Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Salineno to Falcon - March 18

As you drive north from the tropical forests along the Rio Grande at McAllen to the deserts around Falcon Reservoir the bird life changes drastically. Birds you were watching just an hour ago disappear while a whole new suite of birds including Ash-throated Flycatcher, Pyrrhuloxia, and Cassin's Sparrow appear.

Rio Grande
The Rio Grande at Salineno.

We started the day off at Salineno, a small town with good views of the Rio Grande, to look for a couple specialty species that occur along this part of the river. For the best chance to see Muscovy Duck and Red-billed Pigeon you have to arrive before sunrise. Both of these species tend to fly along the river early in the morning and the Red-billed Pigeon even perches on an island that is visible from this point of access. After about 30 minutes we spotted a Red-billed Pigeon perched on the island and we were all able to have short views of the bird before it flew off. After another 5 minutes we spotted a bird flying towards us. There aren't too many completely black duck-like birds other than the Muscovy and cormorants. As it became more than a speck down the river, it was apparent that this was a Muscovy. Eventually it flew directly over our heads, allowing great looks.

Muscovey Duck

After seeing both of our target birds we headed just up the road to an awesome bird feeding station that is run by volunteers. As soon as we got close to the feeders we were able to pick out our first Hooded Oriole of the trip. During the winter a couple of people live in a camper next to the feeding station to run the extensive feeder set up. They were very helpful and helped pass the time as we waited for an Audubon's Oriole to come in. After about 30 minutes our first adult male Hooded Oriole came in which was quickly followed by our first Audubon's Oriole. This is definitely one of the most beautiful birds in the States. After getting our fill of the oriole we decided it was time to head north to the desert.

Audubon's and Hooded Orioles

As soon as we arrived at the entrance road to Falcon State Park we were able to see a few new trip birds. Within minutes we had seen Pyrrhuloxia, Cactus Wren, Ash-throated Flycatcher, and Cassin's Sparrow. The rest of the day we enjoyed hiking around the desert trails and watching the many feeders throughout the park. We were able to have great views of Black-throated and Cassin's Sparrows. The Cassin's Sparrows would even come into the feeders and we were able to get great views of one that enjoyed the shade under one of the RVs. During the heat of the day we drove to Zapata for lunch. On our drive on the back roads we were able to see our only Lark Buntings of the trip.

Male and Female Pyrrhuloxia

We finished the day up back at Falcon State Park, where we were able to add our only Scaled Quail of the trip.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wow, fantastic birds! I've never been to Falcon SP, but you definitely make me want to go sometime!

Amy Kearns