We started today at Estero Llano Grande. There’s a Wednesday bird walk and we arrived just in time to join. It was rather cold and windy, which presumably kept crowds down. In fact, there were only 2 others on the walk and five park staff/volunteers.
Lots of good stuff from the deck included all 3 teal, some Mottled Ducks, and many Black-necked Stilts. We started down the trails and spent some time waiting for some scaup to stop sleeping (which they did, proving to be Lesser).
The cold got to me (and my father) and we ended up running back to the car for jackets. Passing the feeding station, I found a Ruby-throated Hummingbird and then a big flock of Cedar Waxwings dropped in. The host was quite excited when I mentioned them once I rejoined the group, apparently they’re not very regular down in the valley.
We rejoined the group at the Pauraque stakeout, with one very obvious bird. At Alligator Lake we had a variety of herons including Black-crowned Night-, Little Blue, and Tricolored. There were a few Anhinga around and a single Nutria.
We moved on to the uphill portion of the park. After being warned that the wind would be bad, it turned out to be no worse. The White-tailed Kites sitting nearby and the huge flock of pelicans coming in helped. As did the stilts and avocets and huge number of shovelers.
Once back downhill, the other people had to leave, which left us with a personal tour. We continued around the pond, finding a (presumed) Tropical Kingbird among other things.
I spotted a whitish bird coming over the wooded area and after getting bins on it, the crazy bill revealed it to be a Roseate Spoonbill. Not quite the view I hoped for, but (pending a couple others) this was #500! Finally.
We worked our way back to the visitor’s center and then decided to head out after spending a few minutes at the feeders. The next stop was Frontera Audubon, which was only a few minutes away.
After checking in, we headed down the trail and found the feeding area. Settling in, we enjoyed the large number of Inca Doves and an Ovenbird. Eventually, a large group came in and we got ready to move on. Luckily, right before we did the Tropical Parula put in a very quick appearance.
We walked the rest of the trails, getting lost a couple times. It was fairly quiet, with the main highlights being a large number of perched Turkey Vultures and a Green Kingfisher. We ran into the large group again, who were as lost as we were but eventually we made our way back out.
Next stop was the Wendy’s up the street for lunch and then we began the ride to the coast and South Padre Island. On the way, we got minimal views of White-tailed Hawk but not a whole lot else.
At South Padre, we went straight to the boardwalk. I probably should have dragged the scope but there was enough close stuff to not care too much. Highlights included an active Reddish Egret, a couple Long-billed Curlews, a nice close Spoonbill, many Black Skimmers, and several Caspian Terns (a very overdue lifer). A presumed Couch’s Kingbird was nice as well.
On our way out, we asked the person behind the desk and the cashier about places nearby for food. They gave us several recommendations but when we said we were from Massachusetts, the cashier started telling us how much she loved our new senator. The other staffer tried to get her to move on but she didn’t take the hint. I have no idea why anyone dealing with tourists would think politics was a reasonable subject for conversation.
We ended up staying down the street at a Days Inn, which was perfectly acceptable (other than the supermarket donuts for breakfast). We walked to Blackbeards’ for dinner (apparently named after multiple people), which was quite good.
Tomorrow: Laguna Atascosa