TX 2010: Day 3

Feb 9

Today got off to an earlier start as we wanted to be at Bentsen for the 8AM feeding as the Rose-throated Becard was most regular at that time. We arrived a few minutes before 8 to find the visitor center closed. We went to the self-pay station and were walking in when the volunteer at the gatehouse started yelling at us to go back. Apparently the self-pay and the new wristband regulations haven’t quite synched up but eventually we got things straightened out.

We sat down outside the gatehouse and were told that the becard would likely be in as soon as the food was brought out. I looked up and it was sitting there waiting. Unfortunately it was too dark (and windy) for photos and the ones that I took were blurred to the point of showing two birds.

We continued to watch the show and soon had a Clay-colored Thrush pop in.

Texas Trio

Eventually the light improved somewhat and I got some passable shots of the becard:


There was also a Fox Squirrel. I had only seen one up in the trees last year and didn’t realize how colorful they are

Fox Squirrel

By now a crowd was assembling and the bird walk was due to arrive at any moment, so we headed into the park. At the next set of feeders, a single javelina was feeding. We spent a few minutes watching as it was one of the things my father most wanted to see.

Moving on, we got to the boat ramp and found the wind to be way too much to be anywhere in the open. We quickly went to the blind. There were plenty of birds coming in to the water here including several orioles, White-tipped Dove, a Golden-fronted Woodpecker, and a Rose-breasted Grosbeak.


There was also a female cardinal that had a couple loose feathers, showing the pink base to them.


We then walked out to the hawk tower (stopping at the Forbes’ Silk Moth sign). It was too windy to stay at the tower, so we started to walk back. After a bathroom stop, we checked the Acacia Trail feeders and watched a Blue-headed Vireo, an Olive Sparrow, and several buntings.


We worked our way out (stopping to check the feeders and not finding anything different) and headed off to our next stop.

It was only about 20 minutes to Quinta Mazatlan, home of the Crimson-collared Grosbeak. After mistaking the bathroom for the office, we got vague directions to the bird and headed to the amphitheater. The first person there said they hadn’t seen that but there might be a Ladder-backed Woodpecker around. I took that as a sign that we may need more directions and went to pay the admission and find out exactly where the bird was.

The person at the desk told us that it has been hanging out by the pond. We headed over and sat down (after realizing the water feature the size of a birdbath was actually the pond). An Orange-crowned Warbler came in to the oranges but there wasn’t much else around (an Accipiter passing through didn’t help).


I eventually started wandering around a bit and found a Curve-billed Thrasher. When I went back, I found someone telling my parents that they have no idea why the desk keeps sending people here and that the bird is towards the other end of the estate. We started to head over (I made a stop for a thrasher photo first).


And a Chachalaca crossing the path:

Road crossing

We reached the spot and found out that the bird had just disappeared. After giving it a few minutes, we started to wander the area a bit figuring that it was looping around. No luck with that, but my mother found the Tropical Parula while off by herself.

I eventually started to loop around again and was halfway through when my phone buzzed with a missed call. I figured the bird must be there and started to pick up the pace. My phone buzzed again and I got there in time to see the bird as it buried itself deep in a bush.

Fortunately, a few seconds later it popped up and sat in the open briefly. Absolutely stunning, an incredible shade of red. The bird dropped back into the bushes and disappeared.



Crimson diving

With the bird gone, we turned to the oranges that the parula had been frequenting, which were all of 30 feet away. We sat down and before long had been joined by about ten people. Ten minutes after arriving the bird dropped in for a brief visit.


With both targets recorded, we headed off for lunch after a quick stop for the Curve-billed Thrashers. I forget exactly what we did for lunch, but McDonald’s sounds right. After lunch, we tried a couple spots on the birding trail list, neither of which was worthwhile. Eventually we ended up at the Valley Nature Center.

At the center, we wandered around a bit before sitting at the feeding station, which had several Buff-bellied Hummingbirds around, some of which actually posed.


We walked all of the trails, which were fairly quiet (Black-and-white Warbler, several Tropical Checkered-Skippers) but it was relaxing. Eventually we headed out to find a hotel. The GPS said there was a Best Western right up the road, so we headed there. I sat in the car while my parents got a room and ended up finding a Peregrine, several Eurasian Collared-Doves, and a bunch of Bronzed Cowbirds.


I also attemped to record some of the Great-tailed Grackle flock although I haven’t checked the quality of the recording yet.

Dinner was at Chili’s, which was surprisingly good.

Tomorrow: Estero Llano Grande, Frontera, and South Padre Island.