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Texas Lower RGV, Apr 15-19, 04

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Old Monday 24th May 2004, 20:07   #1
Michael W
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Texas Lower RGV, Apr 15-19, 04

Well, Iím a little late getting this report done, but here it is. My dad, my aunt, and I went on a 5-day trip to the Texas Rio Grande Valley and the southern coast. It was an awesome trip!!!!!!! We saw 181 species, including 52 lifers for me. We arrived in Harlingen about an hour before sundown on April 15 and started our birding there. Unfortunately, the trip had to end sometime, and we left again on the plane about noon, April 19. A good bonus to the trip was a 3 1/2 hour lay-over in Houston on the way down. We took the taxi to a nearby county park and saw some good birds there as well.

Places visited were: Jesse H. Jones County Park, Harlingen, Zapata, Salineno, El Rio RV Park, Falcon Dam SP, Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley SP, Santa Ana NWR, Brownsville Sanitary Landfill, South Padre Island, Laguna Atascosa, McAllen Sewer Ponds, and the Frontera Audubon House in Weslaco. The trip was complete with chigger bites and mosquito bites, despite heavy use of bug spray.

Here are the wonderful birds that we saw. The lifers are marked with asterisks.

Least Grebe*
Pied-billed Grebe
American White Pelican
Brown Pelican
Great Blue Heron
Great Egret
Reddish Egret
Tricolored Heron
Little Blue Heron
Snowy Egret
Cattle Egret
Green Heron
Black-crowned Night-Heron
Yellow-crowned Night Heron
Least Bittern*
White Ibis
White-faced Ibis
Roseate Spoonbill
Black-bellied Whistling-Duck*
Muscovy Duck*
American Wigeon
Gadwall
Mallard
Mottled Duck
Blue-winged Teal
Northern Shoveler
Ruddy Duck
Black Vulture
Turkey Vulture
Osprey
Hook-billed Kite*
White-tailed Kite
Mississippi Kite*
Sharp-shinned Hawk
Cooperís Hawk
Harrisís Hawk*
Gray Hawk
Broad-winged Hawk
Swainsonís Hawk
White-tailed Hawk*
Crested Caracara
Peregrine Falcon
Plain Chachalaca*
Northern Bobwhite*
Clapper Rail*
Sora*
Common Moorhen
American Coot
Black-necked Stilt
American Avocet
American Golden-Plover*
Black-bellied Plover
Semipalmated Plover
Wilsonís Plover
Killdeer
Piping Plover
Snowy Plover*
Short-billed Dowitcher
Whimbrel
Long-billed Curlew
Lesser Yellowlegs
Solitary Sandpiper
Spotted Sandpiper
Willet
Ruddy Turnstone
Sanderling
Semipalmated Sandpiper
Western Sandpiper
Least Sandpiper
Bairdís Sandpiper*
Dunlin
Stilt Sandpiper*
Wilsonís Phalarope
Ring-billed Gull
Laughing Gull
Franklinís Gull
Gull-billed Tern*
Caspian Tern
Royal Tern
Sandwich Tern
Common Tern
Forsterís Tern
Least Tern*
Black Skimmer
Rock Pigeon
Red-billed Pigeon*
Mourning Dove
White-winged Dove
Common Ground-Dove
Inca Dove
White-tipped Dove*
Green Parakeet*
Red-crowned Parrot*
Yellow-billed Cuckoo
Groove-billed Ani*
Greater Roadrunner
Eastern Screech-Owl
Great Horned Owl
Elf Owl*
Lesser Nighthawk
Common Nighthawk
Pauraque*
Chimney Swift
Buff-bellied Hummingbird*
Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Belted Kingfisher
Ringed Kingfisher*
Green Kingfisher*
Golden-fronted Woodpecker*
Ladder-backed Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Northern Beardless-Tyrannulet*
Sayís Phoebe
Vermillion Flycatcher
Ash-throated Flycatcher
Great Crested Flycatcher
Brown-crested Flycatcher*
Great Kiskadee*
Couchís Kingbird*
Western Kingbird
Eastern Kingbird
Scissor-tailed Flycatcher*
Purple Martin
Tree Swallow
Northern Rough-winged Swallow
Cliff Swallow
Cave Swallow*
Barn Swallow
Marsh Wren
Northern Mockingbird
Long-billed Thrasher*
Curve-billed Thrasher
Clay-colored Robin*
Carolina Chickadee
Tufted Titmouse
Black-crested Titmouse*
Verdin
Loggerhead Shrike
Green Jay*
Brown Jay*
Chihuahuan Raven*
European Starling
White-eyed Vireo*
Red-eyed Vireo
Blue-winged Warbler*
Tennessee Warbler*
Nashville Warbler
Northern Parula*
Tropical Parula*
Black-throated Green Warbler
Pine Warbler
Blackpoll Warbler
Black-and-white Warbler
Prothonotary Warbler*
Northern Waterthrush*
Louisiana Waterthrush*
Common Yellowthroat
Hooded Warbler
Summer Tanager
Olive Sparrow*
Lark Sparrow
Black-throated Sparrow
Savanna Sparrow
Grasshopper Sparrow
Lincolnís Sparrow*
Northern Cardinal
Pyrrhuloxia
Indigo Bunting
Red-winged Blackbird
Eastern Meadowlark
Great-tailed Grackle
Bronzed Cowbird
Brown-headed Cowbird
Altamira Oriole*
Hooded Oriole
Bullockís Oriole
Orchard Oriole
Baltimore Oriole
Lesser Goldfinch
House Sparrow

