Texas Logistics and Lists

Here’s a few notes about the trip (travel, car, hotel, food) and then complete lists of what I saw.


I flew on AirTran from Boston to San Antonio. Although San Antonio was a bit of a drive, round-trip was about $250 and Mission and other nearby airports were all well over $500. I also got a chance to see my friend Jack in San Antonio (although I didn’t actually have time to see the city). AirTran was quite good. I picked it out of several airlines that were all about the same price because it had the best connections. Although I would have liked one more day, by leaving on Friday I had a noon flight where all the weekend flights were at 7AM. I also had a better layover in Atlanta (several hours) compared to barely an hour in either Detroit or Memphis.


I rented the car from Hertz. Although I reserved a Ford Focus, I ended up with a Mazda 6. I have no idea if there was a difference in the cost (the Mazda was more, but the GPS was discounted and this and that) but it was a very nice car. The gas tank was huge and with good mileage I made it almost to Brownsville before I had to fill it (and then only had to fill it again on the way back and a third of a tank to return it full). It had a huge blind spot that took a bit to get used to and I never figured out how to move the wheel so it wasn’t blocking the speedometer. Otherwise no complaints (other than I hit the alarm button every other time I tried to lock the wheel while holding the keys). The cruise control was really nice on the highway (I wish it worked at 5mph so I could scan on side roads without ended up picking up speed).

The GPS worked fairly well. I noted a couple places in the trip report where it had issues, but other than not being able to find the hotel the second night none were major. It was definitely a good thing to have.


The first night in Zapata was at a Holiday Inn Express. I had issues getting the internet to work and didn’t catch on to the pull ring for the shower but otherwise no complaints. As I mentioned in the report, the room had a view of the water which was really nice. In Mission, I stayed at the Hawthorne Suites, which was fairly nice although it was slightly out of the way and I didn’t really need a full suite. In Brownsville I stayed at a La Quinta, which was quite nice. The Best Western that I picked at random in San Benito was not as nice as the others but nothing was really wrong (wireless would have been nice). And back in Mission, I picked another La Quinta which was also very good. Other than the first night (and that may have as I had nothing that needed to go in and can’t remember now), all the rooms had refrigerators.


I didn’t go out of my way for any local food. On the way to Zapata, I pulled off at a truck stop and grabbed a sub. I didn’t really bother with lunch the next day and went to Chili’s for dinner. I stopped at a grocery store for snacks, which included enough for lunch the next day. In Brownsville, I got takeout from Rudy’s, which was fairly good and had enough to save for lunch. In San Benito, I tried Whattaburger, which was adequate for fast food. I had lunch at a Wendy’s in Weslaco and then dinner at Tony Roma’s in McAllen. I was able to have leftovers for lunch and then went to a Mary Callender’s in San Antonio.


I bought an Asus EeePc for the trip. It worked out beautifully. Small enough to pack it in my backpack with everything (scope, camera, binocs, etc) but it’s a regular pc. I was able to check email every night and download photos. The keyboard takes a bit to get used to (pretty much every time you pick it up) but otherwise there’s nothing I can really complain about. For $320, it’s well worth it and will be very good on future trips.

Species lists below.

Species Lists

The following are lists of what I was able to identify. Bird and dragonfly lifers are bold, almost all of the butterflies were, so it would be pointless to label them.

Birds (118+2)

