Sabal Palm Sanctuary is the place to go in the valley for Least Grebe this summer. They are easy to see at close/crushable range, and word has it they are nesting as well. The only other places I picked up this ghastly grayling on this trip were Pollywog Pond (Corpus Christi) and Ester Llano Grande (Pharr).
Hello admirers, friends, frenemies, and lurking trolls...I thought it would be prudent to give a quick update from The Road. Suddenly I find myself at the ass end of another field season. I have been pooped out of the bowels of the Lower Rio Grande Valley into the great big toilet of the American West. My exit featured a bird-heavy (and occasionally whiskey-soaked) route from Austin through southeast Arizona, and now I find myself with old friends in Flagstaff. Good birds have abounded this spring, and I am lucky to have survived another productive season without slipping rank in Global Birder Ranking System. I bask in the light of the smiling gods of birding...there is nothing like it.
Except, perhaps, good whiskey.
It was great to see so many Stilt Sandpiper this spring. Crisp breeding plumage birds lie somewhere on the spectrum between Economy of Style and Facemelt. Their appeal does exactly rip your eyes out, but you don't have to look very hard to see it either. They are captivating, in fact. I must find a name for this zone of appearance/appeal. Oh, that's a Lesser Yellowlegs on the right, if you were wondering. Estero Llano Grande WBC, TX.
How about another "Valley Specialty"? Here is a White-tailed Hawk. I had a lot of fun trying to separate these from Swainson's Hawks at great distance, while soaring. My findings? It's not always easy, but at least GBRS gave me some points for the effort. Hidalgo County, TX.
Warblers, like this confiding Blackpoll, really stole the show for me this spring. I never did get the Swainson's I was looking for, but I don't mind needing an excuse to get back to the Gulf Coast in spring! Fuck! South Padre Island, TX.
This Groove-billed Ani was an ABA bird for me. In fact, it was the only one I recorded while I was down there, which is unusual because they are actually fairly common by now. Birding is weird. The ani was sunning itself, shortly after sunrise, in a roadside mesquite. Hidalgo County, TX.
Let's tie it all up with a Least Tern, a bird of Texas and a bird of California, which is where I will be seeing my next one. More coverage from Texas (and southeast Arizona) coming up soon. Such good birding the past few months! A birding hangover is imminent. Photographed at South Padre Island, TX.