Monday, April 5, 2010

Texas Day 5: Santa Ana NWR

We started our day very early since we had to make a 45 minute drive to Santa Ana NWR. We got to the park before the Visitor Center was open but the gate was open and we were able to start hiking around. One of the first birds that we found was Bronzed Cowbird. A second bird flew in and started displaying. It was quite an amazing sight.

Bronzed Cowbird

We spent the next few hours hiking around the park. We found and photographed many of the commonly occurring species. Here are a couple of my favorites.

Least Grebe

Great Kiskadee

Golden-fronted Woodpecker

After finishing up our hike, we decided to conduct a short hawk watch from the observation tower. After only 30 minutes, we noticed two large raptors flying along the horizon. They flew closer and then landed in a tree quite a ways from the tower. Luckily, we were able to get a scope on one of the perched birds and identify it as a Hook-billed Kite, a lifer for both Eric and I. After finding one of our key species for the trip, we decided to head out of the park for lunch and check out Quinta Mazatlan.

After a completely unsuccessful trip to Quinta Mazatlan, we returned to Santa Ana for the afternoon and evening. We were able to find a Clay-colored Thrush shortly after arriving, which was another lifer for both of us.

After hiking around for awhile, we talked to a couple that had heard that one Fulvous Whistling-Duck at a pond a little bit down the path. Since this was our only chance to add one to our trip list, we hurried down the path and quickly found it in the next pond.

Fulvous Whistling-Duck

We then decided to conduct another hawk watch from the tower. After about an hour, we spotted a Gray Hawk flying around several hundred yards away. It was a great end to the days. We quickly walked back to our car to avoid getting eaten alive by mosquitoes.


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