  • Fulvous Whistling-Duck – good-sized flock at Estero Llano Grande
  • Wood Duck – 3 at Resaca de la Palma
  • Gadwall – several at Santa Ana, Sabal Palm, and Bentsen (and a few on the Mexican side at Salineno)
  • American Wigeon – several at Salineno on both sides of the river
  • Mottled Duck – flyby at Santa Ana, 4 at Resaca, about 8 at the ponds by LRGV NWR (presumably I’ve seen them in Florida and just didn’t ID them)
  • Blue-winged Teal – present at just about every pond
  • Cinnamon Teal – 1 at Estero, 3 at LRGV NWR
  • Northern Shoveler – present at most ponds
  • Northern Pintail – a few at Sabal Palm and LRGV NWR
  • Green-winged Teal – present at most ponds
  • Plain Chachalaca – found at most appropriate sites including Santa Ana, Bentsen, Sabal Palm, and Estero
  • Least Grebe – present at just about every pond (including some flooded spots on the side of the road near LRGV NWR)
  • Pied-billed Grebe – present at most ponds
  • American White Pelican – a few in Zapata and Falcon and a big flock at Estero
  • Neotropic Cormorant – a few in the Zapata/Falcon area but most cormorants (including one flock of several hundred) were too far away for me to ID
  • Double-crested Cormorant – several at Estero and see comments about the large numbers at Falcon under Neotropic
  • Anhinga – present at most of the lower valley sites including Resaca, Sabal Palm, Estero, and Bentsen
  • Great Blue Heron – present at several sites
  • Great Egret – present at most water
  • Snowy Egret – present at several sites
  • Little Blue Heron – 4 at Estero
  • Tricolored Heron – 3 at Estero
  • Cattle Egret – 4 at Estero, scattered flyovers and along highways elsewhere
  • White Ibis – 4 young birds at LRGV NWR
  • White-faced Ibis – flock at the hotel in Zapata and 2 at Estero
  • Black Vulture – 2 on the highway in Zapata, 3 at Resaca
  • Turkey Vultures – everywhere
  • Osprey – singles at Zapata, Falcon, and Sabal Palm
  • White-tailed Kite – one or more birds at Resaca, one or two at Estero
  • Northern Harrier – one at Resaca
  • Sharp-shinned Hawk – one at Salineno (several small Accipiter type birds elsewhere)
  • Harris’s Hawk – at several locations including Santa Ana and Estero
  • Red-shouldered Hawk – singles at most locations south of Falcon
  • Red-tailed Hawk – 1 at LRGV NWR, many along Rt. 281
  • Crested Caracara – all along the highways and at Falcon, Resaca, and LRGV NWR
  • American Kestrel – on almost every power line along the highways, large falcon flying by leaving Bentsen the last day as well
  • Sora – 2 at Estero
  • Common Moorhen – many at Santa Ana, Resaca, Estero, and LRGV NWR
  • American Coot – at most ponds in good numbers
  • Killdeer – at Zapata Boat Ramp, Resaca, and LRGV NWR
  • Black-necked Stilt – many at Estero, 1 at Bentsen
  • American Avocet – many at Estero
  • Greater Yellowlegs – at Estero and LRGV NWR
  • Lesser Yellowlegs – at Estero and Bentsen
  • Solitary Sandpiper – 4 at Resaca
  • Spotted Sandpiper – 1 at Salineno and a couple at Estero
  • Long-billed Curlew – 3 flying over the entrance road to Resaca and a couple flyovers leaving Bentsen
  • Least Sandpiper – many at Estero and Bentsen
  • Stilt Sandpiper – 3+ at Bentsen
  • Long-billed Dowitcher – many at Estero and Bentsen
  • Wilson’s Snipe – 3+ at LRGV NWR
  • Laughing Gull – 4+ at the Zapata Boat Ramp
  • Ring-billed Gull – 1 at the hotel in Zapata