We also heard but didn't see some birds. Both would have been lifers...
Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl
Chuck-will's-widow

If you have never been to the Rio Grande Valley, I highly recommend the place!

Good birding,
Michael
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Last edited by Michael W : Thursday 27th May 2004 at 02:29.
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Old Monday 24th May 2004, 20:17   #2
Dave B Smith
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Michael,
Looks like a fantastic trip! You must have done a lot of pre-planning to get all those in just 3 1/2 days of actual birdwatching. Well done.
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Old Monday 24th May 2004, 23:26   #3
Michael W
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Thanks Dave. And yes, my dad did a ton of planning, and I'm glad he did! Of course I helped a little bit...
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Old Wednesday 26th May 2004, 21:19   #4
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Hi Michael,
You certainly did get a good haul of birds on your trip - I don't have my list for the RGV handy at the moment, but I know it wasn't as big as yours! I agree with your comment that the Rio Grande Valley is definitely worth a visit. We went for the first time last November, when we attended the 10th Annual Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival. We took organised field trips to some of the places you mention and we've also been to the Jesse H Jones County Park just north of Houston, several times. It is definitely a good spot for birders who have a long enough lay-over at Bush Intercontinental Airport.

I wish someone had warned me about "chiggers" before I went. The bites are much more irritating than mosquito bites!!
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Old Thursday 27th May 2004, 03:54   #5
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A little info on mosquito and chiggers that might help someone in the future. Mosquitos are very familiar to everyone so not much new here, insect repellent works reasonably well, they can bite through one layer of clothing, and they really can get you when you're sleeping. But did you know if you can scrub a mosquito bite within about 20 to 30 minutes of being bitten with a rough cloth and soap (or even saliva) it won't swell, won't itch and won't even show the next day. No joke, try it.

Chiggers or "red bugs" don't actually just leave a "bite", it's worse! Since you can't hardly see them, and can't feel them on you or "biting" you can't take any immediate action. They are actually a small mite. They get on you from brushing up against a plant, Spanish moss, etc or just from falling on you from an overhanging tree. Then as they work their way down to finding some bare skin (shirt collars, trouser waistline, or socks) they start doing their thing. They actually bite into your skin and then hang on and start eating (not just a bite). They eat till they are full and then fall off (about 4 days). The swelling that you get lasts about 6 to 8 days and itches. Putting nail polish on it just helps keep from aggravating it, doesn't really make it better. Best solution is prevention: wear long sleeves /long pants, put repellent on these areas of your clothes (socks, waist, neckline), try not to make too much contact with brush, etc., and then wash up. By scrubbing down real well when you get back and also washing your clothes in HOT water you will lessen the chance of getting more bites.

Here's a link with some info on Chiggers

Hope this helps y'all enjoy your birdwatching more in the South and Southwest.
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Old Thursday 27th May 2004, 09:23   #6
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Thanks,Dave,very interesting information;I'll certainly try the tip on mosquito bites the next time.
Another one I heard recently was that if you ate Marmite before going out,the mossies will avoid you...haven't tried it yet.

(for anyone who hasn't heard of Marmite,it is a yeast extract,sold as a blackish coloured spread and put on toast/bread.)
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