TX 2010: Days 0 and 1

Feb 6

Today was mostly a travel day. We left for the airport a little before 6. Other than the taxi driver being too busy talking to actually get on the pike, no issues getting to the airport and then getting through security. Both my mother and I got patted down and I had my boots taken for extra scanning (they were back by the time I got my wallet and watch and stuff back together so it wasn’t even a slight inconvenience).

The flight to Dallas was right on time (after some initial delays while they fixed the coffee machine). We had just enough time to grab food before the brief flight to San Antonio. Our bags were off the baggage claim quickly and it didn’t take too long for the rental car (though upcoming logistics post). First birds were Great-tailed Grackles waiting for the shuttle.

Like last time, I got a bit lost leaving and ended up circling around a little bit before I found the right highway. Ten minutes later, we pulled up to our friend Jack’s house.

After a few minutes to relax, we headed out to get a tour of San Antonio. After a bit of driving around, we went to walk around the riverwalk and some nearby areas. We parked on a fairly empty street, put a bit of time on the meter, and started off when a truck with some sort of tourist board logo stopped. A woman hopped out and told us that there were lots of break-ins to cars in the area. We immediately got back in and moved to a parking lot.

The riverwalk and surrounding area was fun, it reminded me a lot of the Faneuil Hall area but with a southwestern feel. We stopped outside the Alamo for pictures and then ended up walking through. It was small but more interesting than we expected.

After checking out a nearby indoor market, we decided to head to the Outback near Jack’s house for dinner. We ended up getting completely lost on the way back to the highway and I had to pull the gps out to get us back. Once at the restaurant, we were told the wait was about an hour (it was rodeo week). I think it was closer to 40 minutes. The food was decent as expected. There was a big grackle roost right outside the restaurant and the noise was quite entertaining. A short ride back and we were ready for bed.

Feb 7

Today started with a leisurely start. After breakfast, we went to the grocery store (an HEB) for snacks and other supplies. Jack then took us on a walk around his neighborhood. There were quite a few birds around including a presumed Golden-fronted Woodpecker and my first Texas Blue Jays, American Robin, and Cedar Waxwings.

A little before noon, we loaded up the car and headed south. I had originally planned to head for Aransas first and then work our way south but with the Amazon Kingfisher report, I decided that we were better off heading for Laredo and looping around that way.

Our first stop, however, was off the highway in Frio County. Mountain Plovers had been reported on TEXBIRDS and they appeared to be not too far off the route. Just when I thought we had managed to miss the turn, we found highway 57. The first field was a few miles down but the birds were supposed to be distant and we didn’t see the exact spot, so we continued to the second listed field figuring we could backtrack if needed.

There was no need. As soon as we pulled up to the second field at the intersection of 57 and 140 (field was on 57, west of 140), we could see many plovers. Jumping out, I set up the scope and we had excellent looks at several birds. I snapped a few mediocre photos and we continued (it was starting to drizzle a bit).

Mountain Plovers

We continued on towards Laredo, making a quick stop to eat some of the food we had bought earlier. We reached Zacate Creek a little after 3PM. After moving to the closer parking lot, we began to explore a bit. Unfortunately, the Amazon Kingfisher had moved on (or somewhere else) but we did have a few good birds including feeding Osprey and Neotropic Cormorant, Great Kiskadees, and our only White-faced Ibis of the trip.

Osprey w/Fish


We spent a few minutes talking to some of the other birders (one born in Waltham(!)) and got some good information on some of the birds down in the valley. We also learned that the Roadside Hawk was no more but that a new one had been seen in Falcon State Park. Two Ringed Kingfishers flew overhead. They didn’t land but we still had good views.

After an hour or so, we headed out to Zapata. We reached the Holiday Inn Express just about in time for kickoff (it was the Super Bowl) but had to run out to get subs for dinner. We saw some of the first half and the entire second half. The hotel seemed to have gone downhill from last year, with screaming kids audible for most of the night and just a general off feel.

Tomorrow: Falcon, Salineno, Santa Ana.