  • Herring Gull – 1 at the hotel in Zapata
  • Rock Pigeon – all over the highways and towns
  • Eurasian Collared-Dove – several in the Zapata/San Ygnacio area
  • Mourning Dove – all over
  • White-winged Dove – at Salineno, Santa Ana, and Bentsen
  • Inca Dove – at Salineno and Estero
  • Common Ground-Dove – at most sites from Falcon to Estero
  • White-tipped Dove – at Salineno, Bentsen, and Estero
  • Greater Roadrunner – 1 at Santa Ana
  • Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl – 1 at Bentsen, probably the highlight of the trip
  • Common Pauraque – several staked out at Estero
  • Buff-bellied Hummingbird – 1 at Estero
  • Black-chinned Hummingbird – 1 at Estero plus one other hummingbird
  • Ringed Kingfisher – on along the side of 83 near La Joya
  • Belted Kingfisher – at Falcon, Santa Ana, and Estero
  • Green Kingfisher – 2 at Estero
  • Golden-fronted Woodpecker – all over from Salineno south
  • Ladder-backed Woodpecker – at several sites from Salineno on
  • Least Flycatcher – 1 at Resaca
  • Eastern Phoebe – at most sites from Bentsen to Sabal Palm
  • Vermilion Flycatcher – at the hotel in Zapata, Falcon, and Estero
  • Great Kiskadee – at just about every stop
  • Myiarchus sp – 1 at Resaca
  • Tropical Kingbird – 1 at Estero
  • Couch’s Kingbird – 1 at Sabal Palm (and likely 1 at Santa Ana, several silent kingbirds at Santa Ana and Resaca)
  • Loggerhead Shrike – 1 at Falcon, 1 at LRGV NWR
  • White-eyed Vireo – at most locations
  • Blue-headed Vireo – 2+ at Resaca
  • Green Jay – at most locations
  • Chihuahuan Raven – 3 along 83 near Zapata
  • Tree Swallow – 1 at Estero
  • Cave Swallow – big flock at Santa Ana, few at Estero and Bentsen
  • Black-crested Titmouse – at most locations
  • Cactus Wren – several at Falcon, 1 at Santa Ana
  • Carolina Wren – several at Santa Ana
  • House Wren – at several locations
  • Ruby-crowned Kinglet – at most locations
  • Blue-gray Gnatcatcher – at most locations
  • Clay-colored Robin – 6 at Santa Ana
  • Northern Mockingbird – at most locations
  • Long-billed Thrasher – at most locations
  • European Starling – all over
  • American Pipit – 20 at Falcon, 2 at Estero
  • Orange-crowned Warbler – everywhere
  • Nashville Warbler – 1 at Resaca, 1 at Bentsen
  • Yellow-rumped Warbler – everywhere, all I saw appeared to be Myrtle
  • Black-throated Green Warbler – 2+ at Resaca
  • Black-and-white Warbler – 1 at Resaca
  • Common Yellowthroat – at most places with water
  • Wilson’s Warbler – 1 at Resaca
  • Olive Sparrow – all over at Santa Ana, Resaca, and Bentsen at least
  • Chipping Sparrow – several at Salineno
  • Lark Sparrow – big flock along the entrance road at Falcon, couple at Resaca
  • Savannah Sparrow – several at Estero
  • Song Sparrow – 1 at Falcon
  • Lincoln’s Sparrow – all over
  • Northern Cardinal – at most sites
  • Pyrrhuloxia – many at Falcon
  • Red-winged Blackbird – all over
  • Meadowlark sp – many along the sides of the roads
  • Great-tailed Grackle – all over, probably the most common bird of the trip
  • Brown-headed Cowbird – huge flock at Falcon, few at Salineno
  • Altamira Oriole – 1 at hotel in Zapata, present at most sites from Salineno to Resaca
  • Audubon’s Oriole – 2 at Salineno
  • House Finch – couple at Zapata boat ramp
  • American Goldfinch – couple heard flying over at Sabal Palm
  • House Sparrow – at Salineno and Estero

