Saturday, November 24, 2012

South Texas Farmland

Most birders travel to the lower Rio Grande Valley to bird at iconic locations such as Santa Ana NWR, Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park, and the Sabal Palm Sanctuary.  What most birders don't realize is that just 20 minutes north of the valley there is extensive farmland with some grassland that provides a different suite of birds.  

Sprague's Pipit-SE of Raymondville, within a group of about 10 individuals
Sprague's Pipit-showing the streaky back that camouflages
on most occasions-although not so much at this angle

There are almost endless roads to drive on out through the fields but many (at least at first) appear to be private, or at least not meant for random people driving down them.  However, these roads are the best roads for birding due to their lack of traffic and the habitat that they travel through.  Raptors, including White-tailed Hawk and Harris's Hawk, abound over the fields while pipits, larks, and occasionally longspurs feed in the fields.  Whenever there are some tree lines or woodland edge many more species are possible.

White-tailed Hawk-this one was heading towards me . . . so I thought
I would get a much better photo.  However, it changed it's mind . . . 

Ladder-backed Woodpecker-one of the species that you may see in the
tree lines. 
 The grasslands also bring in more sparrows than the typical parks in the valley.  Sparrows such as Lark and Clay-colored become fairly common and others such as Vesper are here and there.  Of course, Savannah Sparrows are the most common species as they are throughout most of the area.


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