Sunday, April 5, 2009

Bulletin 74 - Rio Grande Valley TX birds #2

David McDonald Photography
Friendswood Texas
April 5, 2009

Bulletin #74 – Rio Grande Valley, Texas – part 2

Hello friends,

(Note - click on the images to see a full size photo)
(Also - see all of my photos on my
Pbase photo site)

There were a number of Mexican species in the RGV this winter, so I had to make a trip to see them. Also, there is an owl in the valley that I missed last summer, so it was a target of my trip as well.

Saturday afternoon, I went to the Frontera Audubon location in Weslcao, where 2 rare birds were reported. I missed the female Blue Bunting, but finally just before dark, with the help of the director Wayne Bartholomew, I managed to see and photograph the female Crimson-collared Grosbeak (Rhodothraupis celaeno). This was a lifer for me.

Interestingly, she was with this male Rose-breasted Grosbeak (Pheucticus ludovicianus).

Other birds photographed there were Inca Doves (Columbina inca). Here is the best photo I have obtained of this species with the scaly looking plumage well seen. The Inca Dove has bright rufous wing linings that I was also able to finally capture in a photograph.

A Buff-bellied Hummingbird (Amazilla yucatanensis) was very tame and came to feeders within 10-15 feet, as I sat on a bench. This is the same species that spent the winter in my backyard, but this is the best photo.

Sunday morning, I went to Salineno to try and photograph the Muscovy Ducks and Red-billed Pigeons. They were just too far away across the river for a good photo. Then I went to Falcon State Park as 2 species of quail were coming to the photo blind, but I was ½ hour too late.

However, I did get this photo of a male Brown-headed Cowbird (Molothrus ater) showing his iridescent plumage in the sun.

I went back to Salineno to the GCBO site where they feed the birds just back from the Rio Grande. What a treat that was! I had the place to myself and the birds were numerous and very active coming to seed feeders, fruit, water etc.

Here is an Altamira Oriole (Icterus gularis). He was too close to get him all in!

The next bird is the Audubon’s Oriole (Icterus graduacauda). This was only my second view ever of this species.

A Great Kiskadee (Pitangus sulphuratus) in the sun is always worth a photo.

Here is my best photo ever of a male Golden-fronted Woodpecker (Melanerpes aurifrons). The colors on the head with the yellow above the beak, red crown patch and yellow on the back of the neck are clearly seen. The female (below right) is lacking the red patch.


Lastly, I photographed a Long-billed Thrasher (Toxostoma longirostre).

From there, I drove all the way back to the coast to Laguna Atascosa again to try and find the Blue Bunting (Cyanocompsa parellina). I saw both the male and female, but was only able to get a shot of the male. What a stunning bird he is with a dark blue body and sky blue head! He was a lifer.

Another bird at Laguna Atascosa was the Olive Sparrow (Arremonops rufivirgatus). This is my best photo yet of this species. The olive back is obvious.

The last bird was a Blue-headed Vireo (Vireo solitarius). The hooked beak of a vireo can be seen.


I spent at least another 2 hours in the area looking for an Aplomado Falcon, but was once again skunked.

All comments and suggestions are welcomed and appreciated.

Happy birding and photography,
David McDonald
photos copyright 2009 David McDonald
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