Dragonflies (14)

  • Rainpool Spreadwing (Lestes forficula) – 1 male at Sabal Palm
  • Blue-ringed Dancer (Argia sedula) – 1 at Bentsen
  • Familiar Bluet (Enallagma civile) – at several sites from Falcon to Resaca
  • Rambur’s Forktail (Ischnura ramburii) – at Falcon, Bentsen, and Resaca
  • Common Green Darner (Anax junius) – at Resaca and Estero
  • Turquoise-tipped Darner (Rhionaeschna psilus) – 1-2 males at Resaca
  • Pin-tailed Pondhawk (Erythemis plebeja) – all over at Sabal Palm
  • Band-winged Dragonlet (Erythrodiplax umbrata) – several sites from Falcon to Sabal Palm
  • Straw-colored Sylph (Macrothemis inacuta) – 1 male at Falcon
  • Roseate Skimmer (Orthemis ferruginea) – 1 male at Sabal Palm
  • Wandering Glider (Pantala flavescens) – 1 at Falcon
  • Variegated Meadowhawk (Sympetrum corruptum) – at Resaca and Sabal Palm
  • Red Saddlebags (Tramea onusta) – all over, most common ode of the trip (one possible Black Saddlebags at Sabal Palm as well)

Butterflies (40)

There were quite a few skippers at Resaca and Sabal Palm that I didn’t really attempt to identify. Most of the Bentsen ones were on the butterfly walk, I probably wouldn’t have gotten half of them on my own.

  • Brown Longtail (Urbanus procne) – several at Santa Ana, Bentsen, and Sabal Palm
  • White-patched Skipper (Chiomara georgina) – Bentsen
  • Sickle-winged Skipper (Eantis tamenund) – Bentsen
  • White Checkered-Skipper (Pyrgus albescens) – Falcon and Bentsen
  • Tropical Checkered-Skipper (Pyrgus oileus) – Bentsen and Resaca
  • Laviana White-Skipper (Heliopetes laviana) – Santa Ana and Bentsen
  • Fawn-spotted Skipper (Cymaenes trebius) – Bentsen
  • Eufala Skipper (Lerodea eufala) – Bentsen
  • Clouded Skipper (Lerema accius) – Bentsen
  • Fiery Skipper (Hylephila phyleus) – LRGV NWR
  • Common Mellana (Quasimellana eulogius) – Bentsen
  • Dainty Sulphur (Nathalis iole) – Falcon
  • Sleepy Orange (Abaeis nicippe) – Falcon
  • Little Yellow (Pyrisitia lisa) – Falcon and Bentsen
  • Southern Dogface (Zerene cesonia) – Bentsen
  • Large Orange Sulphur (Phoebis agarithe) – Bentsen
  • Checkered White (Pontia protodice) – Falcon, Bentsen, Resaca
  • Great Southern White (Ascia monuste) – Bentsen
  • Silver-banded Hairstreak (Chlorostrymon simaethis) – Bentsen
  • Dusky-blue Groundstreak (Calycopis isobeon) – Bentsen and Resaca
  • Mallow Scrub-Hairstreak (Strymon istapa) – Falcon and Bentsen
  • Clytie Ministreak (Ministrymon clytie) – Bentsen
  • Cyna Blue (Zizula cyna) – Bentsen
  • Reakirt’s Blue (Echinargus isola) – Falcon and Bentsen
  • Fatal Metalmark (Calephelis nemesis) – Falcon and Bentsen
  • Red-bordered Metalmark (Caria ino) – Bentsen
  • American Snout (Libytheana carinenta – Santa Ana and Bentsen
  • Queen (Danaus gilippus) – Falcon, Bentsen, and Estero
  • Gulf Fritillary (Agraulis vanillae) – Falcon
  • Julia (Dryas iulia) – Sabal Palm
  • Zebra (Heliconius charithonia) – Santa Ana and Bentsen
  • American Lady (Vanessa virginiensis) – LRGV NWR
  • Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta) – Falcon and Bentsen
  • White Peacock (Anartia jatrophae) – Bentsen and Resaca
  • Common Buckeye (Junonia coenia) – LRGV NWR
  • Texas Crescent (Anthanassa texana) – Falcon
  • Chestnut Crescent (Anthanassa argentea) – Bentsen
  • Vesta Crescent (Phyciodes graphica) – Bentsen
  • Phaon Crescent (Phyciodes phaon) – Bentsen
  • Carolina Satyr (Hermeuptychia sosybius) – Bentsen, Resaca, Sabal Palm