the sun set and came up with Plain Chachalaca
Our guide Roy Rodriguez picked us up at 7am and we birded the hotel grounds. Green Jay, Summer Tanager, Golden-fronted Woodpecker, Altamira Oriole, Inca Dove, White-winged Dove, Cave Swallow, Black and Yellow-crowned Night-Heron's, Green Heron, Black-bellied Whistling Ducks, Carolina Wren (mexican)Red-winged Blackbird, Great Kiskadee, Wild Turkey, Buff-bellied Hummingbird.
We were asked to help tow someone out of the mud and while trying to do so, we spotted a Green Kingfisher, the Resaca also held Belted Kingfisher, Ringed Kingfisher, Northern Cardinal.
From their we drove to the Boat ramp on 49. A shorebird mecca apparently. On the way we did see Collared Dove. At the boat ramp we saw a terrific number of birds, Western, Least, Stilt Sandpipers, both Dowitchers, Roseate Spoonbill,Osprey, White-tailed Kite, both Pelicans, Double-crested Cormorant, Little Blue Heron, Tricolored Heron, Reddish Egret, Black-bellied and Semipalmated Plovers, Stilts, both Yellowlegs, Willet, LB Curlew,Ruddy Turnstone, Laughing and Ring-billed Gulls, Dunlin, Black Skimmer, American Oystercatcher, Caspian and Forsters Tern.
Next we headed into Brownsville. We dipped on Parrots, but saw Orange-crowned Warbler, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Green Parakeet, Mallard, Anhinga, White Ibis, Lesser Scaup, Wood Stork, Moorhen, Coot, White-tipped Dove, Eastern Phoebe, Tropical Kingbird, Northern Mockingbird, Wilsons Warbler, Eastern Meadowlark, House Sparrow
Heading back to the coast we took FM 511 to look for Aplomado Falcon. We found Kestrel, Loggerhead Shrike, Aplomado Falcon, Neotropic Cormorant.
On to South Padre Island Convention Center, where we had a nice mixed flock in the migrant trap there, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Grey Catbird, Black-throated Green, Lincolns Sparrow, House Wren, Blue-headed Vireo. Scoping the mud we came up with, Marbled Godwit, Sanderling, Royal Tern, Sandwich Tern
Roy picked us up at 6:30am and we headed over to Estero Llano. In the ponds we added, Mallard, Mottled Duck, all 3 Teals, Shoveler, Least and Pied-billed Grebe, Northern Harrier, Coopers Hawk, Sora, Avocet, Common Ground-dove, Common Pauraque, Vermillion Flycatcher, Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, Couch's Kingbird, Lark Sparrow, Curve-billed Thrasher, Hooded Oriole. We dipped on the Rose-throated Becard.
Then we headed to Andalzua Park after lunch and found a nice flock containing, Ladder-backed Woodpecker, Yellow-breasted Sapsucker, Northern Beardless Tyrannulet, White-eyed Vireo, Black and White Warbler, Prairie Warbler (a lifer for Roy), Yellow-throated Warbler, Black-crested Titmouse, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Black Vulture, White-tailed Hawk, Gray Hawk, Red-tailed Hawk, Western Meadowlark.
Finally we went over to Bentsen to get a better view of Green Jay at the feeder and we were lucky.
A great trip with an excellent guide. Next time I would devote at least 3 days to the area and stay (assuming I'm travelling alone) in the McAllen area to reduce the driving.
Sounds like a great three days.
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