Saturday, May 4, 2024

Texas Part 2 (07Apr2024)

Day 2 of my Texas trip started at Resaca de la Palma State Park. 

Couch's Kingbird seems to have been more common here than Tropical.

Baltimore Oriole

White-tipped Dove

Black-and-white Warbler

Orange-crowned Warbler

I was kind of shocked at the abundance of Nashville Warblers here, they were everywhere.

Black-crested Titmouse

Green Jay

Olive Sparrow

Clay-colored Thrush

I didn't manage any good pics of the Buff-bellied Hummingbird, so this will have to do.

A more dry Nashville.

I think I got a brief look at the Varied Bunting that had been visiting the feeders, but I only was able to photograph Indigo Buntings.

White-winged Dove

Bronzed Cowbirds

Altamira Oriole

After several hours of getting destroyed by bugs and sweating my ass off, I finally decided to go for the bird that I knew would be a slam dunk, the long-staying Cattle Tyrant in downtown Corpus Christi..  The drive was about two hours but it was tough because there were hundreds of Scissor-tailed Flycatchers lining the highway and I kept getting distracted.  I finally gave up trying to ignore them and pulled over for an impromptu photo shoot.

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher

I was trying to get a decent flight shot but failed miserably.

For some reason I initially thought the Cattle Tyrant stakeout spot was in a more rural area, so I was kind of shocked to find out it was downtown right in the midst of a bunch of loud spring break type bars with drunk people everywhere.  Apparently it had been hanging out on a big blue dumpster behind an Oyster Bar catching flies that were swarming around all the discarded oyster shells.  However, it was nowhere to be seen when I showed up in the hottest part of the day.  So I walked around looking for it, but was quickly getting frustrated as it was literally the worst place to bird with all the spring breakers looking at me funny with my big lens.  It took almost an hour but finally it came to its perch on the big blue dumpster.

Cattle Tyrant - such a weird place for this rarity.  

The normal Cattle Tyrant range.  Note the orange dot in south texas.  I think they colored it orange because they are still discussing provenance.  Some people think it could have been a ship-assisted bird.

That was fun while it lasted but I was ready to get out of there.  Corpus Cristi kind of reminds me of Myrtle Beach, which is another spring break town that I don't like.  Sure, maybe there are redeeming parts of them, but generally it's not my scene.

The plan at that point was to drive 2 hours north to San Antonio to stay for the night and then head to a state park to watch the Eclipse and get some Edward's Plateau speciality birds.    What I didn't know until I started researching it during the trip was that all State Parks within the totality zone were sold out.  I didn't even know I needed to buy a day pass!  About 1 hour into the drive I got bored and looked at eBird to see if there were any nearby spots with Fulvous Whistling Duck sightings.  There appeared to be a spot called Choke Canyon which was only about 20 minutes out of my way so I went and boy was I glad I did!  It seems all my best birding experiences are unplanned.  Choke Canyon State Park was a beautiful spot and I elected to go to a section that had an amazing lake full of birds in and around it.

This Vermilion Flycatcher greeted me in the parking lot.

White-faced Ibis

Great Horned Owls were singing duets so I had to track them down.  I probably could have gotten much better photos if I spent a little more time, but I knew the Fulvous Whistling Ducks were on the lake in the distance so I wanted to catch them in decent light and the sun was setting fast.

Cinnamon Teal!

Fulvous Whistlers!  I can't believe it has taken me this long to see these in the ABA area.  I have seen them in Cuba and maybe somewhere else in the Caribbean but was overdue to have them in the USA.

Black-necked Stilt

Long-billed Dowitcher 

I wish I had spent more time there but I had to get going as the sun was setting and San Antonio was still about an hour away.  Somehow I managed to get a hotel room in downtown San Antonio but it was late when I finally went looking for food at the Riverwalk and everything was shut so I ended up having to eat some pastries I had.

Next installment is the day of the Eclipse but don't get your hopes up because we had clouds in the forecast.

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